The ugly truth about Caribbean medical schools

Caribbean Medical Schools

Dear Dr. Wible,

I want to fill you in on what really goes on behind the scenes at my medical school and maybe you can help inform other students about what happens here before they make a huge mistake. If students slip between the cracks of a US med school, then international med schools in the Caribbean may be the next choice. Some have better residency match rates than others so beware. Mind you, your choice of residency is skewed a bit coming down here, but again there are ways to work your way through internal medicine and find a fellowship of your choice, it is just a tougher and longer road. 

My school allows 1000 students a year in on average at the start of each August class. They let in about 700 for the January starting class which are on different schedules and have a smaller lecture hall to accommodate a smaller class. My starting class began with 1100 students, we are down to 650, meaning 59 percent of my class that I started the first day here with are still here to finish off our second year. The class of 700, starting in January, finished with around 450, meaning about 64 percent of their class made it from day 1 to the last day of year 2. US med schools have about a 1-2% attrition rate, we have on average a 40% attrition rate. The problem I have with this is that our school allows students to take on 40K per semester of debt just to dismiss them after 4 or 5 semesters if they fall below an overall GPA below a 75% or having a final grade of below 70% in any one class. If a student does fall below either mark students may or may not be allowed to decel, which means repeating the failed class; however, this looks bad on a residency app and if one fails again they are almost certainly dismissed (rare exceptions). 

So, why are so many students failing or dropping out? 

1) Students are literally mashed into a lecture hall which seats 900 and there are over 1000 students that must click in for mandatory lecture which is 80% of all lectures. If one falls below 80% attendance they are automatically failed in the course. The stress of clicking in, finding a seat, and waiting in lines on a campus that can’t accommodate this many people is a reason for the students who drop out in the first few weeks, which my school has statistics on and they know this will happen after years of practicing the purposeful overcrowding. This is a business for profit medical school and profit definitely comes before the well being of any student.

2) The mandatory lectures are nearly pathetic. There are usually so many mistakes made by the inexperienced professors, the lecture becomes confusing and muddled. Students are used to having brilliant or at least decent professors. When they see the quality of tutelage and mix that with the stress and workload, the second round of students drop out by midterms.

3) There are not enough dorms on campus to house this many students. Our school placed a random selection of students in a motel 5 miles from campus. There were no laundry services, no ovens, and a shared floor bathroom. Some were disappointed about only having a hotplate and microwave to cook with. This added with the intense work load and adaptation into the pace of medical school is the third round of students to drop out.

After about a month the class will be down to 900 or so. These are the students who started something and are going to finish, even if it means living in a box.

With 900 students how did we get down to 650? They turn the heat up in term 2/3/4 and have a system of questions and statistics for each question they put on their tests so that they fall within the number of students they need to remain to hit their margins. If they need to cut down class size numbers, the heads of the departments are told to use a more difficult test bank by the Dean. Mind you, I’m very close with the head of several departments and we have discussed this for hours, and our disapproval of the methods they use to keep within their budget. We only have 600 positions open for clinical rotations so 50 more students will have to go this term in order to make the numbers right. The school has to have this 40 percent attrition rate to fund the paid positions for our clinical rotations in the US. 

4) IMG’s [International Medical Graduates] have to score an avg. of 10 points higher on the step than a US med grad for an equal position in the US residency match. The avg. US step score is 224. We have to get a 230 usually just to get looked at. Another fact they purposely kept from us until our term 4. Why can’t anybody find the true numbers of this school online? They do not post them. If they did they wouldn’t have the demand they do now because if we were given all of the facts, some us would have chosen a field within health care that doesn’t require this amount of chance, debt, stress, and moral compromise. 

5) Students who can not self study and teach themselves the material fail. Students at my school must teach themselves what they need to know. We are given a vague outline and need to get through the tests and STEP with high scores. We actively search for resources to help fill in the gaps our school leaves. About 30% of the class has headphones on during lecture listening to an outside source and just click in for the attendance question. 

6) Emotional distress/burnout/sickness… This is the area that caught me off guard. I had a medical condition that required hospitalization. The staff is disconnected and said either repeat the term after you seek medical attention or just quit. My advisor told me to “just quit, it isn’t for everybody and it only gets harder.” (thank gawd I didn’t listen to her.) I was in shock and started crying like I never had before. All of that work for someone to tell you to “just quit.” I then went into a depression and felt numb. I luckily met you, Dr. Wible, and found out there were options for these feelings and that I was not alone in this process, med school can be hard…. The others that leave really do just get sick of the abuse and the stress and just zone out. The toughest part about them leaving after a few terms is that the debt has mounted and they have to start repaying their loans 6 months after they quit. It is kind of a vicious circle.

In my opinion I wouldn’t “recommend” my school to any of my friends or family. Im against what they stand for and do not believe in my school. They throw us all against the wall and whoever sticks gets to stay, whoever falls they leave behind. This is for money and I don’t believe it is good for humans to go through this type of abuse while in training to help others. The negative attitude predominates on campus, so I chose to live off campus with success driven students to escape it.  

So why come here? TO BECOME A FREAKIN’ DOCTOR, THAT IS WHY!!!!!!!!! I remember studying homeless in the park for the MCAT with a head flashlight on. Now that Im in my last semester it seems all worth it. Every bit of it. There are waterfalls, beaches all over, fruit stands, rum shops, paddle boarding, night clubs, beautiful views at the campus, good people, and lots of fun to keep you sane while you’re putting in what is most likely the toughest two years of life. It is stressful but it is ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT!!!! If you want a 250 STEP 1 score you work for it. If you want to be a surgeon you work for it, if you want to serve the underserved, you guessed it, YOU WORK FOR IT!! I worked my tail off to get to this point and I feel accomplished now. 

I feel like I can do the most good from this position. I could be a nurse, PA, NP, EMT, or any other health care provider but I want to make some changes in this world and this puts you in the driver seat to do so. My school is now helping out this term and they want to see the students who made it though their process succeed. They are smiling now and so are most students. It is sad to see friends that didn’t make it, but most of the ones that I know failed because they held onto a negative attitude, expected others to do the work for them, got into substance abuse and night life, or simply just didn’t want it bad enough to sacrifice everything for this dream.

The reason I don’t “recommend” it is because I believe students, friends, family should explore and exhaust every option before coming here. I rushed into it and wanted to get started ASAP and paid the price. But if this were my last option to becoming a physician I would still probably do it out of determination. So it can be done, there WILL be hardships, difficulties, confusion, fear, and stress. But if you work as hard as you can and make it through the process. If students do choose this route, they must prepare an emotional support team, an exercise plan for keeping body and mind healthy, and perhaps a mentor to help get adapted to the school.

Please publish my letter if you feel it will help others. And keep doing everything you do for medical students. Please. We need you.

Sincerely

~ David

Pamela Wible, M.D., reports on human rights violations in medicine and what really goes on behind the scenes in medical training and culture. View her TEDMED talk Why doctors kill themselves. Need help? Contact Dr. Wible.

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168 comments on “The ugly truth about Caribbean medical schools
  1. This is a heart-breaking and extremely enlightening, all wrapped into one. When I was applying to medical school there were so many of my undergraduate friends going off-shore to these schools. The follow-up, some 20 years later, is that the majority of them are frustrated, burned-out and wondering what they have done to themselves. My advice, like the author of the article, is to do something else for a bit. Go get a Master’s degree and reapply in 2 years. It’s such a long haul, there really isn’t any reason to jump into a less than perfect scenario.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks for writing Elizabeth. There are terrible emotional and financial consequences when informed consent is lacking as these idealistic humanitarians forge ahead off shore toward their medical degrees. So many fractured lives and lost dreams. I can not even imagine being able to sleep at night if I ran a medical school with a 40% fail rate. Thinking of all those young people with 100-200K+ debt and no degree of any use is just tragic! No words.

      • Jon Doe says:

        Everything that they have to say about the Caribbean school life is right on. I withdrew from AUA my second semester this year,because I saw that many of my upper med friends were facing the harsh reality of what would become a broken dream and needless to say massive student loan debt. In my first semester at AUA, last semester only 20% of my class of about 500 (I may be off on the class size number but it pretty close) passed. They will not post that on their wonderful brochures! AUA is one of “the big fours” and this is how AUA works. As a student last semester you had four courses and in order to move on to the next semester you had to pass all classes with a 70%, if you did not pass one class, then if you failed the course but fell within a 65% you can take a remedial which I have heard is extremely difficult to pass. If you did not pass the remedial, then you either had to repeat the entire semester or its over.
        This semester in my semester two class there were 130ish students. How can it be a 80% attrition rate then. You see 20% of the beginning class of about 500 moves on to semester two, that is about 100 students the other 30ish students are students that were in semester 2 and had to repeat semester 2 because they did not make it onto semester 3. In essence, the class is composed of repeaters and non repeaters. A new curriculum came into play for the semester 1 students this semester. Curriculum Next is what they call it, well you know what they decided to do. They decided that since material in semester 2 was now going to be taught to semester 1 and material that was taught in semester 1 was now going to be taught in semester 2, well the students in semester 2 that failed semester 2 would now have to start from square one. Yes, you read it right, semester 1. They would not be allowed to repeat semester 2 because as I had mentioned, the material that was taught in semester 2 was now going to be taught to semester 1 students with the new curriculum in place. If they qualified of course. As for the new students in semester 1 with the new curriculum, this is what they decided to do in order to keep raking in the money without having to show up for an attrition rate as last semester. It appears to be that the institution was having issues with processing the federal loans due to the high attrition rate. That is the speculation, but no one will really tell you what will be going on or at least want to tell you. But rest assured that they had been red flagged by the U.S department of education. So what did the school decide to do, well they decided that they would allow students in semester 1 to move on to the next semester as long as they got a grade higher than 35% overall, but here is the catch, at the end of the second semester you had to get an overall grade of 70% in order to move on to semester 3. If the student did not attain that 70% then: A.) it would be all over or B.) you were given the option to give it a second try, but you had to start all the way from semester one. And you guessed it, what does that mean? More money for the school etc. They have great resources and a few really great professors that truly do care about you and your education. I think it is a huge red flag when even some of your professors are telling you that they feel bad that we the students are being put up through all that. Compared to other schools I must say AUA does have good resources and facilities. But that is just a facade so that it seems like everything there is good. In all honesty, AUA is all about the money. I figured that being at AUA was not healthy for me anymore, I was not happy, not eating well, not sleeping well. I did well but still the rude awakening of seeing how all they care about is the money and not the student was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They even have a clause in the student handbook that states how they can make any changes to the handbook whenever they want. They do not have to tell the student. They can change the grading layout the number of exams they plan to give a semester. Which they did by the way to the semester 1 students. They originally had 4 exams scheduled for the students, then they changed it to 2 exams. Overall, I decided that I would withdraw and I would try getting into a U.S Medical school. I worked my behind off while being there and most certainly can do so to get into a U.S Medical school. Sadly some of my friends are figuring this out the hard way, many of which have fallen into alcohol or drug abuse etc…simply to deal with the stress and everything that they have to put up with at this school. That in and of itself was also a harsh blow, because you meet them a certain way and slowly you see that flame or spark that they had within them (when you all arrived on the island) dies or is in the process of dying out. You begin to question is it that they do not want to do medicine anymore? Perhaps that is true for some, but for many the fact that they realize that a school has just trashed their dreams or making it extremely difficult for them to attain it, is heartbreaking. It is not that they are not intelligent, believe me I have met really intelligent individuals while being there. I have made lifelong friends also. Some that are very close to making it out of there, but still need to face with taking the USMLE Step 1 exam, which I have heard of success and not so successful stories. We all know how important that test is, it pretty much defines what career specialty you will be able to get into. If you wanted to be a dermatologist and got a 230 on Step, it is the equivalent of saying “good luck knowing you,” “you will not be able be a dermatologist.”…”Maybe internal medicine is good for you!” All in all, that is how it is. I sure wish I would have been told about this before going there. I do not regret the fact that I met wonderful people, while being there. I do not. Would I do it again? Now that is a question that I still do not have an answer for, I mean had I not gone I would have never of met the amazing people who I know call friends. That I do not regret one second.

        Overall, I hope that this gives you a better insight on the Caribbean School life. Thanks for reading!

        • Tash says:

          I also withdrew from AUA but I withdrew before the end of the first semester. I totally agree with everything you’ve stated and I’m glad I withdrew when I did because that one semester cost me $30,000. My situation was unique in the sense that I was a nontraditional student married with two kids. My family did not move to Antigua with me because Antigua, unlike other Caribbean islands is not very welcoming to foreigners. AUA also did not have any family support structures in place. It was very difficult for me emotionally to be away from my family so inevitably, I chose my family over medical school. Now, I am trying to pick up the pieces to get back on track to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. I don’t regret my experience at AUA because it was simply confirmation that becoming a physician is my destiny. I actually enjoyed my med 1 courses and like you’ve mentioned, I met some amazing people.

        • Christine says:

          Omg, I totally aggree with you. I am an AUA med 5 student and having difficulty passing NAME. When, I become a doctor, my goal is to spread the word that no one attend the Caribbean medical school.

      • ERNURSE says:

        Hello came across this page after doing research on Carribean medical school. I am the support for a family member that is attending Antigua Medical school and of course true to the comment above. My family member has failed two semester and appeal for financial aid.

        This is unethical, fraud, immoral and something needs to be done about it. Perhaps US Department of Education should start and investigation. For profit school something fishy is going on. I will continue my research until something is done about this

        In the U.S. school with repeat 40% failing rate would be shut down. How is it that Financial Aid continue to give loans and assistance to schools and are not creating medical doctors. How are loan to be paid back. PLEASE ANYONE READING THIS POST SHARE IT

    • Hans says:

      I appreciate your post. SGU in past 10 years drastically increased their medical classes. I graduated from school in 2004. I started with sgu in 1998. Financially, I did not have resources to finish in 4 years. Looking back at the school and education. I would say, if your truly want be MD, sgu will give you the opportunity. However, very fast pace curriculum and don’t you learn anything deeply. Approach from day 1 to learn via doing questions and then learning backwards on the lecture material. Used to study questions pretest, Lange books, and work backwards onto notes. Never really read whole book. Questions would highlight what should I know. Before exam night cram so many questions into my brain and in hope will get enough correct to pass. Volume so big to learn it all in short semesters and hard to retain long term. Not time for material to sink into brain. School has very little support. In 1998 to 2004 classes much smaller. Never learned anything in depth for long retention. Sgu curriculum built that way. Medical school is not hard, requires persistence in achieving your goal. Very easy to give up quickly if you are not motivated. An MD in 4 years is very short time. European model of 6 years is much better and slower pace.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is right on the money!
    Sounds like St. George’s University to me.

    I am almost one year post-Grenada (doing my clinical rotations in the U.S.) and I still have recurring nightmares of failing out of SGU (with 200,000+ of debt).

    I am one of the ‘lucky’ few who actually passed the first two years of school in Grenada, at SGU.

    EVERY single one of my friends either:

    a. Failed out
    (some after repeating terms) (all carry huge amounts of burdensome debt, often financed through the US Federal Loan program)

    b. Lost their minds
    (two friends went to rehab for alcohol/drug use)
    (six friends, probably a whole lot more, started antidepressants within the first year in Grenada)
    (many friends had full blown meltdowns/psychotic breaks/personality changes in the first 2 years)

    c. Lost their dream

    more to come

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Were you not informed of the attrition rate? What did they promise on the way in? Do you feel deceived?

    • Jane says:

      Oh this is definitely SGU. I don’t even know the writer but I know this situation all to well.

    • Mirela says:

      OMG! I recently applied to SGU and have an interview in the next couple of days. Do you guys have any advice for me? I live in the US and have been out of school for about 4 years. I was told that they are considering me for the CFP and MD programs. Does anyone recommend to retake the MCAT and get into a medical school in the US instead of the Caribbean? Pros and cons to CFP at SGU?
      Need some advice PLEASE!

      • Christina Johnson says:

        SGU only has a 12-15% attrition rate? And 95% 1st time USMLE passing rate…? I spoke with a lot of graduates and they had a great time, busy but great. SGU is the 4th largest source of doctors so what you guys are saying is scaring me! (Just looked up stats online)

      • David li says:

        So did you decide to join SGU?? I am kind of thinking about applying next year to SGU. Could you guys give the honest opinions?

      • James Velasquez M.D. says:

        I would say go!!!! I got an excellent education, met a lot of great people, scored great on my boards and landed a residency in Emergency Medicine which is one of the more competitive specialties. It’s what you make it. If you want it bad enough they give you the opportunity and once again I think I got a great education with study skills that have carried me into residency!

