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What we've learned in researching Caribbean medical schools

Discussion in 'Caribbean' started by cjcrook, Jul 19, 2011.

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  1. CaribKid

    CaribKid

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    I agree that taking longer certainly doesn't seem as impressive, but as far as 9 months, I explained my rationale above as to how I don't see that as realistic. I believe you are thinking of a true foreign grad when you write about that length of time.....as in a foreign national studying in a foreign country. If some SGU kids take 4 months, so be it. I personally believe that the longer you take, the less it helps as you begin to forget some things.

    Also, don't necessarily believe that EVERY US school gets 8 weeks to study. I would say the vast majority give you 8 weeks if you want it, but things are always variable. I think anything more than 8 weeks is a waste of time, but to each their own.

    Finally, don't be so hard on Carib students if they study for 3 months, or even 4. Carib students get HIGHLY discriminated against in the residency process, so if some Carib student gets 4 more weeks than a US student, I think we can call it on the road to even. Not to mention I really doubt any US med student was consistently reading First Aid or Rapid Review by candlelight, which I had to do multiple times due to rolling blackouts on SXM.
  2. DanGee777

    DanGee777

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    You don't think students taking double the time to prep for step 1 might have a substantially positive impact on their step 1 scores?

    I'm not being hard on Carib students if they study for 4 months. I was simply pointing out that the step 1 scores are less impressive if they studied twice as long as the average MD student, and probably three times as long as the avg DO student who chooses to take the USMLE. It isn't about getting even. Obviously Carib students have a tougher row to hoe in the match, but they probably knew that before they entered medical school. I don't see how the amount of time studying for it shouldn't be taken into consideration -- perhaps it already is taken into consideration by residency directors? Who knows?
  3. CaribKid

    CaribKid

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    You're missing my point. I am saying that a Carib student who is on federal loans (e.g. someone from AUC, Ross, SGU) doesn't study for 9 months. It doesn't happen. Now, maybe there is an exception due to some thing weird, but 99% of students CANNOT do this. A doc from India trying to get a US residency can, but not Carib students.

    Have you taken Step 1? I can tell you thatr the farther out from basic sciences you are, the harder it is. You are trying to remember 2 years of information. The farther out you get, the more you forget, as much as you learn new material. Now, if you take 9 months to try and memorize FA, will that get you a better score? Maybe. But again, for a Carib student, this is a completely irrelevant discussion, because it does not happen.

    Also, please keep in mind Step 1 is just one part of an application. Sure, an incredibly important part, but not the end all be all. A few weeks either way in study time would be a ridiculous reason to base an interview invite on. As far as DO students, they are studying for the COMLEX as well, which is not entirely different from the USMLE. It's not like they are studying math for two months, then have to turn around and take an English Lit exam in three weeks.
  4. Slaol

    Slaol

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    I graduated from AUC and most students I know study for about 4 - 6 weeks max for step 1. I'm not sure where you are getting your figures. If they take multiple months off, their loans go into repayment.
  5. Textbookversion

    Textbookversion

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    A medical student spends 10,000+ hours doing school work, studying and rotating over 4 years.

    It takes maybe 100 hours to study from scratch to a 30+ on the MCAT. Your wife is afraid of doing poorly again, I get it. But if she's afraid of that she shouldn't be in medical school--end of story.

    If you think your prospects are better than U.S. D.O. students you are being willfully ignorant.

    This is going to end tragically. See you in 6 years after she's unemployed and you have 500k in debt.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  6. Slaol

    Slaol

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    As an MD, I will never have to explain my degree to a layperson. Also, there are many developed countries in the world that will not recognize a DO degree - Australia etc... This was an important factor in my choice to attend AUC vs US DO.

    I do agree with you that it is infinitely easier to get a residency coming from a US school, though. I remember talking to US peers during clinicals that had lower scores than me and dozens of interviews (compared to my 14). This is an unfortunate reality for Caribbean grads.
  7. LoudBark

    LoudBark

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    But when that same layperson asks you where you went to med school, and you say, "some school on a small island in the Carribean"..............that doesn't exactly sound glamorous or reassuring to that same layperson who you are so afraid may look down on you for having DO next to your name.:eek:
  8. Slaol

    Slaol

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    The general reaction I get from laypeople is jealousy that I got to live in paradise for two years. I don't think most people outside of medical academia look down on US Caribbean grads. (I also don't think people look down in DO docs, either)
  9. J-Rad

    J-Rad Moderator

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    If you did what makes you happy then that is good. This comment is not so much for you as for the person reading your comments who is earlier in the process who may overvalue them relative to their own future planes. In the seven years I've had my "D.O." swinging out there for people to see (IDs, business cards, and lab coats) I still don't think I've gotten to one hand the number of times I've been asked what it meant. The times I have been asked have never been a circumstance in which I was being asked to prove I was a doctor, rather, more "Dr. J-Rad, I'm curious what that means". All answerable in 30 seconds or less. But more important than that subjective experience is the fact that an "MD" does not buy priveledges in other countries just because it's an MD. Many countries make hoops for foreign trained docs to jump through whether they are MD, DO, MBBS, MBBCh, etc. And generally, most US citizens people don't train in the states to go practice full time in another country. I don't find either of those two reasons overly compelling to take the risk of Caribbean over a US school.
  10. LadyEMT

    LadyEMT

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    Must we always compare US MD, DO, IMG and belittle one another? Geez louise!

