tudying medicine in the Caribbean has become an increasing alternative for US citizens who wish to study medicine but cannot afford and/or compete with the requirements of medical schools in the United States.
Today there are about 60 medical schools in the Caribbean which offer medical studies programs in English, aimed at international students.
However, there are several drawbacks to studying medicine in the Caribbean which should be noted, especially for students who are interested in studying medicine abroad and must decide between studying medicine in Europe and studying medicine in the Caribbean.
Study medicine in the Caribbean – Medical studies abroad
Caribbean med schools vs. European med schools
A student might choose to study medicine in the Caribbean or in Europe for similar reasons. However, there are some crucial differences that must be taken into account first. These differences stress the advantages of Medical Schools in Europe over medical schools in the Caribbean:
1. Consider the Cost
Although cheaper than medical universities in the US, medical schools in the Caribbean are still more expensive than those in Europe. Due to the large number of American students, some schools have tuition fees which are not that different from US medical schools. In fact, accredited popular universities can go as high as $30,000 per year. Medical universities in Europe are substantially cheaper than both.
2. Admission Requirements
Students need a bachelor’s degree and sometimes are even encouraged to have MCAT scores in order to get into Caribbean medical schools. In Europe, however, students are only required to hold a high school diploma and pass the admissions exam (which MDIS specializes in). Students are evaluated during their studies as to offer as much of an equal opportunity as possible.
3. Life in the Caribbean
It may sound tempting at first – Beaches, sun and exotic surroundings, but living and studying medicine in the Caribbean is not a vacation. Many students report that the Island life can get difficult as after a while it feels limiting and often, there are hardly any gyms, movie theaters, pubs etc. This is a notable advantage of medical schools in Europe which include schools in Rome, Prague and more.
The European medical universities that MDIS works with are all accredited and have a long prestigious and reputable history. Students from these universities who return to the US do just as well (and often better) as students from Caribbean medical schools when it comes to passing the USMLEs and obtaining residency.
Advantages of studying medicine in the Caribbean
Easier admissions, cheaper tuition fees and sometimes a sense of adventure, draws many prospective med students to study medicine in the Caribbean.
The admission process, however, is becoming similar to that in the US, requiring a pre-med course load, Bachelor’s degree and sometimes MCAT scores. Moreover, the tuition fees in the more reputed and successful medical universities and programs are on the rise and even match the tuition of US medical schools.
The quality of studies is mixed and there is high differentiation in the quality of the medical degree education and the performance and success of the students.
The highest USMLE passing rate for a Caribbean medical university is about 84% while the lowest is about 19% – so it is crucial that prospective students examine accreditation and success rates of the different schools.
Today, students from the Caribbean medical universities who demonstrate excellent academic and clinical performances are able to compete with US medical students for residency in the US. That said, most medical students from these schools tend to pursue more general fields of medicine (e.g. internal medicine) and thus the residency acceptance success rate does not reflect the success in the most competitive medical specialties residency programs.