  3. Jane Doe says:

    Let me give you a brief history about myself. I am from Nigeria and after high school, I moved to the United States for undergrad. I graduated from the University of Toledo with a BSc. in Human Biology. My parents were barely able to pay my tuition in America because my country went into a recession and exchange rates skyrocketed. I knew it would be impossible to afford a US medical school so I opted for the cheaper Caribbean medical schools. Coming from 3rd world country, I will tell you that a Caribbean medical school is like heaven compared to what I went through in Nigeria. Yes, I agree with you that Caribbean schools aren’t even half as good as the U.S counterparts but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your success regardless of what school you attend – U.S or Caribbean. I would challenge you to speak with doctors in America now (brilliant doctors I may add) who attained their medical degrees from Nigeria and ask them what life as a medical student in Nigeria was like. They will ALL tell you it was HELL. There are no textbooks, no study materials, the lecture hall has a capacity of 200 students but there are 1,000 students (so a good number will be “wharfed” eventually), there is no electricity to study with, there is no internet, accommodation was always a problem so you might end up squatting in a tiny room with at least 5 people, you get ONE big exam per course at the end of the entire semester (nothing like midterms cos professors are too lazy for that), there are professors who will NEVER award an A regardless of how good a student is, then there’s the dean of the department who will announce to the incoming class that “they didn’t graduate with a first class (magna/summa cum laude) in their time so if you’re in this class hoping for such grades, you should dreamless because he does NOT award such in the department”…and a laundry list of other adversities facing medical students in Nigeria yet they prevail and become one of the most brilliant doctors I’ve ever seen. A lot of things the OP mentioned are things that are common to a lot of medical schools, not just Caribbean med.schools (and it sounds like he attends one of the “big fours”). I am in a Caribbean medical school and 2 of my friends from Toledo are US citizens so they were able to get into US medical schools but I couldn’t. I have taken step1 and I performed better than my 2 friends in the US and I also performed well above the US average. Like I said earlier, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS regardless of where you attend medical school. If you are able to get into a US medical school, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re not privileged to, then when you get to the Caribbean medical school, you forge past all these obstacles and do what you have to do – STUDY STUDY STUDY like your life depended on it and you will make it into the competitive pool.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Wow. Unreal. May I ask what the tuition is in Nigerian medical schools? Are students aware coming in what the situation is there? Or is it a surprise the poor conditions?

      • Jane Doe says:

        In Nigeria, it’s sad to say that almost every single medical school is like that. I have friends who are in medical school there right now but the professor’s note is from 2005. I scratch my head like “I know medicine has advanced since 2005” so I end up sending them my “Caribbean” notes/study materials…but I don’t want to make this post about Nigerian medical schools. Let me stay focused on the Caribbean ones.

        There is no Caribbean school that will tell you there is a 40% fail out rate in their school. This is a business to them so they highlight only the good to lure you in. It is up to you to do your research before embarking on that journey. People fail to do this homework and that’s why they have a rude awakening when they get on the island.

        Also (and i will speak for my school), a lot of medical students come here and they are “living the party island life” forgetting what they really are here for. They party all night and are barely able to make it to lectures the next day. These Caribbean programs are fast-paced so if you miss a class, you miss a lot and it’s hard to catch up. These are the students that complain and say “our school did nothing for them.” After the island phase, a lot of people take the Kaplan review course and someone told me they learned more in 7weeks of Kaplan than they did in school. My response was “maybe if you attended classes consistently, you would have learned a thing or two.” I will tell you from experience that if you put in the effort and my professors see you giving it your all, they will GLADLY help you. In my first semester, I was so sad to be away from home I barely passed my first midterms…but that was a wake-up call for me to work harder which I did. My parents always tell me “those students who perform really well don’t have two heads…so you can do it too”

        • Pamela Wible MD says:

          Thanks for the additional insight. What is the tuition for Nigerian med schools? I would hope very much cheaper than others given your description above. Also how would students find out the truth? Online search? Are current students honest with them during the interview process?

          • Jane Doe says:

            Oh yeah, it is dirt cheap in Nigeria and when you convert it to dollars it’s not up to $1,000/semester.

            Most schools will have a facebook group so if you’re looking to get into one, join those groups and ask questions. Also, you can ask the faculty to hook you up with a few ex-students who have matched (this is what I did) and honestly it was their advice I let sink in my head more than the negatives. A few prospective students have contacted me on facebook and asked for my candid opinion of my school. In summary, I tell them to “be prepared to work HARD cos this isn’t a walk in the park.”

        • Tobi says:

          Hi, I am also Nigerian who is currently enrolled in a Canadian university and considering the Caribbean after my undergraduate degree I would be glad to speak with you.
          Thank you.

        • Amaka says:

          Hello, I’m nigerian as well. I have a B.sc in human anatomy and wish to study medicine in a carribean university because they are cheaper than the those in the US and better than most of our Universities over here. I wish to know what University over there in the caribbeans you would recommend from your own cognition and what school you attend now.

        • Ifeanyi says:

          Hi,Jane, I’m from Nigeria and also a prospective medical student in one of the medical schools in the Caribbean. If you don’t mind I’ll like to talk to you as regards getting an MD degree in the Caribbean. Could you please provide me with your contact or social media profiles.

          • Flo says:

            Hi…Have you enrolled in a medical school as yet? If not you can contact me as I have information that you would benefit from.

        • Chukwumah says:

          Please Jane, I’m happy I found a Nigerian here. I’m from Nigeria and I am processing my admission with Caribbean medical university school of medicine (CMU). I was impressed when I saw their loan facilities because I’m a graduate of pharmacology in Nigeria and I have been considering studying medicine abroad. I don’t have much but hoping to key in to their loan which I hope would assist me. Do you have any undisclosed information on their loan for international student?

        • veronica Simon says:

          great to hear your testimony. pls can I get your contact? I am a Nigerian.i have a child who wants to study in the Caribbean so will love to hear from you.

    • Neville Kabangu says:

      You’re totally right! I am from the Congo and over there medical studies are really hell! If you finish one academic year you should be grateful to God because most of the students can’t even finish the first year because of the poor organization and sometimes academic years are extended for no reason.Currently I am studying biochemistry in the US and I don’t want my parents to spend so much money in my medical studies in the US while my younger brothers and sisters will go to college too. Although the Caribbean medical schools are not as good as the American ones, i’m thinking about studying medicine over there because I want to be a doctor so badly and i’ll Work really hard for it.

    • Nadege says:

      Thank You for this message. I am Registered Nurse and over thirty five and thinking about going for MD in the Caribbean medical school. what school are you going to?

      • Michelle Janko says:

        Do you also have children. I am 36, considering this as well.

      • Kimberly Claflin says:

        Hi! I’m a RN, BSN and in my late 40’s. I went through a horrible divorce and lost my family. I’m all alone, and I have been thinking about changing careers. I didn’t see a response to your question. What was your final decision?

        Thanks!
        Kimberly

        • Jeff says:

          I would become a NP and forget medical school.. not worth the trouble and headaches

        • Rose says:

          Don’t listen to all that, you can succeed in the Caribbean and as an older student. I am 42 yrs old, started at AUC last year and I love it here. I was very skeptical before I came here of course, but this school, IMO will allow you to have your sanity while going through these 2 tough years of basic sciences. All of our lectures are recorded on Echo360, so attendance is not required, so I just sit in my lovely brand new condo here that looks onto the bay and do my class work for most of the day. Most of the students, live in amazing condos with beach views and the island is not desolate or rural like where the other Top 4 Caribbean schools are located.
          I know like it may seem like, this shouldn’t matter because you’ll be just studying all day, but when you’re in med school, any extra sanity is important. Our gross anatomy lab, where we spent most of our first semester in, has one of the best views of the beach on the island actually, so dissecting those cadavers wasn’t such a bad or scary experience.
          We also have visiting professors from the US medical schools that teach a good portion of our classes here, so most of the professors have not been all that bad. They actually started getting better the further we moved along in semesters. We’ve had a lot of transfer students from the other Top 3 schools transfer here and they’ve all said that this school is just wayyy better, lifestyle and organization of curriculum. Our match rate was pretty good too last year at 91%, so unless you are failing classes left and right you will most likely match. And to actually get kicked out of this school, you have to fail at least 17 units (so like 1 whole semester), and 90% of the class usually pass most of the classes. Our fail rate is just higher in the first 2 semesters, so if you make it to the 3rd semester, hardly anyone fails after that.
          I don’t know, I could be naïve, since I’m only in my second year here, but after being here for a year, you kinda have a sense for what is actually going on. But I also can’t speak for the other Caribbean schools, except for this one. There are pros and cons for each of course.

          So if you’re still deciding what to do. I hope this helps encourage your some. Good luck!

    • Tracey says:

      Hi,
      I am a Nigerian considering medical school too. Please can you inbox me to guide me at tracey.ozoh@yahoo.com. Please your guidance will be very much appreciated. My parents and I are trying to take a decision. Thank you.

    • Tope says:

      hi please, i’m from Nigeria and would like to get in touch with you about caribbean medical schools. i’ve been doing some research and would like to run it by you before i make my decision on which caribbean school to attend. please, i hope you get in touch with me.

  4. Donald Turken, MD says:

    Hi Pamela-this student does not indicate which Caribbean medical school he/she attended, Grenada or Dominica or others. This person did not do due diligence homework before going. I was in Mexico 1976 at the most recognized of ‘foreign’ medical schools, Universidad Autonoma Guadalajara. I am an FMG. That decade saw the peak of US students abroad across the globe but mostly Mexico/Carib, although most were in Guadalajara. We were about 5000 US/Canadian students alone. There were congressional attempts to stem to the tide ‘offshore’. AMCAS, AAMC etc. There was a push by physicians daddys NY/NJ, too, which caused Grenada to open. (within a couple years Reagan sent in the troops to counter a Cuban invasion of the island. Now the term is IMG. a year or so ago I was contacted by a USFMG in Colorado who had gone to the Caribbean and was struggling for an internship. I counseled what I could before and after seeing this candidates papers; another unrelated position has been found and those years in the Carib are history. Your author here started without information and had not realized how stacked was/is the deck and what is the numbers game. I hope he/she has a plan B well underway in some allied, or other, field. Cheers-Donald

  5. zainab says:

    As with everything, offshore medical education like that in Caribbean countries is not a monolith. needless to say, thousands thrive, do well on the USMLE and match into competitive residency programs while others fail out or are unable to match in the US. while i sympathtise with this person’s experience, his experience is not mine or that of many other colleagues of mine that went to Caribbean medical schools. the problem is it can be hard to know the full truth if one didnt do proper research on their school or never met an alumni. there are also other factors that make a student decide on their school like the cost of tution.
    furthermore, just like the schools are different, there is also a wide range of students that attend schools in the caribbean, ranging from excellent students who would have been able to get into US medical schools, given the opprtunity to other students who has no business in medical school in the first place.the problem is many of the school, out of greed i guess, relax their admission requirements and so the curriculum or reality of medical school ends up weeding out many. unfortunately, these students are left with debt and broken hearts. i do wish more schools in the caribbean had more integrity in the kind of students they admit. All in all, i have no regrets about attending one, a caribbean medical school gave me and many others who matched into good residency spots, a shot at our dream. As with anything, proceed with caution. medical school is not a bed or roses anywhere. if u can get into med school in the US, of course u should go to school in the US, but if like me, u had a foreign undergrad degree and the idea of US medical rotations/the chance to practice in the US appeals to you, then research a caribbean school that suits u. my 25 cents.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks Zainab. Agree. Hard to paint with a broad stroke here as so many factors are involved; however, the main point that I think we can all agree on is that these schools should not be deceptive with students. Tell the truth on attrition rates at a minimum.

      • zainab says:

        these are for-profit,agggresively capitalistic, morally-bankrupt organisations. they never reveal the attrition rates and i dont think they’ll start anytime soon. also, as long as they keep admitting the student with the 1.9gpa and no mcat to compete with the perfect gpa student with multiple research publications, etc to be in the same class, then the attrition rate will stay high. its unfortunate.

        • Pamela Wible MD says:

          That’s unbelievable. You are not exaggerating? You’ve met 1.9 GPA no-MCAT med students. Surely some of the Caribbean schools are not so morally bankrupt.

          • zainab ainajoshua says:

            I wish i could say it wasnt true. Particularly in a newly-established school trying to increase their class size(s). The strategy some of the schools will employ is to just admit ‘anyone’ with a bioscience background. Then with time, they harden their requirements when they are satisfied with their applicant pool.the poor student gets to be a ‘future doctor’ for a while till the reality of med school or residency competition catches up with them

          • Pamela Wible MD says:

            So unfair, I guess they bank (literally) on the naiveté of youth. I also understand that loans are not as easy to get for foreign med schools.

        • Florentina Joseph says:

          Zainab as a Caribbean native I must say that most if not all the Caribbean schools are owned and operated by foreign nationals. That must be stated that the morally bankrupt are not from here.

  6. DT says:

    Yes, I was a student at a Caribbean medical school. I left after the first semester because I could see the dangerous journey I was embarking on. I know countless ex-caribe Med students that are in limbo now and owe thousands of dollars in loans with nothing to show for it!. Sadly, medicine as we know it today, is a business from start to finish. That’s not what I signed up for. I started my medical training in the Caribbean, with a class of 120 but by the end of the 4th year, roughly only 20 actually graduate. This little fact is kept well hidden from the starting class until you’re actually there! Island conditions were diplorable and I personally had a room infested with cockroaches and spiders. Essentially, if you really want to become a physician and are willing to gamble away thousands of dollars of borrowed money and lose your health in the process, then Caribbean medical experience is the place to be! Trust me, there is a lot more to life than that.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      OMG. What’s the math on that??? 16% graduation rate??? That is so effed. What school if you don’t mind sharing.

      • Ahmed says:

        Sounds like you went to a school similar Avalon University School of Medicine in Curaçao.

        • Saeed says:

          “..I started at AUA but graduated Avalon U..”

          I had a better experience at Avalon University School of Medicine environment with smaller classes and clinical availabilities.

          Hence;I do still think Caribbean’s are 2nd best option,but one has to do his/her homework carefully when choosing a school.

          • jehan says:

            my name is jehan and i need your advice when their experience i got worry special i am with my kids i mean what do you about the area is safety to raise kids
            also i was wonder is Avalon University School of Medicine good university or they are about money only

    • Sine Ananlysis says:

      Many that drop out or kicked out of med school go onto finish school at another lower tiered school. There are multiple alternative routes to getting your med school degree. Residency is a whole ‘nother set of problems but finishing med school at one or another school is not. I have friends who bombed out of the big three and did finish med school at an even lower tiered school. So if you got kicked out there, there is still a chance of finishing somewhere.

  7. Tori says:

    This student must have never taken the time to get to know a PA, NP, nurse, EMT, or any other healthcare provider for that matter, because these people are actually capable of making some changes in the world and almost all of us do. When you finally get out of your unfortunate didactic studies and get into rotations, maybe you’ll have some more respect for the other members of the healthcare world!

    Signed, a fellow PA-C (who never even applied for medical school, like most others, by the way, because we did not want to go to medical school)

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks Tori. Question for ya: Are there Caribbean schools for PAs?? Or is it just MDs? DO schools are in the US (not Caribbean?). Who else goes to get trained at offshore schools I guess is the question. Nurses? EMTs?

  8. Your Colleague says:

    An excellent article by Dr. David, well written! I, too came from a Caribbean medical school and am almost finished with my residency training. Much of what he wrote resonated with me, and while reading it, was thinking, “yep, uh huh, saw that, experienced that…”. I will take it a step further by stating that many of these places, unfortunately, have wicked people who prey on the students due to the perception that they are wealthy foreigners. Too many times, have I heard of land lords charging foreign med students a much higher rent, or making them pay the land lord’s bills, or threatening to turn them over to the police. Furthermore, there are times where the law enforcement and other emergency response agencies are incompetent, prejudice, or straight up corrupt. I have seen and heard of students being robbed, raped, intentionally run over by vehicles, detained by law enforcement without cause, and students dying for stupid reasons because nobody would come to their rescue. I, myself had my apartment broken into at 3am and experienced face to face confrontation with the intruder. Perhaps these are rare and extreme occurrences but they are most certainly real.

    Can you imagine going through the stress and rigors of medical school while having to be constantly thinking about the $300,000 in med school loans PLUS any undergraduate loans, WHILE worrying about your own school turning on you, WHILE worrying about whether your land lord is going to extort you or not, WHILE worrying about getting beaten, raped, murdered, detained by corrupt law enforcement or just plain sick without reliable access to healthcare? No wonder why the attrition rate is so high, or why students turn to illicit or prescribed drugs to cope. Some even leave the islands with PTSD. Personally, I’m thankful for the experience because, despite the intense, God awful stress I endured. It made me so much more perceptive and empathetic to the pain and suffering of others. I cherish that lesson learned and hold it near and dear to my heart.

    My interpretation of Dr. David’s article is that he was making the point on the high attrition rate and questionable practices of for-profit medical schools. But the biggest take home message I received from this was that this is how we’re training our physicians in a time where we need heath care practitioners of all types more than ever. In general, the CULTURE of medicine and being a physician is ludicrous! How does competing for the highest grades, step scores, studying & working for 80, 90, 100+ hours per week, staying up for hours on end making life and death decisions lead to a properly trained, healthy, emotionally centered, happy physician who still has the capacity to love their patients and themselves? I’m still trying to understand the reasoning behind the current modal of physician training that we have.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Antiquated fear-based meded model serving nobody. Why terrify these young people and pit them against one another in for-profit med schools. I’d never be able to sleep at night were I at the helm of one of these schools. Deceptive.

  9. Caribbean Student says:

    Hi Dr. Wible. I am a first semester student at a smaller but one of the big 5 Caribbean medical schools, and I agree with everything that has been shared in the article you have brought forward. Being an IMG is tough and being a Caribbean medical student, even tougher. But at the end of the day it comes down to motivation. Medicine is a very special calling and Caribbean medical schools are one final chance for students to explore whether medicine is really their calling.