    At the end of the day, we are ALL practicing medicine OR in the pursuit of our medical dreams. There is no need to put others down because of the 2 letters printed on their degrees or lab coats.

    We have all been to the doctor growing up and I'm sure that we nor our parents ever once asked the physician, "Hey! What school did you graduate from?" It was always the assumption that if you are a doctor working at XYZ hospital, center, or clinic, then YOU WORKED DARN HARD TO GET TO THIS POSITION. PERIOD!

    So, PLEASE, quit this elementary school mentality by trying to belittle others who went to non-competitive or IMG MD schools OR DO schools. We're all taking the same USMLEs Step 1, 2, and 3 at the end of the day. No matter the school, you are given an opportunity, and it is up to YOU to make the best of it to pass. No matter the school, you must still STUDY HARD! No matter the school, YOU WILL RUB SHOULDERS WITH FOLKS FROM SO CALLED TOP TIER MD, DO, AND CARIB/IMG DURING YOUR ROTATIONS AND RESIDENCIES. LIKE IT OR NOT!

    MEDICAL SCHOOL IS HARD! PERIOD! No matter where one went to study, if you made it as far as passing your boards to become a certified physician (MD/DO) practicing in the United States, then my hat goes off to you! I RESPECT YOU! It takes courage, skills, and lots of talent to achieve such a goal and we should ALL be proud of each other for that; not belittle one another.

    Adios!
  11. Unzbuzzled

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    If you pass the licensing exams, you are an equal in my eyes, no matter where your degree came from or what initials are behind your name. Sure, the deck is stacked against you more if you go offshore, but if you make it through, it doesn't matter anymore where you went. It's ultimately all about being a competent clinician.
  12. 88845

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    :thumbup:
  13. Medstart108

    Medstart108

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    They really aren't less impressive to program directors. No one needs to know how "long" it took you to study for the step 1. Don't get scared by the "oh i only studied a few weeks and got a 240". People lie all the time about how long it took them just to sound more impressive. Take as long as you think is reasonable to achieve your target score.
  14. FutDoc17

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    Thank you very much for your post... I finished up my getting a master in biology in august and applied to multiple state schools. I was wait listed due to my MCAT score and have no desire to retake it... I have been thinking about Caribbean programs and my apprehensions were mostly based on talk I have heard about the placement for Caribbean students once back in the states.. Your post answered a lot of my questions and I appreciate you sharing your findings... I have worked hard and will surely not be one to fail out of one of these programs because I know the hard work it will take at any medical school to become a successful physician.. I hope your wife is successful in her pursuit of becoming a physician and I wish the best for you an your family... Let me know how things are going I would like to know what you guys decided to do. Thanks again, Michael
  15. FutDoc17

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    Hey I thought your reply to your comment on this thread, it was very informative... I recently got my master in biology and applied to multiple state schools and got wait listed due to my MCAT score I had a 3.9 out of my biomedical master program but have some trouble in verbal reasoning I really have no desire to retake the MCAT.. I have been thinking about a Caribbean program but have some apprehension due to the fight for residency that will take place once I get back to the states. I know my work ethic and knowledge is spot on now and as you had said I made bad decisions in my first few years of undergrad but after getting through a tough grad program I know I am prepared to take on the work load required in medical school. Let me know how things are going for you I am really thinking about applying to AUC and would like to get some more advice. Thanks again, Michael
  16. FutDoc17

    FutDoc17

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    I am worried about her score of 5 on verbal reasoning, however. There is a ton of material to read and comprehend as part of the curriculum.
    [/QUOTE]

    I took an accelerated one year bio-medical masters program and graduated with a 3.9 gpa.... I did terrible on the verbal section of the MCAT, received a 6 .. Doing poorly on this section of the exam does not correlate to one having the inability comprehend the curriculum of a medical school course load. Reading text books and notes provided by professor is not like reading an obscure 5 paragraph passage about Aristotle's view on religion or politics and answering 5-6 questions written to trip you up in a whopping total of 3 minutes a passage.. It is science, the same science any med school students reads and learns about.