    A little bit about me. I graduated last fall from undergrad with honors and distinction completing a double major. I had a diverse amount of extracurriculars with international medical missions. Overall I was a student with a steller academic and EC record. Yet, with only a 17% acceptance rate at Canadian medical schools, getting accepted to medical school amongst 13 000 applicants was like shooting a dart in the dark and hitting bullseye. In fact, the mental stress of not being able to pursue your dreams is far worse than the stress any medical student may face academically. I knew my calling was medicine and even after being well informed of the risks of attending an international medical school I applied and was accepted to every one I applied to without much troubles at all.

    What I am trying to get across is that yes caribbean medical schools are tough. The academic burden, lack of academic resources whether they be faculty or facility related and finally the uncertainty of getting through. The attrition is a very sad reality. But behind such ridiculous numbers lies some logical reasoning. First of all not everyone at a Caribbean medical school processes the appropriate academic competency to succeed. The end goal of these schools is to help the student pass the board and match into a residency. If schools were laxed about their academic standards and passing benchmarks, borderline passing students will get to their final years and after having spent the equivalent of a fully detached house on tuition they would end up not matching. I’m sure that this mental stress is perhaps the worst amongst all that we have discussed. But these are risk many motivated students like my self are willing to take in order to practice such a humble and noble profession.

    My advise to any pre-med is to be INFORMED. Which is exactly what you are doing and I so dearly respect you for all your efforts. A pre-med student must first assess their motivation and personal aptitude. Next they should assess how fast do they want to go. Getting into medical school in Canada is very tough, and less but still tough in the US. Luckily there are post-bac programs, special masters programs and even night pre-req classes available to pre-meds that are motivated but still just below the bench mark of being accepted. This also gives students to build personal and professional characteristics required to be a successful medical student while further exploring whether medicine is really their calling. I had confidence in my self and my competency hence I chose not to spend the extra time attempting at an acceptance to an onshore medical school, I’d rather get through the process so I can service humanity as a doctor that much more sooner and longer.

    But this is just my opinion. Am I breezing through school… of course not. But I am working hard and chasing a dream, certainly. I feel that no one who is truly motivated and belongs in the field of medicine can fail if they have such an attitude. Hence, I urge the many readers and exceptional pre-meds that have read the article you have brought forward to be informed but definitely not afraid to pursue their dream.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I think what is missing is the transparency on the part of the schools. They should be clear about their attrition rate. Informed consent.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dear Dr. Wible,

    I am writing to you to share my own perspective of Caribbean medical schools, as I am a student of Ross University and currently in my 4th year. I read the article that David wrote and I agree a lot with the things he wrote. Our school accepts a large number of students and it does tend to dwindle down and it is very unfortunate. I do believe that these schools tend to operate in a business type way, but I am also very grateful that these schools exist to give people like me a chance! I think it is terrible though that they let a surplus of students in, many who really may not qualify, hence giving them false hopes and leaving them with a large debt. So before applying, you absolutely have to RESEARCH! Know what you are getting into and be prepared. Compare the top 3 Caribbean schools (St. George, Ross, AUC) and pay attention to things such as environment, living situation, curriculum, and most importantly KNOW yourself. I couldn’t emphasize on that more. For example- can you go a day or two without showering in your apartment because there’s a water outage? How about an electrical outage? Are you okay with not having access to the mall or movie theatres? Are you the type of person that can adapt easily and those things don’t bother you? Dominica is a very underdeveloped island so it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into. St George and AUC on the other hand is on a more touristy island so there are more readily available goods and amenities. These factors are critical because if you are in an environment that you hate, it makes it very difficult to focus on studies and to maintain healthy mental health.

    If you are considering a Caribbean school, first I would strongly advise for you to apply to U.S schools first. Caribbean school should be your last resort and when you’ve decided it’s your last resort, make sure you compare the top 3 and see which suits you best (St. George, Ross, AUC). I only applied to Ross and St. George because I knew my chances to get into a U.S medical school was slim to none. I had a 2.75 GPA and my MCAT was below 30. I did a 1 year post-bacc program after undergrad and ended up with a 3.65 and still I knew my chances were low. In my heart though, I knew that if I was given the chance to prove myself, I would excel. Now that I’m at the end of my medical school, I can say I’ve done pretty well. I’ve gotten A’s and B’s in my first two years and so far all A’s for my core rotations and electives. I did well on my step 1 and step 2 CK exams..and now am just waiting for my step 2 CS scores. I think if you have no other option, Caribbeans is not a bad choice. I know of many students who do well and excel and even get residencies in big name hospitals. I remember an attending once told me that he preferred Caribbean students because he knows how hard we had to work to get to where we are now so that was nice to hear!

    When it comes to Caribbean medical schools, I think there are a lot of both pros and cons. I’ve always told myself that beggars can’t be choosers so yes..going to a Caribbean school, there will be a ton of obstacles. You’ll always have to fight and be your own advocate but I can’t complain because without them, I wouldn’t be getting my degree next year! Apply to them knowing that there is a high attrition rate, but also know that if you work hard and you stay focused, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t succeed. Also keep in mind that these schools do let a surplus of students in, even students who don’t quality. The students that I saw who didn’t do well were: students who didn’t care for medicine and they were simply doing it because it was their last resort, english wasn’t their first language, students who got into toxic relationships, and students who put partying before their studies. Now, if you have the scores to go in the states, then definitely apply! If you are like me and know you won’t have a chance in the states merely because of hiccups that you’ve had in your undergraduate school, the Caribbeans is really not a bad place.

    If anyone has specific questions regarding lectures, housing, professors, etc., I’d be more than happy to answer them!

    • Amaka says:

      Please what caribbean med school do you attend?

    • Sridevi says:

      Are you aware of any colleges that offer medicine programs right after high school or the 12th grade as it is in India.

    • Eric vaive says:

      Hi,
      Thanks got the info. I’m a 41 year old commercial pilot. Just lost my license because of slightly poor eye sight.
      Thinking Med school.
      I’d love to pick your brain about Ross.
      Thanks Eric

    • Slim says:

      Hey,

      Thank you for taking the time to write this. I am currently in limbo with applying to Ross Univ. Do you mind telling me if your classes were huge like SGU or more manageable? I am hoping to enter the May 2018 Class. My background is similar to yours, post bac, decent 3.3 gpa in in UNdergrad and better GPA in post bac just low MCAT score. I have tons of research and Clinical exp as well. I have done my research on Carrib med schools and I do not think I would have an issue with the island life as my parents are from the carribean and I would love to hear what you have to say about class size esp anatomy classes, and professor relationships and well preparation for USMLE Step 1 program and clinical rotations. Like do you feel you were placed in a hospital where there was a good amount of patho-physiological diversified cases.

    • Arun says:

      Very inspiring write up
      And kudos to all the hard work you have put Into your medical studies and I wish to congratulate and wish you the best .
      I am a fmg practicing neat Washington DC internal medicine .
      I have a dilemma that my dgtr who wants to become a dr is in 3 rd year and has low gpa of 3 and interested in Caribbean schools and wants to go there ASAP
      Would you recommend that

    • Ahmed Osman says:

      Please, as an international student, what advise can you give me on their scholarships and how I can support myself with the remaining balance through out my stay in the Caribbean medical schools as a poor student? Thank you.

    • Zarqa Saif says:

      I am Dr Zarqa from Pakistan,My daughter has passed 12th grade and got 74.6% and in Ielts 6.What are requirements for foreign student in st.george uiversity for MBBS.Please guide me,I will be very thankful.

  11. Brady says:

    I graduated from St. George’s University in 2013. I managed to serve my two years on the island and another two years in Queens for clinical rotations. I feel that a lot of what was said above is a gross exaggeration. Does the school take two semesters worth of students totaling close to 2000/year? Yes. I’m not arguing. Perhaps they have changed their attendance requirements, but during my time, only the clinical skills class and labs were required. Otherwise, you could listen to the lectures from home.

    I won’t argue that a lot of students drop out. The school and curriculum aren’t that difficult. You just have to be willing to read and study EVERY day. Stop going to Bananas to party. Stop going to the beach every afternoon. The bulk of the people that didn’t make the cut either partied too much on the island or didn’t have the maturity to power through rote memorization. The school offers an introductory semester called “Foundations” or something like that. It is a somewhat watered down version of their first real semester. The school requires certain people with questionable ability to first go through that course. If they can make it, then they can try their hand at a real semester. The problem is, these people go in feeling overconfident because they passed the training wheels course. They don’t push themselves with studying.

    The author above complains about the lectures being terrible and no guidance is given to students. I’m not sure about his school, but SGU supplied outlines and powerpoints that were enough to learn from for the majority of the classes. Unfortunately for some, you do have to crack open a textbook once in awhile. An example of this is the pathology course. You can’t learn everything you need to know from powerpoint slides. You may have to sit down and open a book.

    The “hotel” that he is likely referring to is the original campus. It is walking distance to the main grocery store and it is literally on the beach. None of the facilities are amazing, but you actually can live with a hot plate and microwave without starving.

    While I didn’t particularly care for the island, it wasn’t the hell on earth that he’s describing. You keep your head down, study everyday, and hit the store once a week. That’s it. Two years will fly by. I even managed to train for a marathon down there. The heat and humidity is awful, but it made me very comfortable with the local area.

    Finally, residency positions are available for the people who work for them. The program I am in now is incredibly IMG friendly and they don’t look at test scores as closely as you think. Since it is a smaller program, they care more about being able to work with someone for 4 years. If you are socially awkward, then medicine is not right for you. You have to be able to speak to patients, colleagues, and represent your department without embarrassment. This is too much for some to handle and I’m sure they struggle to get a position.

    In short, study hard, don’t be awkward, and suck it up on the island. Do this and you’ll become a doctor.

    • Sgu grad says:

      You sound like you’ve been contacted by the faculty of sgu and asked to write a counter piece my friend. That’s what they used to do…I recall getting an email asking me to write something positive on a forum for them about…

    • Ursula Robertson says:

      I couldn’t agree more.St.George University School of Medicine is fabulous .Their system follows more of how Med School runs in Europe like Germany ,Switzerland or Britain.They give more qualified students a chance to succeed ,that probably in the US would have never had a chance to get into Med School. Especially with stats like 8000 applicants for 120 seats.That’s a joke,when a great number of those seats go to minorities .A student that is 24 or 25 years old doesn’t have the time to wait year after year to get in ” hopefully”. I have seen so many cases were everything was perfect,MCAT score,GPA ,work experience and still,he was placed on the waiting list .You asked yourself ,what more do they want ???
      Don’t listen to all the bad talk about Carribean Med Schools,just try to get into the right one.St.George in Grenada in my opinion is by far the best.There is also Ross in Dominica and American School of the Carribean in St. Marteen.Good luck!
      Now go and become a Doctor !!!!!

      • Dina says:

        Hello,
        I was recently accepted to SJSM in St. Vincent.
        I was wondering if you could give any information on that school if possible.
        Or if you know anyone who attended tat school.

      • Francesca Sheldon says:

        Would you mind elaborating how the Caribbean Med School system follows that of Germany or Switzerland or the UK?

        From my experience and reading up on the application processes when I decided on Medical School programs in 2017, programs in those countries run much longer (usually 6-7 years), require research and a dissertation (Germany), and are incredibly hard to get into as they are taxpayer-subsidized and merit-based, thus highly competitive.

        In 2017, there were over 45,000 applications for very few positions in Germany for example, with average Med School size around 300-350 — and you needed a perfect GPA (Abitur / Matura / baccalaureat) plus entrance exams (TMS or HamNat for Germany) and be fluent in the native language of course. International students wishing to do so often look at 1-2 years of preparation in addition to the program – one year of language training and language exams to pass the C1-level exam, and one year of preparation courses for physics/ chemistry/ biochemistry/ molecular biology etc.

        Heidelberg University and Charité in Berlin for example had 3.8% and 5.6% acceptance rates (per Wikipedia), and those clinical programs are ranked very highly (around no. 35-45 globally per USNews, 2018). LMU and TU in Munich pool their incoming students and accept an initial class of close to 700, however attrition rates are relatively high. In Switzerland, there are practically no positions open to those students who do not hold a Swiss passport.

        From my research, students who wish to study medicine but do not get in, oftentimes apply to English-language programs in Poland, Hungary, or Romania to study medicine there (if they can afford it) and then get their degrees validated by the EU as “MD-Romania” for example.

        For the UK, which has the advantage of English-language instruction, it is the same – very competitive to get in. For example AUC (a “big three” program in the Caribbean) does offer clinical rotations in England — but none of the AUC students can complete postgraduate work / residency training there. Students are not eligible for registration, as the General Medical Council of the UK does not recognize AUC as an accredited medical school because its training was deemed “insufficient” by their standards (see AUC website, UK Medical Council, Wikipedia etc).

        I am by no means an expert on accreditation or Carribbean Medical Schools but I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to Med School to think about where in the world they want to be long-term, get as many stats and details as possible, find out what accreditations the Med achool they are thinking about has, where you would like to / are allowed to practice afterwards, what national exams you need to take etc. Find out as much as you can, speak with students and alumns, and then make a choice to follow that path with open eyes.

      • Sunshine says:

        Why does your comment about minorities seem like they just give any minority a seat at Med School don’t they also have the requisite grades? Racist much!!!

  12. Pamela Wible MD says:

    Preying on idealistic humanitarians is a sick business model.

  13. White Water Rapids says:

    Sounds like SGU to me. What was neglected in the above illustration and below commentary was that you can study hard and study smart but if 40% have to go to maintain profit margins then 40% will go. You can put all your energies into studying and reap nothing. Intelligent people and the average joe have all fallen victim to such heinous practices. That school is a very wicked and evil place: admit as many as you can with the intention of failing hundreds to balance the books.

    And not only Americans and Canadians fall victim, people of all other nationalities do so too. In fact they may be targeted first. How is a student from South Africa going to challenge a wrongful dismissal? In which court and where?

    Will anything ever be done about that evil institution?

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      “Will anything ever be done about that evil institution?” When we unite as a profession to PROTECT one another and not allow our colleagues to fall and be preyed upon we will finally have real health care. It starts with us and our behavior with each other. Inhumane and cruel organizations and human rights violations in medicine need to stop. Forthcoming film will start the long overdue conversation about HOW we treat and train our healers: http://donoharmfilm.com/

      It is my mission. Have faith & please join me.

      • Noche says:

        You are literally amazzzzing. Are you real? How did you manage to keep your soul? So many of my colleagues are just a shell of themselves, though prior to med school they too were healers and humanitarians. I would like to work with you. I share your vision and believe in your work. God bless you!

        • Pamela Wible MD says:

          What’s your phone number? I’ll call you now!! Here’s how I kept my soul. I spent a lot of time crying!! I did not let them beat my humanity out of me! https://www.idealmedicalcare.org/blog/bambi-syndrome/

          • Sylvie says:

            Hi Dr Wible!I just happened to come across this blogging. I can agree with just about everything I’ve read here! I graduated from AUC. It was hard work but I made it! While leaving my family/very young children, back home in the States. So I was determined to make sure I graduated!! I did get the M.D. However, never did get my license because I was unable to sit Part II of the USMLE before I graduated, because I lacked one more core. That core was my last rotation and I graduated. Was accepted into residencies but they couldn’t ratify that because of not having Part II of the Boards. US grads could be taken into Residencies but not an IMG without Part II, So I still don’t have a license today and tons of student loan debt because of several family catastrophies, including my husband passing and catastrophic illness of one of my children. So here am I with no way to support myself after putting in all that effort (which given all you’ve heard plus while having a family). I wondered if you might have any suggestions, contacts for me where I could utilize my medical background without a license. Thank you.

          • Pamela Wible MD says:

            Depends what you want to do. Check out this keynote and answer the 7 questions at the end then maybe we can talk. Secrets to loving your life in healthcare

          • Alex says:

            I don’t know how to reply to Sylvie. But, an MD without USMLE Part II can still get hired as a professor or other biomedical researcher, participate in planning and running clinical trials, and get priority for grants with new terminal degree from the National Institutes of Health and the NIH myriad subsidiary institutes.

            My partner Karen never took the USMLE Part II and uses her Harvard MD to enable her basic science and clinical research for stem cells treating cancer.

  14. Ursula Robertson says:

    My daughter goes to St.George University School of Medicine.I can only say good things.Their stats in USMLE passing rates are great much higher then US DO Schools.Resendency matching rates are fantastic.This School is harder to get in to,but highly recommend it.They post everything on line ,that you want to know,including name of student and resedency placed in by individual state in the US.The university is very organized,and makes best effort even for families,boyfriends of fiancées that have accompanied the Med or Vet Student for the 5 quarters they have to stay in Grenada.

    • Mike says:

      DO schools have their own board exam, the “COMLEX” which is a substitute for the USMLE. Some DO students do in fact take the USMLE as well, but a much smaller sample of DO students. Plus their schooling is oriented towards osteopathic medicine, slightly different (slightly), than what is tested on the USMLE. Same concepts, but emphasis on certain topics differ, which can change test scores. In response to residency match rates:
      the recent NRMP data showed horrible stats in the category of U.S. Citizen students/Grads of IMGs: 42.9% unmatched, compared to that of 18.3% unmatched of Osteopathic schools and 5.7% unmatched of Allopathic schools.

      This is borderline criminal that these stats aren’t made public or readily available to potential Caribbean Medical Students.

      I am not trying to be rude, I am just shocked, and deeply saddened that so many students (who are no different than myself, a medical student in the U.S.) are getting taken advantage of.