    Last time I checked you were not given a hour to read a chapter covering (lets say) the txn factors that cause the development of the sensory nervous system and made to take the exam covering that material directly after... You are given time to study and LEARN the material. How you choose to spend your time is your own choice.. I took endocrinology, physiology, immunology, developmental neurology, microbiology ect.. in the masters program I attended and was able to comprehend the material just fine.. It all comes down to the hours of studying you choose to put in... If she was able to grad w the gpa he said she had she can handle medical school in any format... Doing poorly on the MCAT does not mean you can not handle a course load and perform well in clinical rotations.. some people are better at standardized testing than others.. and comparing the MCAT to the USMLE is a joke.

    "The USMLE assesses a physician's ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles, and to determine fundamental patient-centered skills that are important in health and disease and that constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care."

    It has hardly correlates to type of material tested on the MCAT.
  17. magdellan

    magdellan

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    I'm attending medical school in the Carib, and to be brutally honest, there are a lot of dumb people here. Carib schools let in pretty much anyone with a pulse. I'm not trying to be mean, but it is what it is.
    So it all comes down to your STEP score. Once you pass the STEP then you're as good as any US grad.
  18. Medstart108

    Medstart108

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    Read on your blog that the school cut off all the popular websites like facebook, tumblr, instagram etc. Is that what they do just so you study more?
  19. magdellan

    magdellan

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    Haha. Partly. But mostly because they're trying to limit the bandwidth used by students. Perks of living on an island include crappy internet.
  20. prefontaine

    prefontaine Senior Member

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    This is not even remotely close to the truth.
  21. Skip Intro

    Skip Intro Registered User

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    Expanding further on this...

    I'd like to know, magdellan, exactly what you meant by "you're as good as any US grad" and to expand on what prefontaine said.

    Reading your other posts above, magdellan, I would generally agree with the fact that, down the road, your future colleagues will judge you by your clinical acumen and not where you went to school. However, there are many hurdles and obstacles in the way before you get there. This is what I think prefontaine was responding to.

    It will be much harder for you to get a choice residency spot. It's going to continue to get harder. I was lucky to get into a very good anesthesiology residency way-back-when in 2005. I doubt I could get that same spot now.

    But, at the same time I was going through the Match, I never harbored any illusion that I was going to get a spot at UCSF or Columbia or Hopkins. Never in my cards. I knew in that regard that I would never be seen to be "as good as any US grad" even if I had scored 270+ on both Steps.

    So, that's what I think those of us who've been posting here for 10+ years keep harping on over and over again. Do not go to the Caribbean thinking that you are going to get into a top tier residency program in a choice city. Do not go thinking you are going to get Derm, Ortho, Plastics, ENT, RadOnc,or Neurosurgery after you graduate. Despite the rare anecdotes, it's just not going happen for you. Go with that in mind.

    If you go with the belief that you are likely going to get into Internal Medicine and a decent or low-tier University program, or some other not "choice" residency somewhere, you may have a shot. This does not mean that you are seen as "equal" in the eyes of program directors everywhere, just because you've passed the Steps.

    I was lucky that I got into my field. But, it was planned "luck" that went with a lot of effort, a stacked resume, good connections, and a residency program that was willing to take a chance on me - not because I was seen as "equal" to a US grad. That is the reality.

    -Skip
  22. magdellan

    magdellan

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    I do not disagree with any of the points you made. It is a lot harder. But it's not impossible. My school just posted its 2013 Match results: http://www.eustatiusmed.edu/our-programs/curriculum/clinical-medicine-program/residency-placements/residency-placements-2013/ and the top placements are in family, psych and internal med. There's even one in derm. That will be me one day lol
  23. xngn8r

    xngn8r

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    I just found this thread and was surprised that it was still alive after 2 years. I am not sure if anyone is aware of it, but the OP and his wife did go to AUC. A couple of people here were predicting that she would fail the school because of her poor MCAT. Well, she has not. She is about to start her clinical rotations. This family did go through some tough times because of health issues, but they continue with their quest. If anyone is interested, the husband has a blog http://www.thecrookstons.com/ . I wish them all the best.
  24. Slaol

    Slaol

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    Great post :)

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2
  25. cjl08k

    cjl08k

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    Thank you so much for this! Although this wasn't earth shattering findings, I appreciate the time you took to write everything out and so well organized! This was very encouraging so thank you again :)
  26. Skip Intro

    Skip Intro Registered User

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    I would not count on it.

    Family practice? Psych? Internal medicine? Probably. Not trying to burst your bubble. I read your blog. You are a cute kid. ;)

    -Skip
  27. Slaol

    Slaol

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    As an AUC grad in a family medicine residency, I agree that most Caribbean grads go into primary care now-a-days. Those with good connections (family in certain fields, etc) and great board scores + great LOR can get into more competitive fields. Even then, it is a good idea to get plenty of interviews with primary care programs.