  15. Sarah says:

    Hello, please does any know about SABA university and if it is a good school because am thinking of applying there.

    • Lucy says:

      I imagine that you have now made this decision for yourself, and I imagine that the law of averages would suggest you did not finish at Saba, but maybe managed to transfer on from there. I don’t know the current overall attrition rate at Saba because it varies a lot per semester and it is getting progressively worse in recent years due to changes in management and administration. It’s now being run in such a way that I would highly recommend students look elsewhere. Pluses are that class sizes are small. While Saba used to have class sizes about 120 just a few (2-3) years ago, and can easily fit those sizes into their lecture theatres, however the total student population for all five semesters combined is now below this and the average class size for semesters 1 and 2 is below 20.

      Many factors have contributed to the dropout rate and the decision not to go to Saba.

      1) Faculty turnover is outrageously high, and the university will spend a year at a time short-staffed on a subject. That leaves the student being taught by faculty that may know less about the area than they do oftentimes. The constant turnover means few of the faculty have been there long and the system is very unorganized, with overlapping lectures and information gaps the norm.

      2) The island is unreasonably difficult to live on. Although Saba wasn’t hit hard by the 2017 hurricanes compared to other islands in the path, the locals on the island took a hit in tourism and as a result have needed to increase the amount of money they make on students, so things have become progressively worse over the last few years. Instead of affecting rent, which couldn’t increase enough to cover the losses, this resulted in increased corruption. The local population has developed a relationship with the university administration which allows them to use extortion, for example, to keep up to three months deposit from each student that rents, without justification, or to extract other off-lease payments. If the student doesn’t comply, the administrations threatens the student with dismissal, so the student has to lose about two thousand dollars to each landlord from which they move. After the student moves, the landlord often immediately rents it again, thereby collecting double rent. These practices is illegal, but is not only ignored by the administration, the university administration is actively supporting it and enabling it. Those who have spoken up have been dismissed even when they have proof, because there are no courts on the island and lawyers on other islands don’t like to get involved with Saba. This practice is used against faculty as well, who also have to rent, creating an overall environment of stress and anxiety for everyone at the university that makes it not worth living there, even if you can afford losing thousands arbitrarily. This isn’t the only example of illegal practices. The island has a reputation as a ‘pirate’ island and is almost impossible to live on Saba unless you are part of the population benefitting from the corruption.

      There are many other problems with Saba which are getting worse in recent years. If you end up being one of the few that graduate from Saba, then it will be because you have enormous outside family support, both financially and emotionally. Saba has had a reputation for being a top four school, but you will not know who your professors are a months from now, you will not know what the curriculum will be a months from now, you will not know what you will need to pay in rent a month from now, even if you have already signed a lease, and you will not know what food will be in the stores a month from now. Add to that the fact that class attendance is compulsory, sometimes until 5pm, so you need to show up to those redundant classes that aren’t adding to your knowledge, and you won’t have time to get through by studying on your own either.

      In my experience students and faculty leave Saba medical school because it is an extremely stressful place to study and work, and you don’t need that amount of stress added to your medical school experience.

  16. Noche says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I attended a school like this in Grenada. It was hell, and they only cared about the money. This school charges $45k per term and once you get to clinicals it’s $60k per term. I saw them dismiss hard-working students who were already in 4th term and close to already over $300k in debt. It’s really sad. They know we want it so bad, so they literally pimp us and design the curriculum to weed out even good students. I compared our academic schedule to too schools in California, and we have an average if 3 to 4 weeks less time to study, and our modules are way shorter than US schools. It’s literally a curriculum on crack. My friends in Cali med schools couldn’t believe how many modules they were packing into our terms. It should be a LAST resort. They’re for profit. And I too would never recommend my school to a loved one. This is the best article I’ve ever read on the truth of such schools.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      These schools need to be INVESTIGATED and full transparency is needed. A business model that preys upon the hopes and dreams of our best and brightest compassionate young healers is one of the sickest things I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t believe that adults would allow such for-profit medical schools to continue like this! Unbelievable. Breaks my heart.

    • Olubunmi says:

      I attended All Saints University of Medicine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s a more affordable option. I paid 10,000 dollars per semester and of course it’s more for clinical postings. Still not as outrageous as what you paid. Am currently doing housejob in Nigeria.

      • Esther says:

        Hi Bunmi please can we hook up? I want to also study at All Saint uni can you tell me about the school pros and cons and what it takes to study there. Please Thanks.

      • Lee says:

        Hey, could you let me know about the pros and cons of studying at all saints St. Vincent and the grenadines?

  17. M Hoffman says:

    There are many reasons US students end up pursuing a field in medicine at a Caribbean school and quite a few do make it through to become highly qualified practicing physicians. The competitiveness to get into a US school is unbelievable. You must compete with the affirmative action quotas whose candidates typically score below the average entry score for most schools. There are foreign nationals who also compete for the limited number of seats. These students usually pay 2 to 3 times more in tuition, so schools will typically allow them to apply and a certain number will get accepted further limiting available seats. There are also preferences given to the many other groups for one reason or another. Whether or not the system of selection is fair or not, those who will not let their dream dye, do consider attending a Caribbean med-school a serious option. I completed med-school at a Caribbean school and scored at or above the US average on all step exams. I am currently a staff physician at a hospital working along side doctors who graduated from some of the top schools in the United States. I also teach 2 med-school courses at a the university. I can tell you there are no competency gaps between me and my peers. I have qualified and met the exact same requirements at my peers to become a doctor, but you will have to work hard for it. It is no “give me”, but the path through a Caribbean med-school will get you there if you are willing to work hard.

  18. Meghan says:

    At the moment, I am considering matriculation to the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. Do you have any advice or information on this medical school? Everything I have found/researched looks promising.

  19. ProudFather says:

    As a proud father of a US Caribbean medical school student, I can say that at least this one Caribbean medical school has provided the opportunity for my son to become an excellent doctor equal to anyone including myself (I am a graduate of a US medical school and a board certified specialist). I visited 3 times during his first two years. They have excellent facilities and high tech. We know that US medical schools are not the ivory towers either. One admissions director friend of mine, told me that they only accept a certain GPA and MCAT score because in the end they have to be accredited and to be accredited that 99% of their students need to graduate and obtain their medical license after graduation. I guess that is the most important thing is accreditation – not necessarily the US medical schools are producing great doctors. – anyone else sorry and naturally they have low attrition rates. Yet many of these new graduates don’t have the skills to take care of their patients. What about all the heartaches that they cause every year to thousands of applicants. Some who have to apply multiple years or start a new career (i.e. EMT, nurse) until they can get into a US medical school. We have a shortage of doctors in the US and yet they are unable to increase the numbers? Sounds like a monopoly.

    That is why Caribbean medical schools offer an alternative. There is no guarantee of anything in life (unless you are accepted into a US medical school then you are guaranteed 99% chance of graduation and a fast-track to a residency). I know of at least one good Caribbean medical school. I can’t vouch for the others. However, I will not mention its name because I have seen others in this comment section malign and accuse others of being paid or asked by the school to do this. This Caribbean medical school has provided my son both the hope and the knowledge to succeed. For those willing to succeed and work hard this school has provided an opportunity for that dream. He is one of the best (if not the best) medical student in his clinical rotations out of almost 100 medical students at a well-known US medical teaching ccenter. I just hope that the medical community and especially the medical educational community (residencies) can get rid of their prejudices in providing an unfair advantages to US medical school students. There is no ugly truth, but hope and that is worth a great deal.

  20. Nadia says:

    Everything that they have to say about the Caribbean school life it is some time true in Canada as I was studying in the hospital theater where no place to put your books and no place to charge computer due to university rented rooms for a money. However, Caribbean medical schools offer an alternative for people like my son, whom all grade in Canada’s university is 92% and over, and MCAT was on the top and he did not received any admission or even interview for admission to any Canada’s medical university due to this spot are offered for international student who pay more money. This is reality in Canada today.

  21. Rob says:

    I read this with great interest as a specialist trained in Quebec 35 years ago. I mentor medical students and have taught several from abroad. My son has dyslexia so could not succeed in his first choice…medicine. Instead, he applied himself and has a science post grad degree. He found a good job, just bought an expensive home downtown, and has a bright future. I feel burnt out and abused as a specialist. The medico legal climate is different today than when I started. I encourage you not to give up on your dreams but realize medical school is not your only option. You are obviously very smart if you are reading this post. Life is short so don’t spend forever trying to be a doctor and look seriously at other options which will keep you happy. Yes you can practice in 3rd world countries and love your work if you can’t get in in North America. Don’t be too hard on yourself because in the end life is what you make it.

    • Dr. Reality says:

      This is excellent advice. Medicine isn’t what it used to be. As a provider you have no opportunities to change a system that has been designed by non-medical bureaucrats. Don’t ruin your life chasing a career that saw its golden age come and go fifty years ago.

  22. Edward Saint-Ivan says:

    Mountain State University of West Virginia was so HORRIBLE the university lost accreditation {they had a physician assistant program} so the grass is NOT always greener on the other side!

  23. CM says:

    I thought I’d offer a different perspective from a current M2 SGU student, in response to the points made in this post. I really could not relate to most of what is written here, and I know for certain that some of it is just factually incorrect. I assume things have either changed drastically between this person’s class and mine, or they have a very skewed perspective.

    (1) Yes, I’ve heard SGU did overfill one of their classes. However, they then added more seating and increased their use of the alternative learning track called “ITI” (basically allows students to learn in small groups instead of attending a traditional lecture.) I’ve personally never experienced having a lack of space in the lecture hall but I am a part of the significantly smaller January class (in fact, the row in my section of the lecture hall is entirely empty except 1 other person.) When it comes to other facilities around campus, since I’ve been here they’ve been constantly constructing new buildings and expanding space where they can.

    (2) Of course, some students complain about the lecture quality. However, if you actually look at the faculty and their experience, the vast majority of them are highly qualified. I attribute the negative reviews the fact that a good chunk of SGU students come in already expecting that anything that goes wrong is because the school is somehow inherently worse for being a Caribbean school. SGU employs professors who have taught at some very good universities. Their profiles are openly available on sgu.edu, just check them out. Additionally, SGU doesn’t just keep professors on for no reason; if students don’t perform well on standardized NBME exams or professors have way too many complaints, the school will get rid of them. SGU wants students to score well and stay (they don’t even charge you extra if you repeat a term because of poor performance.) Low attrition rates, and good performance on Step and in Rotations is why SGU has the ability to match so much better than any other Caribbean school.

    (3) Some of the claims that are made in this post are just flat out absurd and factually incorrect. SGU has an attrition rate of less than 10% — Again, the stats are available, just look at them on their website. Even if you don’t believe the stats that SGU publishes, then look at the match lists. It would literally be impossible for them University to match as many people as the do every year and have a 40% attrition rate. Even amongst my group of friends, I don’t know a single person who has dropped out of SGU. (for the record, I know 5 people who repeated a term) As an aside about the housing, if you are thinking about attending SGU, then don’t live on campus. My dorm room was fine, but imo it’s a waste of money and you can get something better and cheaper off campus.

    (4) Yes, IMGs from anywhere have to score higher on Step to get the same residency. If you are an IMG, you know this when you start med school. If you were surprised, I’m not sure why because for our class, they literally had a mandatory lecture in Term 1 where we learned all about WMPG correlation to Step scores, and why it was important for us to do well in order to get a residency. SGU pushes students to maintain above an 80%, because that correlates with ~220 >> the bare minimum that IMGs from SGU should get if they want to match into a non-competitive residency.

    (5) Students who cannot self study will fail? I can’t think of something further from the truth. I won’t go into every detail, but SGU’s Dept of Educational Services offers meets all throughout the week where students can learn the material that is being taught in class, in a smaller setting. Students can setup a meeting anytime with DES for advising/tutoring/etc.. The Honor society offers one-on-one tutoring for free. There are 10’s of upper term students who have groups where they help teach lower term students the material. If Psychological services are needed, they are also available for free. If a student is doing poorly, SGU will even move them into an entirely separate learning track where they learn the material in small groups instead of lecture halls. SGU is overflowing with FREE tutoring options, so this claim particularly perplexed me. In my opinion, if you can’t succeed at SGU, then you would absolutely never succeed at a US medical school. The school takes less qualified students, and with a <10% attrition rate, prepares us to match at a first time match rate of 93%. Yes, you may not get the specialty you wanted, but if you hadn’t come to SGU, you probably wouldn’t have been prepared to be a physician at all. (probably the one thing I agree on, in this article)

  24. Richard Woodyman ...not my real name says:

    This is obviously SGU lol for anybody who is not familiar with the Caribbean route.

    I went to SGU so I will offer my opinion if it helps you.

    Everything described here is true but if you are earning grades that are 80 or better, none of it will apply to you. Point being, don’t give SGU a reason to dismiss you. If you don’t give them a reason to, then you have a legitimate opportunity to become a practicing physician.

    Here’s the issue though…

    SGU is a second-chance medical school and you have to understand that in the most literal sense. SGU is not for people who want to become doctors but don’t have the academic prowess to make that happen. If you’re someone who has excellent grades and excellent test-taking skills, you will almost guaranteed match after four years. It might be primary care but you will be an MD as opposed to maybe going to PA school or some other area of healthcare. Look at the gainful employment disclosures on the websites of all the schools that have Title IV, just look at the field that says “% of those who completed the program on time.” SGU is about 66% which is laughable but oddly respectable compared to some other schools that are %50 and lower. That’s all you need to know; it essentially tells you everything. The Caribbean is high-risk but SGU gives you your best shot.

    Would I do it again? I don’t know how to answer that. I matched and I’m happy but it’s not a path I’d recommend to just anyone. I’d have to say that there was a certain element of chance with this whole experience. I worked hard throughout but there were those days where I didn’t think I passed an exam or if I could keep pushing myself.

    You’ll see all the positivity in the brochures and the information sessions but I can promise you it’s a very different experience at least when you’re on the island.

    It really is a giant risk but if it pays off, you will succeed.

    • David li says:

      Thanks for sharing.
      Does SGU give the opportunity of rotation in US for all the students or just few top students?

  25. sd says:

    This is a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Kira says:

    This was quite an interesting read. I actually came across this topic as I’m honestly frustrated with my Caribbean med school, so I decided to do a quick search on if all of them are like that, or if it’s just mine.

    I am a local of the island where my school is located, so due to cheaper tuition, not having to worry about housing or adaptation to a foreign place etc. I decided to apply to this school.
    I am currently in my second year, and I can honestly say that it was a terrible decision.

    First of all, the school accepts way more than they can handle. Classrooms are small, and cramped, and the computer lab has about 20 computers and maybe only 12 work. A classroom can “comfortably” hold about 35-40 students, yet still, acceptance rate is at an all time high, and currently 65 students are being cramped into one of those classrooms.

    Secondly, every single book in the library is outdated. Robbins 9th edition? “No we don’t have it, but you can get the 4th edition if you like, there’s not much of a difference”
    “Oh we know it’s 2018 and medicine has evolved so much, but right now only the 2014 edition of First Aid for the USMLE is available, but you can work with that right?” Also most of the lecturers just read straight out of a review book, such as Kaplan or BRS, yet class is mandatory.

    Drop out rate is also terrible. I know of a class that started off semester 1 with 45 students. By semester 3 they were down to 29, and in the end, only 17 graduated from that batch. And don’t get me started on how they ALWAYS end up “misplacing” someones exam grades so that through NO fault of theirs (the student), they must end up repeating the entire course/ semester (and having to pay for it too).

    For profit and disgustingly greedy for money are two different things; I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet! This school forces ALL international students (who started from premed, straight out of high school) do 6-7 extra months of classes, where in this time they will earn a BACHELORS DEGREE! Yes! You read correctly! A “bachelors degree” in 6 months?? THIS DEGREE IS RECOGNIZED NOWHERE! I actually know of about 7 students who decided not to do this extra course, and decided to go straight from premed into MD1. The school initially allowed it and let them move on throughout Med 1 – med 4. However, once it was time to enter Med 5 (the final semester), administration then told these students that they aren’t allowed to go into MD 5 without first completing the “bachelors program” that they decided to skip initially. Why? For 2 semesters extra worth of tuition into the schools account? And we don’t see any changes being made with that extra money anyway.

    Students who have been trying their best and struggling to do well, have sought out advice from administration (naturally) , only to hear comments such as “well medicine isn’t for you” or “find something else to do with your life” even as far as “if I were you, I’d never even consider medicine and I’d have dropped out a long time ago.” Talk about encouraging your students! Not one of our lecturers has even written the USMLE (or any exam similar to it), NOT ONE. Then how can they effectively prepare us for it, when they themselves don’t even know what it’s like? Oh, that’s right…by reading to us straight out of a review book; since we lack the ability to do that on our own.

  27. There is CRAZY money in the Caribbean medical school racket! Here’s the story of one med-school drop-out who founded St. George’s Medical School in Grenada, Charles Modica. It highlights the mind boggling amount of cash that is flowing in this industry. https://tinyurl.com/y79gezu5

  28. Anonymous says:

    Carribean Medical schools are usually for-profit and are usually extremely predatory in their practices. I attended a Caribbean medical school in a Spanish speaking Island. They for a long time had federal loans and eventually lost them due to low performance on USMLEs. I reached the clinical level (did great in basic sciences)incurred over 200K in student loan debt. The school apart from its fast-paced curriculum expected us all to fill serious gaps of knowledge and pass USMLEs. We were charged 3-4 times what the locals were charged and were basically the school’s cash cow. We had a series of events that were questionable. One of our professors that taught us pathophysiology is now in federal prison here in the US for fraud and a narcotics scheme. Any raising of ones voice to any injustice us foreign students faced was punished one way or another. I was reprimanded when I asked what the screening practices were that allowed a criminal to teach us medicine. Even had the dean of medicine call me into his office that was essentially harrasment. I then went through some rough personal issues with my family and personal issues due to stress. My performance dropped, was having depression, I wasn’t even given or offered counseling, I left the school for a few months. When I tried to comeback I was forced to do a re-admission process and was denied re-entry, I was told by one of the members of the admission committee (who was a dear professor) that the dean stepped in personally to block my re-entry. She called me after the meeting crying and said she was sorry. This was probably due to my run-ins with the administration for being vocal about injustices we had faced. I had a 3.55 GPA. Never had any disciplanary actions on my record. Only needed 1.2 years to graduate. The school lost its financial aid shortly after, so I would have been forced to leave anyway. Given im a first generation college student in my family, noone has good credit in my family, I have been unable to even transfer out to any other caribbean school because of an inability to finance my education. I am ineligible for private loans. The other big schools with federal loan programs do not take transfers, or they do but with USMLEs which I never took. In the meantime, given I left that med school with no degree (came in right out of highschool), I continued my schooling in the US. Finished a bachelors degree as a transfer at an amazing State school and currently am wrapping up an MPH. I cannot see myself doing medical school over again from scratch, I invested over 5 years to medical school (including pre-med program) Its painful what I have gone through. All of the time and sacrifice I made. All of the debt I have incurred. All of the disappointments. The failure in the eyes of my family. For a very long time, as its been almost 4 years since I left medicine, I was depressed and just in a bad place. But I spoke to a physician assistant, who was a doctor from Lebanon, and she changed my whole life around. This whole experience has been embarassing for me, financially enslaving, and just horrible. But it has also taught me much. I am 27 going on 28. Many of my old classmates did finish, many are in residency. But these schools lack so much. From adequate student support systems, to ombudsmans to hear student pleas or act as support and defenders in events like the ones i dealt with. I have not let this stop me from reaching out for my dream to practice Medicine. Ive applied to 6 PA schools and also MSN/DNP programs for this years cycle. I will go that route now. I will use all i have learned and what i will learn and find my niche and my place in the system. At the end of the day, its about affecting the world around us positively. To anyone who has suffered at the hands of carribean med schools, or who is reading this and has had even a remotely similar situation. Don’t beat yourself up like I did. Things all happen for a reason. In the hardest of lessons are the seeds that will be the foundations for the rest of your lives. Many people think glory can ony be found as an MD. When you shed that, and realize glory is subjective…you will find it in any pursuit you embark on. Don’t let this end your dreams, but let it catapult you forward. Many may think i’m settling, or taking the easy way….thats what my family tells me for choosing to go for a “mid-level” career…at the end of the day its about the legacy you leave and I choose to do that through my patients smiles and health outcomes and not by egotistical measuring sticks. We all have a place at the table. Be blessed.

    • Nick Wood says:

      Please use paragraphs next time. I only read 1/4 of what you wrote.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you decided to come on a forum and reply to someones experience only to dog on them over the length and paragraph structure of the same, do yourself a favor and kindly walk out the door. What productive or uplifting purpose does it serve? It only shows you are a lazy reader.

      • Anon says:

        @Nick, have you seen those real USMLE questions?

    • karma101 says:

      The way they treated you when you tried to rock the boat is good preparation for just about any residency in the USA. If you rock the boat in US residency even if you are 100% right they threaten you and squeeze you and can make life miserable. That is after uSMLE’s and matching.

      I graduated from a Caribe school(Dom Republic) a long time ago at the onset of the surge of schools. Our class size was comfortable, not crowded, professors were generally great with few notable exceptions due to personality. Tuition was a lot less then nowadays.

      From above posts the attrition rate is high but many get the chance they couldn’t get in their home country. Whats not so good is all the student loan debt especially if you drop out. The content is essentially the same worldwide.

      Not that I’d want to do it again but if I did I’d look into schools in South America that have reasonable tuition even though they dont cater to foreign students. Spanish is an excellent 2nd language and it is spoken in many countries.

  29. Shumba says:

    This is touching. You will make a good healer at whatever level you practice healthcare. One great physician told me, knowledge is one thing people can’t take away from you. So the fact that you learned medicine, means you can utilize it to save lives when needed, or expand it in any career path as an assistant or team-player helping patients.

    To everyone else, my story is a bit complicated but there is truth in all the stories people shared, the negatives and positives. It’s good to read all of them just in case you have a similar or positive experience if you do take the road abroad to the Caribbean. There are going to be better or worse choices, and everyone is going to experience the life differently. The worst thing that I could say is witnessing someone die young; and realizing how life is short. That being said, you have to really think about how badly you want to be a doctor, because no matter what anyone says; the islands are another country. They will never be the US. Everyone will have a different experience and deal with it differently. If you don’t like dealing with problems that you are not used to, please the Caribbean is not for you. It’s just not US, and not all students are going to make it. I am a term four medical student, ignoring everything else (I choose to), I will say getting sick was what got me the most. I was willing to fight through everything else even ignore how scary it was to have hurricanes. Thank God we didn’t get a direct hit. I made it to term four on the island, I had to take a leave for medical treatment in US. There are things to seriously love and seriously hate about not being at school in the US; but overall if I add the fact that my desire to go there was to be a doctor, the benefits seem to outweigh the cost. I have to repeat, there is some truth in other people’s stories, the good and bad ones. You can’t underestimate what someone else went through. You just have to decide how much you can handle, what attitude you are going to pull up, and it if it is even worth it, let’s say something hinders you from making it. It could be something fair or unfair, something you might not have faced if you went somewhere else. What does it mean for you to be a doctor and how far are you willing to travel to get there, and will you ever give up? Is there something else related that you would rather do, why do you really want to be a doctor? Life outside of the USA could be better or worse for you, just know that it won’t be the USA. It’s true, also acknowledge, while your motive might be to get educated, some people are business people, insurance people, and so forth. They are going to do what they do best, so you better be ready to do what you do best and hope you make it where you wanna reach. Unless a path is handed to you, it’s going to be a battlefield. I am the type of person that has to do everything by myself and sometimes God blesses me with people to help. I found out making excuses whether valid or not just doesn’t flow on the islands; it is just a recipe for failure. There are times when I went to classes in pain and took an exam and passed it. Then there are times when I had to take a leave and not know if I will ever find my way back in after losing finances. Whatever happens, there is one thing I know; I been learning to be a doctor and now that I am well, if I could do it again, I would go for it. Medical school is hard, it is going to be hard no matter where you go. It’s going to be extra hard away from your home, culture and where you have your expectations of the way things should run. Things will never run like home when you are abroad, believe me, I flew from the Caribbean, home to US, and to my birthplace Southern of Africa and went back via Europe. Things were not running the same, at the same pace or according to expectations when not home. You have to be really open to surprises if you want to take a journey to a Caribbean school.

    Advice: know how you learn best before you hit the islands or you will fail. Pray for good health and take a leave if you get sick and if possible. Eat healthy, don’t overthink about that people did to you if it isn’t something that physically hurt you; study and focus. If you can’t handle the environment, try to figure that in term one and leave the school. If you decide after term one to go on, be ready to go hard no matter the cost. If you are going to worry about the cost, don’t go for it. If you get dismissed and you feel like you been doing well, look at the world and see if there is anywhere else where you can be taught medicine. This is your dream, take it seriously. People are going to give you both what you deserve and what you don’t deserve. Circumstances will come; but you know yourself better. Are you a future physician or not; and how are you going to get there? You know how good you are and how much you are going to give it or gave it. I know people that started medical school with grades you never thought anyone could get because medical school is hard, and that ended up getting grades I was like how they do that. Everything is possible, if being a doctor is your destiny. You are going to be hit by a different culture, different environment, may be water that won’t run in the morning, sick days, landlords that don’t understand your reasoning, noisy neighborhoods unless you are lucky and at a quiet island or area, thieves (there are everywhere even in US) but this time you might be the one to encounter them if life blows them your way. The transportation might be horrible when leaving off campus, should you get a car or even be at a school or house where you need to rely on transport. Rules are going to be strict than you are used to. If things are too hard for you, pre-med or term 1 is the time to figure that out. The tuition is high, before you go in, decide to give your all, but if you don’t make it you have already calculated and thought about what you could do to help yourself. Circumstances come, even if you are the smartest student have a plan B. Or a plan B, C and D. Don’t let one thing totally devastate you and put you on the edge. People that do that end up suicidal. We lose someone because pre-med and Biological science major was hard, there is nothing easy about the road to medicine.
    Think about the Caribbean life, and residency, and being a physician. It’s going be a challenge. What kind of challenges do you want to put up with when a pre-med, when a medical student and do you really want to do the residency and be a doctor? You are going to meet people that you don’t agree with and people that you will love on the islands. Do you want to deal with that or you want to deal with just medical school and not too many surprises at home? There are some things I hear from students from a certain school, that if you made it here, you will make it anywhere because this school is hard (out of their comfort zone). But they make it and they become doctors. Some people just concentrate on what is going on in class and the positives and not dwell too much on what they can’t change. You are going to want to change things, but you won’t be able to; sometimes, when you go to someone else’s place or country, things run how they run and you just have to suck it in. Best thing is to know why you went there and enjoy what you can and what you are doing there. When you get into troubles, it is hard, try your best to find the best solution you can. Hopefully they won’t hinder you or affect you beyond what you can handle. If things are too much, ask for help or if you really have to, it’s wise to let go and go to your plan B and C.
    Never set yourself up for failure. Failure is thinking things will always work the way you want them to. You see that with relationships, after many years marriages that no-one ever thought will fail, fail. After your commitment (marriage) to medical school or being a physician, things could fall apart. Always have other thoughts in your head, about life; so that if you stumble, fall, get depressed, you will find a reason to get up and live and pursue something.
    The Caribbean schools are definitely a place where you should go if only after examining yourself deeply and after your plan how to release your stresses. Any medical school, or anything related to the high demands of medicine, don’t get started in unless you think about healthy ways to handle stress; and unless you think of what else is more important; like your life. Money is one of those things; you make a good investment to go into medical school; don’t kill yourself about debt. There are always answers to problems. Think of ways to solve problems and be a good problem solver before you enter medicine and especially abroad in the Caribbean or anywhere where the culture is different.
    The stress of studying away from home might be unfair if you compare to other schools; but it depends how you compare or should you even be comparing. Comparison is one of those things that will always make it hard to deal with things that life throws at you. Looking at other people is just a killer. It will either make you insecure or prideful. You know what you need to be a good physician, that is what you should focus on. It does help to learn from other people, but don’t use that as an opportunity to beat yourself up or beat other people down. If you decide to study on the islands, save yourself from comparing to the USA except if it something related to getting a good score. Like finding out good studying strategies.
    Anyhow, I didn’t mean for this to be long. My point is, most likely, I think everyone here is telling a true story. Sometimes I laugh at myself chasing the bus that was supposed to come later than came too early, that memory. It’s not worth being angry about that stuff for too long, people don’t run on schedule sometimes, like your drivers; while your classes do run on time. It’s the worst thing for some; but you either decide from people’s comments, in term one or after a school visit if you can tolerate that. You going to go through stuff, it might not feel like the worst thing for some people, but it might be the worst thing for you because you really need to show up on your scheduled time. The fact that you can’t complain or ask for change because no one is listening and going to change things might be the worst thing for you, but some people might just not let that affect them. You might stand your mouth is open in surprise; while some people just say ah, it’s just the way how things are around here. Thus, story is; if you can’t handle different and unexpected, don’t go to the Caribbean. If you are willing to go through whatever comes your way, then the Caribbean is for you; go get that MD. Cry, laugh, get shocked, but get that MD if it’s your destiny. If things don’t turn out the way you desired, life is full of opportunities, and the world is large, find your way again and if it makes you feel better, the whole journey you been going on it part of your destiny. Being a doctor is not just having an MD, but knowing how to handle your own life; and how to heal from ups and downs so that you can be an inspiration of healing other people in pain. Graduating to be a doctor without the ability to handle yourself and your failures, is dangerous to you and your patients. You will be under high stress as a physician and meet people under high stress. So learn; and to be honest, if you have never been under high stress and want to be a physician; may be you should study abroad and learn some things that will help you mature and grow to develop abilities to deal with the unknown or unexpected. I know sometimes doctors treat someone and they think everything is alright, only to be shocked that person passed away. That is hard. So building stress handling skills in medical schools whether you study in US, or the tough Caribbeans, which also are the awesome beauty, is plus.

  30. Shumba says:

    My inner city High school in US was more rough than a Caribbean medical school. lol. It’s true though, it depends how I put it, but that was some culture shock there and painful reality. I laugh at situations just wondering how I made it, because it’s a strategy that releases burdens life threw or throws. It was more painful to watch kids struggle and always getting in trouble at school and out of school at such a young age after coming from a Boarding School were kids were just kids not smoking in the bathroom or arguing with their teachers. There is no paradise type of country, there is only us in the world, a world we should make better. May be for US medical schools are better, but I didn’t feel that way about High schools. Life gave us punches as kids in High School in US. I had to do activities and had faith in God that kept my sanity; and I aced my way through. That’s why I was like, comparing doesn’t help. What helps is knowing yourself, for me that was knowing that after surviving a brief Boarding school experience and then High School, I could survive anything, even being a doctor if I get there. What helps is me laughing at my life in the Caribbean, in the morning thinking I am about to take a shower, only to be waiting for water that is coming out slowly and slowly determined to get clean, until I learned to be smarter and bought a bucket to store water and made friends with a girl at a house with water that doesn’t run out, and she could come to my place for I had a generator. You learn how to make relationships with the right people if you are smart and people that keep you on track. You learn to be kind, so that even the person that you thought hated you picks you up when you are rushing to class. You learn to understand the struggles of locals and how they survive so that even the cook gives you free food and knows your name. The Caribbean islands are a beauty, but they are not a walk in the park. Before a race when doing track, you thought about the track and you thought about if you can handle what you are about to do, and you planned or imagined yourself running the race and the speed that you needed. Also as an athlete, you knew when not to run or when running, when to stop, like if you pull a muscle. The same should be for pre-meds, medical students and physicians. Don’t push the life out of yourself; but when you know you got the heat and the energy go and go hard. Know which race to run. The islands might not be the right race for you, it doesn’t mean you are weak, but they just might not be for you. As soon as you are a pre-med, the world will ask a lot from you and they will never stop asking you to be perfect. You can’t explain away a bad MCAT, grade, GPA, medical error. It’s ongoing, so may be things happen, even if it wasn’t your fault or if it was, you can’t begin to explain to people why they even happened, but all you know is you will do better than they expect from you. You pick yourself up, excellent Step scores, less medical errors than any other doctor; no explanation just do it. Do what you have to do. And certainly be assured, the Caribbean medical schools are going to require more from you and your are going to be responsible for your learning. You will be required to be in class and you have to find a way to learn in and out of class if your classes are too long. If you need to go to the Caribbeans, just do it, if you need to retake the MCAT and study in USA, just do it; noone else can tell you what is right for you. We all offer you stories, that reflect our good or bad experiences, sometimes we just give you the good stuff or just the bad stuff when writing. It’s also how your brain is going to force you to think, but if you end up on the island, learn not to dwell on too many thoughts, express them, write them, whatever you do with them, just study. I feel like the same goes when a physician, you will be expected to just work. You must find ways to cope, because you will be expected to just get good grades and to just be a good doctor always. It’s not very human, but that is what expected, and if you fail to meet expectations, go easy on yourself and pick yourself up.
    Like a runner, you should know which race is better for you; and if you know races; none of them a walk; a great runner gives it all and it could be painful and make it hard to breath for a bit, but you recover. The world needs doctors, I have friends one that did and one that is doing missions abroad treating patients; it’s like they do everything a physician does and more than what a physician should do; literally running the hospital trying to save all the lives and being more than a physician but being a nurse, lab tech and more. I can’t imagine. I don’t even know if that is a race I would run. When picking your medical school, or your job and location; examine yourself. Don’t make things harder than they should be? Go easy on yourself (so you can do well, you can’t stress when your work is already stresseing you, that’s too much, go easy), and follow your destiny wherever it takes you. If you really need to be a doctor and have the ability to learn, may be the world has a place for you to get that done. (Sorry for typos, writing fast) God bless you!

  31. anonymous says:

    This school sounds like it is SGU in Grenada. I can tell by the description. Decelerate twice and you are dismissed. Professors who barely know students unless you make yourself known. Rotations that are two weeks in certain cases… A school system without Pass/Fail and numerical grading for basic sciences and the list goes on.

  32. Know the truth says:

    The real untold truth is that all for profit medical schools are in the wrong business. So long as profit is the main motive, it really doesn’t matter where the medical school is located. Currently in the U.S. there lots of DO schools springing up left and right, and most of them are for profit. Many would be surprised to know that the predatory and vicious stories told about Caribbean medical schools also apply to some DO schools (NYIT-COM, being a good example). Do your research before making a commitment to attend any for profit medical school.

  33. ADA says:

    Does anyone know about AUIC in Barbados? I currently got accepted into the medical program at AUIC.

  34. Elizabeth says:

    For those of you interested in studying medicine in the Caribbean, there are options apart from the for-profit off shore medical schools. The University of the West Indies provides high quality, fully accredited medical degrees that have been approved by the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) of the United States. Many of their graduates go on to secure prestigious residency positions in the USA. While all the Campuses (Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad) offer high quality Medical degrees, I highly recommend the beautiful Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. The UWI was recently ranked 37th among leading universities in Latin America and the Caribbean by the UK Times Higher Education.

  35. Jennifer says:

    Have you heard anything on the University of Science, Arts and Technology?
    I have been looking at their school as a Med school option. They have campuses located in the US that I am able to attend live lectures at. This is appealing to me, because I want to stay in the US.

  36. bob says:

    I graduated for American University of the Caribbean. I was a hardworking student with an upwards trajectory grades-wise. Made some great friends there, kept my nose in the books, by no means was I “killing it” but I got through the 2 years of basic sciences on the island without a hitch. Did clinicals in NYC…got accepted to a University Hospital IM residency in the South and now I’m applying for fellowship in a competitive field currently with what one would say are a lot of interviews.

    I had about 6-8 very close friends that I went through the process with. All of them are doing just fine..

    In the end I would recommend anyone to opt for a US/DO school, then to reapply, then to really be sure you want to be a doctor before going to these schools (AUC, SGU, Ross, AUA, Saba).

    By no means was going to this school a disastrous proposition for me. I mean I’m currently living my dream. There were certainly people who did not do well, and left unceremonsionuly from the island..maybe they are the ones that are frequenting forums and websites passionately describing these schools as the worst things ever.

    If you worked hard and honestly you got through fine.

    It’s really that simple.

  37. Rebecca P. says:

    I have a feeling that these comments are screened, because the owner of this website clearly has an agenda to discredit Caribbean medical schools. If you graduated from such a school, talking badly about it is not going to do any favors for your reputation as a doctor.

    It’s true. 40% of the students fail, but keep this in mind. The American students that apply for this school either 1. were not smart enough to get into a school in the United States or 2. were not working hard enough.

    Schools like SGU give people a second chance. A second chance is not often offered in life. Yes, there are a whole lot of students that they give these chances to. Perhaps more people than deserve one. I really don’t see a problem with giving someone a chance to do what they really want in life.

    You’re getting a second chance to be a doctor. You will have lives in your hands and you SHOULD be held to higher standards. Heck yes it’s harder than a school in the United States! and it should be! These schools want high quality doctors and have reputations to uphold.
    Of course a lot of people are accepted. The reason you came to this school is because it would accept you. Do you really want to graduate from a medical school that accepts and passes everyone?

    It is so tough. It is emotionally trying. You will get homesick. You will get discouraged and depressed sometimes. You might not be accustomed to the standard of living, and its definitely outside of your comfort zone. You will have good professors, and you will have horrible professors.
    (but if you want in on a little secret, the highest paid professors at a US school get paid for their research! this usually means they aren’t good lecturers either!)

    If you really want to be a doctor you will go anyway. It’s true you are under an extreme amount of stress and out of your comfort zone, but there are ways to cope that do not involve drugs. You are literally living at a cruise ship destination! you can sail anywhere you want. You can go to the beach for an hour EVERY day! you can ride a jet ski (can anyone frown on a jet ski?!) There are waterfalls to jump off of and mountains to hike, and the friends that you make will be the best friends you’ve ever had in your life. I love my school and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I know that a lot of great doctors come from my school.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      All comments moderated for spam. I publish 99.99% of everything that comes my way otherwise unless it is completely off topic.

  38. Publius says:

    I’m currently a carib med student.

    Ross keeps it’s USMLE pass rates up by requiring students to first pass the COMP (CBSE) exam at the end of the basic science semesters. You can’t take STEP 1 until you’ve passed it and you get three chances to pass it. I heard that last semester, the first time pass rate for the COMP was 20%.

  39. Eric M. says:

    First of all, lets get one thing straight here. You don’t need to be a genius to be a doctor. I’ve been a patient for a good part of my life and there are plenty of US med school grads who still don’t have a clue how to treat patients or practice good medicine.

    US med school admissions just comes down to simple economics; you have more students than you have seats. Getting into a US medical school does not mean that you are necessarily more capable than another person who was rejected by the same school or all US schools for that matter. It certainly means you are a hard worker but I don’t know how it measures “smarts.”

    So going to SGU or any of those other schools does not mean you are a “Med School Reject” or that you’re stupid.

    Having said that, those schools are all for-profit and I think any reasonable person knows this so that is why you will never find a homogeneous bunch at any of these schools. They will bring in a bunch of people, weed a bunch out, and the best test-takers out of the bunch will keep moving up the ladder. Test-takers move up the ladder; not the best doctors necessarily.

    People really turn the Caribbean medical school discussion into something bigger than it really it.

    The bottom line is that it’s another legitimate pathway to becoming a legitimate MD. It’s not for everybody like I said but if the economics of US med school admissions are not in your favor, SGU will give you an opportunity that you otherwise would not have.

    That’s really all anybody needs to know. That and SGU is the only legitimate school out of the bunch and make sure you’re a good test taker.

  40. Dr. Reality says:

    With all due respect to those who are posting, a fast paced curriculum where you need to maintain a 70% is a feature of all medical schools not just those in the Caribbean.

    Substandard living conditions and overcrowded campuses are another matter.

    Those of you who are considering medicine as a career field need to understand that medical school is perhaps the best part of the training process.

    Residency is worse, and getting out and practicing in an environment where you have little to no say in your workload, work environment, or even what you prescribe (formularies!) is worse still.

  41. Ivy League Army Doc says:

    I am sorry that you had such a horrible experience. However, I would like to kindly ask this question: Do you honestly feel that asking a student who is aspiring to be a physician to maintain a C or better is asking too much? Additionally, do you truly believe that requiring students who failed or are/ were on academic probation to earn a C or better to remain in school too much to ask with regards to preparing to become a physician? I am an Army veteran who also graduated from an Ivy League institution. I work with several physicians who are IMG. Most of these physicians are extremely talented and knowledgeable. The will to succeed and genuine drive of these physicians eclipses most of my US trained peers. The reality is that some of you shouldn’t be in medical school. However, because many of the offshore schools have a lower requirement for entry, many of you are afforded the opportunity to achieve your dream. However, instead of doing whatever you have or had to do to be successful, you pass the blame on the school. The truth about medical school is this……and please internalize this if you are just starting medical school or will be in the future. The first two years of medical is about preparing you to pass Step 1. PERIOD! Granted, it is true that some medical schools prepare you much better than others. But, ALL of the material for Step 1 and 2 is available to you outside of class. Additionally, if you have the study material for Step 1 and have learned it well, you will pass every class with more than a 70% aka a C. Furthermore, if you cannot score a 70% or better on NBME subject exams, how do you expect to score well on Step 1? Take ownership. At schools like Yale School of Medicine, class attendance is not required. Many of the classes are taught by professors that also conduct research in that area. So, the material you are learning many times isn’t even relevant to Step 1. So, in these cases, you can’t ever refer to your class notes or powerpoints to study to Step 1. Many Ivy League and non-Ivy League medical schools are like that. However, the requirements to get into these schools are much higher because they know that the students they are admitting will do the extra work and go above and beyond to be successful. Is that you? It is not my intention to sound like a d*%k. What I am saying may come across harsh. However, becoming a physician is serious and the path to becoming a physician isn’t easy. Everyone can’t do it. No shade. Just facts. I wouldn’t want a physician who couldn’t maintain a C to work on me or anyone on my family. Would you? I advise all of you to please consider not attending an off-shore medical school if you are not self-motivated. If you have emotional issues, are easily distracted, not used to adversity, get lonely easily, need extra support, etc.. These schools are not for you. My last point will be this. Medical School is not that hard if you think about it. It is really just memorization. You can not reason anatomy, pharmacology, or histology. Technically, you do not even need medical school to pass your NBMEs and Step 1 – 3. The amount of resources available online is insane. You just have to put the hours in and learn it. Why couldn’t you or anyone else who failed a class or exam just commit to learning First Aid from cover to cover? Not just reading it…but learning it well enough so if anyone asked you a question about any concept within the book, you could easily answer? I mentor aspiring physicians from socially and economically disadvantaged communities. We prepare them for the MCAT. But we also teach them some of the more complex subjects of medical school. We literally teach highs school and early college students about Cardiac and Endocrine embryology. Well enough that they can answer any NBME and/ or Step 1 question regarding these subjects. These kids are not geniuses. In fact, some are pure dumb asses. These are poor kids who have even earned D’s and F’s in previous classes. Yet, they can effectively describe complex concepts such as cardiac pharmacology and explain to you and their parents about beta blockers etc. Medical School success is a factor of time allotted, repetition, and efficient studying. That’s it. Get rid of your TV and headphones if you are struggling. Stop going out to parties etc. Cancel your social media profiles. You have to want this as bad as you need to breathe. Good Luck everyone. I hope my words have inspired at least one person and have lit a fire under the buttocks of others. You can do it!!! Do not let the bad experiences of some influence your future.

    • EuroUSDoc says:

      100% agree with this poster.

      This article is about SGU. Been there, done that.

      High attrition rates? Of course – so many were offered a second chance to become physicians but did not like the island and decided to leave, or were not a “material” for med school. Period.

      If you know what you want, if you are dedicated to achieve your goals, it does not matter if you are in the US med school or outside.

  42. Thaddeus Buttmunch MD says:

    I actually went the Mexican route. Not Guadalajara, but a less well-known one on the Gulf Coast of Mexico…back in the early Eighties. It wasn’t as intense as some of the Island schools. You could cheat your way through it. The flip side of THAT is:
    1. you had to pass the FMGEMS (a separate and unequal test to the NMB)
    in those days, and sometimes only 10% did at each take.

    2. the Dean and assistant Dean were a bunch of Autocratic Bastards who
    would stab you in the back with a unilateral attendance policy (too bad
    your professor doesn’t have to show up! Just come in every three weeks
    and take attendance for all the other times. They also would try to keep
    us there until the middle of July(!) or foist horseshit on us such as: Winter
    Vacation is from Christmas to early Feburary (sweet!), but final exams are
    in mid-January! We WERE able to sign petitions, and they backed down
    form such extreme positions. Kissing Butt worked. If you ran the slide
    projector for the Anatomy professor…you were exempt from finals. If you
    were a Girl, and “serviced” the Dean, you had it MADE. If you failed the
    final, you got a “Segundo” and “Regularization”…a second or third try.
    BUT…that’s just a “cat and mouse” game. If your average was low, you
    couldn’t take the “Primero” anyhow. If you cheated or something, they’d
    string you along, be the “Grinch that stole Chanukah” make you stay for
    weeks taking Segundos and Terceros, only to find out you Failed anyway.
    Watch “Bad Medicine” “Losing It” “The Falcon and the Snowman” and
    “Under the Volcano” before you go. That’s the Real Mexico!

    3. There were only a few cadavers in the anatomy labs…dug up from
    pauper’s graves.

    4. In the case of Mexico, the Government officials are a bunch of Nat-
    ionalistic, anti-American SOBs! The lady in Gobernacion used to give
    us a SUPER-hard time with our student visas. We would cool our heels for
    days there! My parents made me register my car legally. The majority of
    students registered as tourists, drove to Texas and cleaned off the tourist
    sticker every few months, and got a new one. ME?!? They confiscated my
    car for a late permit (it always expires in the Summer-ditto the FM 9 visa.) I
    had paid hundreds of dollars for the Fianza “bond” but they tried to
    charge me more than the car cost(!) to get it back. My lawyer eventually
    DID get it back but it was a Huge hassle. Do you see a pattern here??
    Everything is Catch-22 down there! They make it impossible to do any-
    thing by the book.

    5. Most of us elected to do clerkships in the States. The New York office
    helped little…except throwing paperwork at us. Many times-the places
    we DID get were non-teaching, in inner-city War zones. We were used as
    surrogate Interns, and otherwise treated poorly. Brings us to:

    6. I can’t complain about the demographics of my residency hospital. It was
    in a Good suburb of Newark. But-the program director was an “old-
    school” type of chap, and Definitely there were double-standards per-
    taining to what was expected/tolerated of US Grads, and what WE could
    get away with. Then…if you Survive…you get to be an Attending. YAY!…

    7. Most of you will not get the plum specialties…only primary care. It may
    be in a small town or rural area. If it’s in a suburban area, watch out for
    corrupt physicans/practices that may hire you. Pill mills abound, I’ve even
    run into car crash medicine scams…with the local Mafia staging the
    crashes. My Boss wanted me to be his business partner in this! They may
    also try to get you to round in multiple hospitals, making it impossible for
    you to have a Life.

    you KNOW-I think I’d rather be a Physical Therapist if I could live my life over. The make 85 K/year these days, and it doesn’t take Near as long to become one.

  43. 2nd year Medical Student says:

    Hi Dr. Wible, Everyone has different experiences about their transition at Caribbean medical schools. I am taking the time to write this because Caribbean schools are not what people think they are, or at least my school is not what everyone says about Caribbean schools. I decided to apply here because I have five friends who came to this school and they are practicing in the US without any problems or delays in their careers. I have met doctors from this school at different hospitals but unfortunately, many people don’t know that graduates from Caribbean schools contribute to a great majority of physicians in the US. My experience so far is a great one. My school gave me the opportunity to study medicine, something that US medical schools didn’t do for me. I am very happy to be here in the Caribbean. This is my second year and so far my school has showed a lot of support for us. We have excellent professors, as we also have professors who are not the greatest (very few). There is housing for the majority of us, and even if students don’t get housing, there are many buildings and houses right outside the school that we can rent. The farthest apartments I heard from students who live off campus are about 15 min distance in car from the school. We also have free shuttles from the school to other places in the town (running frequently, 7 days a week from 7 AM to 2 AM or later). This is actually beneficial for those living off campus. We also have free academic tutoring either for a group of up to eight students offered by the school, as well as, one-on-one free tutoring services offered by the honor’s society in the school. We have a great psych department for those who suffer of anxiety, depression or are facing a difficult time. We also have a health clinic on campus that also takes emergencies 24/7. The school has enough places for all of its students for the January and August classes. Students who need extra academic help are assigned to a different “cohort”, so not all of the 1,000 or 900 or 500 or whatever is the number of students per term are “mashed” into a lecture hall. In reality, a class is divided into two groups, the regular cohort who takes classes in a lecture hall and the one that needs extra help goes to a different building. So, once again, we are not “mashed” into one lecture hall. Lectures are recorded and we can access previous terms recorded lectures, in case you would like to get ahead with the material. 80% of lectures and labs are mandatory, which I believe is inconvenient for many of us. If we don’t achieve 80% attendance, the school may or may not discount some percentage of your grade (1%-5%) but it is an exaggeration that a student automatically fails the semester for not achieving the 80% attendance. We have a lot of student organizations in case you want to show off your leadership skills. Regarding emotional distress, as any medical school, anxiety and depression are the major problems but the suicidal rate is extremely low in this school. I believe the wonderful weather and beaches around make our anxiety levels to go down. The school also offers workshops on different areas as test taking skills, how to deal with anxiety and depression, and how to study for a specific subject. The school also offers yoga and meditation classes, volleyball, soccer, basketball, tai chi, spinning, kick boxing, jiu jitsu, dancing classes, and many more that I don’t remember. It’s equipped with a nice and big gym that is located in front of the school’s beach. Students come to the gym to release some stress and have some social interactions with other students as well. The school has registered vendors who are on campus every day selling food and/or fresh produce. We also have a grocery store on campus. Besides that, the school has 20+ selectives that includes on campus selectives and international trips to shadow physicians in other countries, research opportunities on campus, as well as, research opportunities in other countries. Compared to other Caribbean schools, my school is eligible for US government loans and it offers many scholarships to its students. For example, I got a scholarship of about 40K from my school and I’m planning to apply to another one soon. I have met other students who also got scholarships from this school, and their scholarships are of about $100K. More surprisingly is this school has partnerships with hospital in New Jersey and New York that offer to cover half or full tuition to students eligible for the scholarship. I actually met one student who got a full tuition scholarship through this program. The alumni association periodically brings graduates from the US and/or Canada to the school to talk about tips for residency, how to adapt in our transition when we return to the USA for clinicals, and how to study for USMLE, among other topics. I prefer to go to the beach, go hiking, or to a resort after an exam, than going to a bar in NYC during the wintertime. Not only that but, my school has such a great diversity of students that it is so cool when the students offer you a place to stay anytime you plan a trip. Overall, I don’t think there is a perfect medical school in the world with 100% student satisfaction. There are pros and cons about attending Caribbean medical schools. Many of us miss our families; we have missed family celebrations and parties at our best friend’s house. But, if you really want to become a physician, you have to think about your priorities in life and decide if you want to spend another year trying to get accepted in the US or rather start sooner than later in a Caribbean school. To finalize my comment, no, it is not the end of the world to attend a Caribbean school and I don’t believe it’s fair to stereotype Caribbean schools.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Wow! I’m jealous. Almost makes me want to go back to med school. CONGRATULATIONS!

      • 2nd year Medical Student says:

        Thank you Dr. Wible. As I and many other students said it above, there are pros and cons coming here but at the end we have to be thankful that Caribbean schools are giving us a one-time opportunity to become physicians. Yes, we have to work harder to be considered for residency but I prefer to work harder for my dream and become successful in my career than working on something else that does not fulfill my heart.

        Everything has a risk, even getting accepted in the US has a risk. There are students in the US dropping out of medical school, same happens in the Caribbean. If the attrition rate is high in Caribbean schools is because they accept a way larger number of students, therefore the rate has to be higher. Keep in mind, that many students drop out because they don’t get used to the island, they miss their families, some cases in which a parent die and they cannot continue studying medicine, some of them do not qualify for loans, students get overwhelm, some suffer of anxiety or/and depression and can’t deal with classes, classes are too hard for some of them, students don’t like the curriculum, they don’t like the professors, or it could be that there are Caribbean schools that really suck. Whatever is the reason, it’s better for you to ask and do your research about medical schools.

        For those undecided to come to the Caribbean, If you tried to apply to US medical schools and haven’t been accepted at least twice, I would recommend doing a research about Caribbean schools, talk to your family about your decision and stop stereotyping Caribbean medical schools. At the end you want to become a physician and if you have the chance to do it, then take the opportunity.

        Have a wonderful day Dr. Wible. Thanks for allowing students express their concerns about medical schools.

    • Ileana Cruz says:

      Hi! What medical school are you attending?

  44. 2nd year Medical Student says:

    Hi Dr. Wible, Everyone has different experiences about their transition at Caribbean medical schools. I am taking the time to write this because Caribbean schools are not what people think they are, or at least my school is not what everyone says about Caribbean schools. I decided to apply here because I have five friends who came to this school and they are practicing in the US without any problems or delays in their careers. I have met doctors from this school at different hospitals but unfortunately, many people don’t know that graduates from Caribbean schools contribute to a great majority of physicians in the US. My experience so far is a great one. My school gave me the opportunity to study medicine, something that US medical schools didn’t do for me. I am very happy to be here in the Caribbean. This is my second year and so far my school has showed a lot of support for us. We have excellent professors, as we also have professors who are not the greatest (very few). There is housing for the majority of us, and even if students don’t get housing, there are many buildings and houses right outside the school that we can rent. The farthest apartments I heard from students who live off campus are about 15 min distance in car from the school. We also have free shuttles from the school to other places in the town (running frequently, 7 days a week from 7 AM to 2 AM or later). This is actually beneficial for those living off campus. We also have free academic tutoring either for a group of up to eight students offered by the school, as well as, one-on-one free tutoring services offered by the honor’s society in the school. We have a great psych department for those who suffer of anxiety, depression or are facing a difficult time. We also have a health clinic on campus that also takes emergencies 24/7. The school has enough places for all of its students for the January and August classes. Students who need extra academic help are assigned to a different “cohort”, so not all of the 1,000 or 900 or 500 or whatever is the number of students per term are “mashed” into a lecture hall. In reality, a class is divided into two groups, the regular cohort who takes classes in a lecture hall and the one that needs extra help goes to a different building. So, once again, we are not “mashed” into one lecture hall. Lectures are recorded and we can access previous terms recorded lectures, in case you would like to get ahead with the material. 80% of lectures and labs are mandatory, which I believe is inconvenient for many of us. If we don’t achieve 80% attendance, the school may or may not discount some percentage of your grade (1%-5%) but it is an exaggeration that a student automatically fails the semester for not achieving the 80% attendance. We have a lot of student organizations in case you want to show off your leadership skills. Regarding emotional distress, as any medical school, anxiety and depression are the major problems but the suicidal rate is extremely low in this school. I believe the wonderful weather and beaches around make our anxiety levels to go down. The school also offers workshops on different areas as test taking skills, how to deal with anxiety and depression, and how to study for a specific subject. The school also offers yoga and meditation classes, volleyball, soccer, basketball, tai chi, spinning, kick boxing, jiu jitsu, dancing classes, and many more that I don’t remember. It’s equipped with a nice and big gym that is located in front of the school’s beach. Students come to the gym to release some stress and have some social interactions with other students as well. The school has registered vendors who are on campus every day selling food and/or fresh produce. We also have a grocery store on campus. Besides that, the school has 20+ selectives that includes on campus selectives and international trips to shadow physicians in other countries, research opportunities on campus, as well as, research opportunities in other countries. Compared to other Caribbean schools, my school is eligible for US government loans and it offers many scholarships to its students. For example, I got a scholarship of about 40K from my school and I’m planning to apply to another one soon. I have met other students who also got scholarships from this school, and their scholarships are of about $100K. More surprisingly is this school has partnerships with hospital in New Jersey and New York that offer to cover half or full tuition to students eligible for the scholarship. I actually met one student who got a full tuition scholarship through this program. The alumni association periodically brings graduates from the US and/or Canada to the school to talk about tips for residency, how to adapt in our transition when we return to the USA for clinicals, and how to study for USMLE, among other topics. I prefer to go to the beach, go hiking, or to a resort after an exam, than going to a bar in NYC during the wintertime. Not only that but, my school has such a great diversity of students that it is so cool when the students offer you a place to stay anytime you plan a trip. Overall, I don’t think there is a perfect medical school in the world with 100% student satisfaction. There are pros and cons about attending Caribbean medical schools. Many of us miss our families; we missed family celebrations and parties at our best friend’s house. But, if you really want to become a physician, you have to think about your priorities in life and decide if you want to spend another year trying to get accepted in the US or rather start sooner than later in a Caribbean school. To finalize my comment, no, it is not the end of the world to attend a Caribbean school and I don’t believe it’s fair to stereotype Caribbean schools.

  45. anonymous says:

    I know I’m a bit late to the discussion here, but this article really helped me. I was even inspired to write about my Caribbean experience on a forum that might help other future medical students which I’ve added below. Here is my 2 cents:

    The goal of this post is to provide prospective medical students with some information that will likely not be volunteered to you by the admissions office of the school.
    First off. I go to SJSM. This is a real school. It’s accredited (provisional for the year via CAAM-HP), there are 2 Caribbean campuses (Anguilla and Saint Vincent) and a head office in Park Ridge Illinois. The tuition is less than some of the other Caribbean schools and there is a possibility that you can become a doctor by attending this school. Of course, the outcome depends on you.
    The numbers (to the best of my knowledge – nothing is posted by the school):
    Required GPA for entrance as of 2019 (newly instated): 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
    Attrition rate ~ 86%
    NBME comprehensive first time pass rate (The school requires that you pass this before you can write the USMLE): ~ 8%
    USMLE pass rate: 97%
    Pros of the school:
    • Provisional CAAM-HP accreditation
    • There are doctors practicing medicine that graduated from SJSM
    • Less expensive than the bigger Caribbean schools
    Cons of the school:
    • Unethical business practices
    • An education that doesn’t adequately prepare you to pass the USMLE
    • Lack of access to educational loans
    I need to be honest and say that I’ve had a really hard time at SJSM. I’ve watched my classmates drop out, semester after semester. Some left because they couldn’t handle it academically. Some left because they couldn’t handle the living conditions and others because they got frustrated by the way the school does business and transferred to another medical school. The rest left because they were worried that their chance of making it through the program wasn’t worth the six figures of debt they were going to incur.
    Since SJSM is accredited and has students that match, I can say truthfully that if you have everything else going for you that you can make it through and become a doctor. However, statistics on how many of the students that start the program and those that finish is dismal. Many classes end up with less than 10 students by the end of basic sciences. You need to ask yourself: “am I one of those 10 students?”
    If you want to be one of those few that make it to writing the USMLE and beyond, you need to be tough and have a great support system in place. To start, you need to be financially secure. SJSM entices financially vulnerable students with financing that hinges on students enrolling in online master’s programs through schools like Walden University. Many students do this. The good thing is that you get a master’s degree out of it. The bad thing is that you must pay for the master’s degree and do the work required for a master’s degree while you’re doing medical school. Some students can’t handle the work load and decide to transfer to a more expensive school that qualifies for loans rather than go with the cheaper but harder to finance option. If you’ve got a spare six figures or have family that funds your education, this part doesn’t play into the equation.
    If you’re considering a Caribbean school, you don’t have a GPA that will get you into a proper American school. That might be okay, but probably not. You must be honest with yourself. If you got a 2.0 at any university, in any program you’re not magically going to become a great student in medical school. Things happen. Maybe you had some serious setbacks during undergrad and you got a less than stellar gpa as a result. You know yourself. With a 2.0 gpa admission cut-off, people with below average academic performance can pay their tuition to SJSM and attend medical school. Chances are, you will fail. You won’t fail right away. You’ll probably hold on for dear life, scraping by until the NBME individual subject exams (standardized) make finishing the program untenable.
    As for the educational component of the school, the quality of education is variable. Many of the professors are well versed in their field and are passionate about education while others are woefully inadequate. Ultimately, you need to be the kind of person that could teach your self medicine from home, as if it were an online program. To succeed you’re going to have to go online and learn from other med students about how they study, what resources they use, what is high yield and so on. You cannot rely on the school to prepare you for the USMLE.
    SJSM would have you believe that they put a lot of money into their faculty, and that is why the campus facilities are so rudimentary. SJSM does not pay their faculty well. Also, they don’t even get sick days. If they miss even a single day, they get their wages docked. The faculty is diverse. The instructors are from different counties and are sometimes at high levels in their fields. So, if the faculty is accomplished, why would they work for less than they could get in the US? The answer is because they can’t find jobs in the US or they aren’t allowed to work in the US because they don’t have visas. It is my opinion that SJSM exploits most of the faculty by paying them less than they’d earn in the US. In some instances, SJSM will have an instructor that practiced medicine in the US. No sane person would give up their MD job in the US to teach at SJSM. The only time this happens is when the instructor committed a serious crime and got stripped of their license to practice medicine.
    SJSM is a for-profit business. This isn’t a problem in and of itself. Caribbean schools provide many students with a chance to realize their dream of becoming a doctor and this can be a good deal for both parties. However, problems arise when the balance between profits and obligations to the students (customers) become heavily skewed in favor of the school, when lying becomes normal and illegal activities occur. If you have a legitimate concern about how the school does business, they will lie to you or ignore you. I’ve heard so many disappointing stories from hard-working students, many of which participate in student government or other volunteer groups whose goal is to add value to SJSM and the students.
    Here is a recent example of a shady/frustrating experience students had to deal with: SJSM, part way through a semester decided that they were going to have students write exam style questions for marks that would contribute to their course grades. The rumor was that the school was planning on setting up a for-profit quiz bank that would make money for the owner of the school. The SGA wanted to confirm that this wasn’t going to happen. They spoke with the faculty and were told that nothing could be done and that if students didn’t write the questions that they would have grades taken off their other work as a punishment for not writing the questions. Eventually the SGA got ahold of the provost and wrote to him about what was going on. They told the school that using the student’s assigned work without their permission was against the law and that the school’s accreditation mattered more that the money they could make from the questions written by their students. The school backed down and reinstated the old grading scheme for the classes. The point of this one example is that the school is run by advantage takers. They see this as a business and will seek out every opportunity (legal or not) to make some money.
    The newly lowered gpa requirement is in place so that they can get more tuition money even though it means that an even higher percentage of students won’t make it through the program. I wouldn’t have an issue with the low gpa cut-off if prospective students were given the real numbers on how many students make it through each semester. That way you could at least make an informed decision. Unfortunately, the truth is denied to you.
    I wish I could recommend SJSM to other med school hopefuls. This is the school I go to and will likely graduate with a degree from. I worry about what would happen if the school closed due to lack of attendance. How would I get my transcripts? What would potential employers think of me when I tell them that the school I went to doesn’t exist anymore? Would my patients trust my judgment if they found out where I went? I really do want SJSM to succeed, because their success is good for me too. What I can’t do is stand by and say nothing while another incoming class with smiling faces comes through the doors of the school only to see them slowly fall apart like all the classes I’ve seen before them.

    • A D says:

      Hello, my friend has been accepted to SJSM fall 19’ and has recommended the school to me. I have been back and fourth on the idea of low tuition, small classes and the possibility of accomplishing a dream. We were both premed/biochem majors from a top undergraduate university whose pass rate for prerequisites were 50%, so were used to being under a lot of what seems to be “unfair” stress. A simple google search led to me a plethora of backlash forum posts against the school. After reading your post you are insinuating that the school is closing down??!!!!! Is that true? I know they have been open for 20 years. My biggest concern for any Caribbean school is the ECFMG 2023 policy that would essentially be shutting down all access to the US. After my undergrad, I just went to the PA route and I just spent 2 years of my life working for minimum wage in order to complete the “500 hour minimum requirement”. Although the average applicant brings in 1500 hours after undergrad. I spent thousands of dollars taking a couple classes in order 1. Not loose my ability to preform academically and 2. Making sure the PA requirements which are different than MD were done. Currently I feel like a clown auditioning for a circus. Not to mention the last 2 years gaining clinical experience was hell. My boss whose a IM doctor/director of a hospital hazed me all the way through. Needless to say his practice took a huge financial hit and he’s actually now being sued for malpractice. I really wish I was making this up but that’s just the culture of healthcare . I saw SJSM as an opportunity but I really could not bare going through it all knowing no one is actually making it to residency and that the school would be closing??? Please get back to me on your thoughts.

      • John says:

        Go to St George, Ross, AUA, MUA, AUC, or SABA. St James doesn’t even qualify for federal loans. The loans are private and the rates are through the roof.

      • anonymous says:

        I haven’t heard anything about SJSM closing. It is a very rough school, with a terrible attrition rate. People do make it to residency, but only a select few. Most students drop out in basic sciences. I hope your friend makes it through. If they get the feeling that they won’t make it through, it’s best to drop out after the first semester so that they don’t acquire more debt. SJSM is discussed extensively on Student Doctor Network. It’s worth a look. I wish I had known what I was in for before starting med school.

  46. Sara J. says:

    I graduated from AUC back in 1998 and my experience was very different from the one described above. Yes, it was hard to adjust to “island life” (especially the hurricanes!) but I knew I was going to be there for less than 2 years and my desire to become a doctor was greater than the hassle of dealing with island inconveniences. I am envious of current AUC students who can now enjoy a beautiful campus (in my time, the school had just relocated to St. Maarten and was located in an old hotel). Those 2 years were very hard because they involved feeling homesick and dealing with constant studying for exams and difficult coursework. However, in the end it was all worth it. I have been a licensed practicing physician for almost 20 years and I have no regrets!!

    • Dr. Freddy Stewart says:

      Hi Sara! Susan Atchly was a very good friend of mine! I miss her. She was the last vestige of the old AUC before DeVry devoured it. I know what you went through. Dostoevsky-gutless crap doesn’t give a real name because they have no spine.

  47. Dostoevsky says:

    Does anyone see this as a call for help ?

  48. Dostoevsky says:

    Does anyone see this as a call for help ? My heart goes out to you all

  49. Richard McCabe, PhD says:

    I’m a physiologist who’s been teaching at US medical schools for 30 plus years. I worked at some of the largest medical schools in the country, MD and DO. I even did a short visiting lecture series at one of the best Caribbean medical schools. Based on class sizes I’ve taught, I estimate I’ve been involved in the education of over 6,000 future physicians.
    I personally believe that the greater part of the problem lies right here, in the United States of America. I believe US Medical education has been throttled by the US medical profession itself. The US went over 30 years without adding a new MD program. Only recently has an effort been made to redress the inadequate number of slots in US medical school, and what’s being done is still not enough. On top of that, there are not enough residency slots in almost every medical specialty and that is not presently being adequately addressed. Finally, in my experience, the costs of medical school are far beyond what they really need to be. Research is useful, but its also extremely costly and doesn’t really add much to the education of the average physician. Since the area of research has increasing become narrower and narrower, and the focus has become primarily molecular, the benefit of having ‘research based experts’ is increasingly questionable. These ‘experts’ area of expertise is often a single lecture – or less – in the average medical school curriculum. The curricula are also unnecessarily complex, particularly in the basic medical sciences. Some of that is being addressed at some levels, but not all.
    As far as Caribbean medical schools. Take a look at the staff of a couple of dozen medical groups and you’ll find that there are many graduates of Caribbean medical schools. Sure, the good Caribbean medical schools you could count on the fingers of one hand, but without them the shortage of physicians in the US would be much worse than it is now. And, really, is medicine about the physicians’ needs or is it about the needs of those who require medical care?
    What is still needed is major reform of medical education in the US. The states, however, have allowed themselves to be cowed into ignoring the issue.

    • Mona says:

      You wrote very good . Another major problem is not really getting admission even though student do everything perfect . Now most of student who is from where I m (California ) go for some Linkage program and fees for that is 60K. That program call medical master program . That is really rally hard program and they give admission to those student who has very high MCAT. So lot is wrong going on .

  50. Ken says:

    What strikes me is that it’s too bad this degree of effort was not put in by the majority of the enrollees while in undergrad school.

    Most IMG’s end up in primary care with huge debt. It makes more sense to go to PA school if you can even get in.

    Medicine is no longer a profession. It is a job, making widgets while being monitored by an MBA counting beans. Corporate medicine is here despite the thin legal vale to hide it.
    If you are not serving the correct master then you are out.
    A complete overhaul is needed.
    Most physician actively work to convince their children it’s a fools errand.
    Develop an app be a match maker find a need, fill a need and you can go to the Caribbean and retire on your catamarran on your private beach.
    Like a fellow doc from Berkely told me, the socialist goal is to get doctors off their ivory towers and everone should get the same reward regadless of their effort. Communism. Hasn’t worked anywhere. All they have succeeded in doing is make medicine a factory job and played into the hands of heartless greedy corporations.
    Patient’s have no respect for physicians as a concequence.
    Get out while you still can. It not a well appreciated or respected field. Certainly not worth getting into a quarter million in debt that will take for ever to pay back.
    It is impressive what people can accomplish when motivated though but sad.

    If you can put up with that abuse you are well suited for a carreer in todays medicine.

    A rest assured you will not last long as a purely patient advocate.

  51. Mona says:

    There are lot’s of lawyer at USA for wrong thing so why there no lawyer for any kid’s and fix the system? Why student suffer like this. If they are going to give a second chance than really give them a second chance . Dr. Pamela writing this will not do any good . Some one need to go after this any stop to start with 800 kids and box size room . THIS NEED TO BE CORRECTED . Since you wrote this go after them legally and fix the system.

  52. Danny Krima says:

    I really don’t see the point of going to the Caribbean and going through all of that struggle and spending 250K to do it. Schools like the International University of Health Sciences allow you to take the basic sciences online (2 years), then find a residency in the United States and their system has been very successful. Their tuition works out to just about 80K and they have licensed Doctors practicing in residency all across the United States.

    With most medical students in the United States not even bothering to show up for class, waiting for the lecture videos and then watching them at 2x speed, it seems like a no-brainer that online learning will eventually become a standard model for medical schools in the west, but it will be a while because there are many snobs and purists that feel everything should be learned butt-in-seat inside an old lecture hall, no exceptions.

  53. Karen B. says:

    I am forever unimpressed by the medical students that intern for these off-shore programs and would guess that the real appeal is that you don’t have to have the intellectual and testing measures to guage competency. I have had 3 doctors have interns that didn’t know the names of basic medical problems, medications, rapport with patients and are simply dumb as a box of rocks if you ask me. I don’t mean every student. I met one that was simply living out a mid-life dream. He read his psychiatry textbooks and tried to ask as many patients to share their experience with their illness as a way to understand. The rest probably have IQs lower than average (most doctors fall between 108 and 130 and money is getting them through these programs. I have no idea how they’ll pass their medical boards unless the “off shore” program has figured a way around that too. I dealt with one earnest bonehead today from AMA and I got so impatient with him wasting my time. I won’t go back to doctors that house these brats. I think mom and dad are footing the bill because their precious child cannot handle the competition stateside. Extreme measures much? Please don’t put people in the hands of these millennial students. It is scary. The guy didn’t even know simple generic names for Zyrtec or such a thing as pericarditis. I wanted to finally speak up. It’s using patient money for research and education without the consent of the consumer. He’s a 3rd year med student, end of year and dude is clueless.

    • Danny Krima says:

      It seems hard for an offshore med student who passes all of the same exams as a stateside student (they have to, it’s mandatory, and no there are no shortcuts) to be somehow vastly inferior to the point of them being incompetent compared to stateside students. If that’s the case, then the USMLEs are not hard enough and should be re-examined for their difficulty and effectiveness for being used as a gauge to grant would-be Doctors advancement toward becoming licensed to practice.

      One thing I would tell you is not to judge newcomers so harshly in the moment and understand that everyone reaches their potential at different rates. Even Einstein wasn’t Einstein over night, it took time. I was once a newcomer myself and someone may have thought I was incapable, but they were wrong, I was highly capable, just not confident yet. But over time things clicked and I came into my own and surpassed those who trained me.

  54. John None -traditional student says:

    I have read several comments on here and I understand that you may feel as if you are getting shafted, but most of the whining is coming from young inexperienced students. What you don’t know is, in graduate school, you need an 80% to keep going, so a 70 should be a walk in the park, if not, you are just not cut out for medical school. This is not undergraduate, welcome to the majors. Who wants a doctor that only knows 60% of the material, not to mention what boards do you think you will pass? AUA, MUA, St George, SABA, are top notch schools and some of you guys are just flat out lying because you are upset. None of those schools have an attrition rate higher than 14%. The medical schools in the US did not want you, be thankful that you got a chance, but you found out that it was not for you. How do I know, because thousands and thousands have passed through and are now doctors and you didn’t. See, people lie, but numbers don’t. I took the information that admissions counselors give me and then I verify it by looking on the USMLE websites, I counted the number of students that got matched against their graduation roster, I also compared all the big four and gathered more information from reputable well researched sites and will make my decision whether to attend St George, SABA, or MUA, University of Arizona, University of Virginia, Harvard Medical, or Johns Hopkins. I, unlike some of you on here, don’t have to attend an international medical school. I have a very strong application. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology with a 3.0 GPA and my BCMP GPA is 3.87. I scored a 517 on the MCAT, I have a masters in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins with a GPA of 3.68 The recommended courses from this Masters are: Biochemistry, Biostatistics, Genetics, and a research project. I also have a Masters in Applied Behavioral Analysis from the Chicago school of professional psychology and I will be publishing my research on paraphilic disorders by the end of august. I want to be a psychiatrist and have 6 years experience working with sever persistent mentally ill, and great recommendations. I will most likely attend Johns Hopkins and do a fellowship with Yale, but I know the road won’t be easy. The program that I have a Masters in, is similar to your basic sciences. I could not score less than an 80 in any course or I would have been placed on academic probation. 90% of all graduate schools require a 3.0 GPA to graduate, especially at the doctorate level. You are an expert in your field, so why would you want a school to accept less because you want to be able to party, go out, and cram for tests. I’m sorry, at the graduate level those days are over. So, if someone that is considering going to medical school overseas, here is real advice: 1. If you have poor study habits fix them or don’t go to medical school at all. 2. If you want a warm and fuzzy feeling and are not used to fighting for what you want, instead of waiting for it, then medical school is not for you 3. The best schools in the Caribbean are: SABA, ST George, MUA, AUA, and Ross St. Matthews is okay, but they did not get approved in California and this concerns me. California approval is a good indicator of quality because their board is very strict in evaluating a school. Other than those schools, along with AUC, I would not waist my time. 4. Gain work experience, shadow, volunteer, and do a master’s first to help strengthen your application. 5. Don’t kill someone else’s dream because you can’t reach your own. 6. Do your own research, if thousands have come through the school and became doctors, why can’t you? The Dept of Education would not accredit these schools if attrition was that high, and they definitely would not qualify to receive federal funding. I know this because im not 20 obviously and I know how schools are accredited, so I also know when someone is stretching the truth a lot. Graduating from one of the big four, hard work, good study habits, and a positive attitude is the real road to residency.

    • Danny Krima says:

      I’m just being honest with you, not meant to be mean, just honest. A 3.0 GPA is unimpressive and can easily get lost in the shuffle of competition with higher-graded students. I had a 4.0 GPA for both my Psychology degrees and it was still hard to get into a good medical school.

  55. Dahn Shaulis says:

    My name is Dahn Shaulis. I am an independent higher education analyst and would like to know more about US-owned Caribbean medical schools. Do these schools give kickbacks to hospitals in the States so that their students get experience and jobs? I am particularly interested to know whether these students are more likely to end up in hospitals of last resort, where they may be more likely to get away with mistakes.

    • Seaweed says:

      Dahn. I will be happy to share more information with you. The conditions are not the problem, however students have no support.

      I was not allowed to take my step 2 exam. There were no mandatory regulations for another comp exam in place, but while I was studying, the exam was implemented. Passing scores were raised 3-4 times over the course of 2 years; every time I met the criteria the score was raised. The NBME practice scores equated my attempts to a passing score, but the school did not. I met with the owner and the dean of the school in Manhattan asking why, I had a 3.5 GPA BY THEIR OWN STANDARDS and they would not let me sit for the exam. Why could they take my money each semester (which the school’s loan company is after me for now) and they would not let me take my exam?
      Couldn’t they alert me $200k sooner if they thought I needed to step up my game rather than giving me A’s?
      They replied that they NOW get US federal loans and wanted only the best of students to reflect their scores. …I told them I never got federal loans. They said that they would not take the risk of lowering their statistics by allowing me to sit for the exam.

      Upon reflection research, AUA did not uphold the accreditation standards they were mandated to uphold.
      They are supposed to act in the best interest of the student. With everything else completed, they did me every disservice to prevent me from taking my exam – this offered no benefit.
      My rotations were delayed for 7 months following Step 1, as they did not have enough hospital slots, and they were all out of order.
      They did not have resources for us; I did not have access to UpToDate, tutors or study guides as students are now offered.

      After starting rotations, half of the hospitals they were rotating with when I signed for an apartment said the school nulled their contract and we could no longer rotate with them (Norwegian Hospital, St. Mary’s and several others)

      For YEARS during which I studied for step, I was given the runaround. At this stage, I was fully invested; I would die in the process, but I would not give up. There was nothing left to go back to. I am still dying. The US Department of Education’s foreign schools team in Washington was also fixated more on the finances as related to the country (as opposed to the finances as related to students – citizens) or the standards of the academic institution. When speaking to Washington I specifically said, I’m not talking about the money, I want to take my exam… Washington Department of Education – Foreign Schools Team refused to discuss anything but federal finances.

      The physicians that make it through the system are excellent and have been through more abuse than US physicians… but unfortunately, many of the ones who are roadblocked are also strong in their skills and knowledge base.

      Who would not rather kill themselves than pay the institution for this abuse? Seriously. Who wouldn’t have developed PTSD under these circumstances?

      The sad thing is that I look around to my colleagues. The lights have gone out. Say whatever you like, but we were in all the way: Mind, body, soul, money. And almost none of that is left.
      I give warm heartfelt congratulations to those who have made it through the game of the system… they deserve it.

      Also a point of note, the Caribbean medical school accreditation committee includes officials from the Caribbean medical schools – a conflict of interest to govern themselves, wouldn’t you say?

      So. Nutshell version. Everyone will ask you for the money.
      You will not have a clear picture painted for you.
      Do not rely on guidelines to remain as they are.
      Its a crapshoot whether you will be vaguely steered in the right direction by the school itself.
      Everyone will ask you for the money.

      When you’re done, everyone will still ask you for the money.
      Like being released into the ocean with weights to make sure you never see the sunlight on surface ever again…..

    • Thaddeus Buttmunch, MD says:

      sometimes we get away with mistakes (being poorly trained) but don’t envy US. We often rotated in non-teaching hospitals, and were used as surrogate Interns!

  56. Thaddeus Buttmunch, MD says:

    I went to Noreste in Tampico 30+ years ago. NO Americans have gone to that school in many years (they still go to Guadalajara.) …and, I thought WE had it rough! They would fail a few just to prove their Machismo, but no failure quotas. The Dean and Assistant Dean would play Cat and Mouse games with the students. Yes-they had mandatory attendance and a dress code. Some semesters they were lax with enforcement, but, then suddenly…BANG! they’d hit you with it. A few rotten corpses in the anatomy lab, the school had no AC (except for the plush-carpet offices of the Administration-‘Natch.) We had a Siesta in between the morning and afternoon classes, but this meant having to commute twice. We lived in our own apartments. The landlords are Bad down there, and you have NO recourse in anything! The government office gave us a Bad time with our student visas, to the point where we had to go in and out of the country with tourist passes during our rotation years. I registered my car the legal way and had it confiscated at one point-MUCH more aggravation than those that registered as tourists, scraped off the stickers in Brownsville and got new ones. It’s a VERY corrupt, hypocritical society. Most of us did clerkships in the states, but for an IMG-that’ Pure Slave-labor scut-monkey shit, usually in the Inner Cities. Unless you aced the MSKP, the N Y office of our school generated paperwork and did little to help with rotations. There’s a year of Internado and one of Social Service. We Dreaded this, so many actually transferred to the Caribbean schools, or did the Old Fifth Pathway year, typically in NYC. You pay 10k for that, and are also a Slave. There are double standards in the way you will be treated in residency.

  57. Emily says:

    You know physicians and medical students bash NPs and PAs all the time. And yet your medical degrees come from a school like this. I wish I had the hindsight before I went into undergraduate school to pursue a pre-med education. Instead I chose nursing and just enough non-nursing science classes to earn a BA in biology also. My cumulative gpa is 3.98, that was with working as a nurses aid. None of that is good enough to get into a US medical school though. I should have worked as a scribe, shadowed, and did more science work. My friend who was a C average got into Ross through working hard as a scribe.

    So I went to graduate school to become an NP instead and so glad that I did after reading various information regarding Caribbean medical schools and even Us schools and not being able to match.

    The numbers of NPs are increasing and so will our power be. We will be in the “driver’s seat”.

    Np programs have their own issues. Some are plain terrible. However we will get rid of those soon, while Caribbean schools will keep on going and churning out poorly educated MDs or failing hopefuls.

    • Dr. Freddy Stewart MD, PA-C, MMS... says:

      Emily, I share your frustration. Been there and done/doing that! Yes, I agree that NP’s have their issues as well as PA’s. I am almost the only person that I know that has done both. This system is designed to produce and pick whoever has the highest numbers. What you start with is what you end with. Always lived at home, never had a job, mommy and daddy took care of everything, can’t cook, bath when told only, etc…and then you get a diamond every now and then. Odds are about even with the Florida lottery. That said if you think you can cut it try a walk in these kids shoes if you dare. Talk is cheap.

    • Danny Krima says:

      @Emily

      I would just like point out that in order for a Caribbean-based student to become licensed as an MD, he/she has to pass the same exams and survive clinicals the same way U.S. based students have to. It stands to reason that if any student can do that, they are capable. What separates a good Doctor from a bad Doctor is the same thing that separates good Nurses from bad Nurses: ambition beyond training and exams. The ambition to dig deeper and understand more. No school can give you that, you either have it inside you or you don’t.

      So I say that to say this: I don’t think the issue is so much with Caribbean schools themselves for a student who is able to make it to licensing because that road is not easy and not just anyone can do it. The problem is that everyone who makes it that far is not necessarily dedicated to being the best they can be at what they do, and that is the point where we get bad Doctors, not because the schools are terrible, but because the students themselves are many times not highly motivated to be the best.

  58. Dr. Freddy Stewart MD, PA-C, MMS says:

    Spot on! But wait there is much more! I graduated AUC did my steps, got my worthless MD and ruined my life and lost any chance of retirement. Currently my student loan debt is $640,000.00 no wait, it’s $642,000.00. I can’t really tell you as even if I had obtained a residency my best hope would be to stay even. Around 30K+ doctors did not get residency last year. We have no shortage of doctors, only a shortage of residency residency’s. Good luck! I encourage you to look at trades. my lawn guy goes fishing every day. Yes he works hard, but he made $230K by himself last year.

  59. seema patel says:

    SJSM is pure shit I am student there, they will not help you in any way. They discriminate between students. They appeal one student but not the other. I am telling you you are making a mistake with this school. I am a good student with great financial standing. My friend and I both got 73% on our exams, they let her take Ck and didn’t let me. I have to wait a whole year for residency. They ALSO DID THIS WITH MY OTHER FRIEND. They say they care about the students, but they don’t know how bad it is to wait a year after graduation. If you aren’t in SJSM I advise to get out. I am a current student there. They hired a lawyer for my friend because she spoke the truth.

  60. Ek M says:

    The Carribean Medical Schools are businesses and intake more students than they can arrange rotations for. Thus these Schools must force these excessive students ( much like the over-booked flights) thru one means or the other resulting in a attrition rates as high as 40%. These are forced attritions, and these Schools must not be allowed to over-induct more than their capacity.

  61. Medcara says:

    Let’s be real we do not need to be so pessimistic. To be an *excellent* Doctor, lawyer, businessman, entrepreneur… you need to be a daily high performer. You need to perform in the best way possible on a daily basis and need to be mindful of your health both physical and mental. But one thing most people don’t assess is their abilities. Do you know what you are facing? If you know it –> Do you have the abilities to face the challenge or you have to work to improve them? Fuck the master’s degree and do an assessment of your abilities and work your ass off to have the necessary abilities and basic knowledge to achieve whatever goal you want to pursue. Know the challenge, know your abilities and match them. Fuck the rest, excuses included.

  62. Shardae Shavers says:

    Does anyone have any reviews on UMHS is St.Kitts?

  63. Saron says:

    Hello dears,
    My name is saron and I’m a dreamer who would like to be a great physician and I was wondering if any one would like to help me about the reall truth in caribbean MS because I’m really thinking enrolling in it.

  64. Ahmed says:

    I want to communicate with you pls

  65. Jane Doe says:

    PSA: you are MORE than capable of “changing the world” as an NP, PA, EMT, etc. The notion that one must be a physician in order to create change is a toxic mindset and creates an even further divide from physicians versus advanced practice providers. I was loving reading your post until I got to that section, leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. MDs/DOs are in no way more important to the spectrum of healthcare than what advanced practice providers are. Each member of the team from nurses aides, technicians, nurses, physicians all are vital to taking care of a human life. In fact, NPs typically get to have far more face-to-face interaction with patients which help them to create more holistic and thorough plans of care for the patient. So please, educate yourself on the roles of advanced practice providers and I genuinely hope you change your attitude so you can learn to respect those who didn’t attend medical school as just as vital member of the healthcare team.

  66. Jasmine says:

    Nice store, but I would like to say that Nurses, PA, EMT, and ALL other healthcare providers definitely make changes in the world without a doubt. Wording is key.

    Sincerely,

    A future PA

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