    Even with good scores and LORs, Caribbean grads will automatically be lower on the rung than american grads. I remember rotating with American grads in my 4th year that had lower scores than me on the USMLE exams, yet had dozens of Family Medicine interviews (compared to my 14). This is a reality that people considering offshore schools should seriously consider. Not to mention the fact that it is estimated that there will be fewer residency spots than US grads by 2017 in the match.

    My advice: Shoot for the moon, but be sure to cover your butt with realistic backups if you are planning for something like dermatology. (I know several people who did not match because they were too proud to pick IM/FM/Psych/Peds).
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  28. jackets5

    jackets5 Senior Member

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    Also for the Derm match. There are 1 or 2 scenarios how it happened. 1. The person has some major, major connections. 2. The person has spent 2 maybe more doing research at the place they matched. My school had a Derm match a few years ago, know for a fact that person had spent 3 years working and doing Derm research at the place they matched at.

    Also for everyone of these success stories there are many bad ones. I know a guy who has spent 2+ years doing Ortho research at one of the best Ortho programs in the country. Has 240+ on both step 1 and 2 has plenty of pubs and can't get an Ortho spot. They don't want him at the program he is at because some in the hierarchy refuse to take a Caribbean student. He is in a awful position, when he applied to family med, all he was asked about you have all this Ortho, so family is your back up.
  29. Medstart108

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    Aww that sucks... Horrible to be put in that position. Maybe he should apply to other ortho programs?
  30. jackets5

    jackets5 Senior Member

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    No, I wasn't clear. He can't get a spot anywhere, he has applied for 3 years and got a total of 0,2,1 interviews each time. The program he's doing research at doesn't want him because of the Caribbean stigma and other places don't want someone who can't even get a spot at a place they have been doing research at for 2+ years. He's going to do family medicine with a sports medicine fellowship now but three years of his life are gone, with nothing tangible to show for it.

    There are plenty of stories exactly like his. His is not an isolated incident.
  31. Medstart108

    Medstart108

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    Damn that sucks. I feel like this guy truly likes ortho and isn't doing it just for the money. He would probably get in if he was a Canadian citizen in Canada. Ortho isn't as competitive in canada precisely because it pays less than in the US but is exactly the same otherwise.
  32. medisforme

    medisforme mental health nurse

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    If you were a canadian citizen with a caribbean MD you would have exactly 0% shot at a canadian orthopedics residency. In fact, your chances for any residency outside of family or psych are next to nothing as an IMG in Canada (even family or psych are long shots for most IMG's up here).
  33. Luckydoc19

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    Ortho for an IMG in Canada is not less competitive. There are only 6 available positions in the whole country for IMG's for ortho, all of which happen to be in Ontario (a very popular location for IMG's to apply to to begin with). IMG's who want ortho are, unfortunately, put in a tough position, even if they truly love it.
  34. zdbsy

    zdbsy

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    My shadowing doctor emphasized that the Caribbean schools can only lead you to a primary/family care doctors. If you wanna specialized like ortho do not go there. It's better to take a year off and study than being in a ****load of trouble after years.
  35. Skip Intro

    Skip Intro Registered User

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    Patently false. Just look at the match lists for the various well-established Caribbean schools on their websites. Likewise, I'm living proof.

    Most U.S. MD grads don't have a shot at ortho. But, I otherwise agree: you are highly unlikely to get an ortho spot coming out of a Caribbean program.

    If you are an otherwise a relatively average student in your undergraduate training that can't get into an MD program but maybe still has good enough stats to get into a D.O. program - and you really have your heart set on ortho- I would suggest that you go osteopathy route and match into a D.O. ortho-surgery training program. I work with a guy who did this, and he is so successful in private practice that he's easily making 7-figures now. (His wife, incidentally, is also a D.O. and PMR/chronic pain interventional pain trained who's not far behind salary-wise.)

    -Skip
  36. berkeleyboy

    berkeleyboy Senior Member

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    This original thread is awesome. Fantastic information coming from a well informed couple knowing their limitations and potential. It cracks me up that this thread has jumped into another amg vs img vs do argument. Lol kudos to the young medical student finally going into clinicals and experiencing the right of passage.
  37. shadowmoosey

    shadowmoosey

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    I hate to bump an old thread, but after reading all of the comments from the OP, I don't understand why she is so against re-taking the MCAT. She places the blame of her low test score on her pregnancy, and makes no effort to re-take it whatsoever, knowing full well she could potentially do better. Her only stat that was lacking was the MCAT, and she could have devoted several weeks of studying to improve it. I'm completely confused why the couple overlooked this option, and immediately took the Caribbean route. She would have been competitive for US MD/DO schools if she got a solid score the 2nd time around.

    Oh well, in the end it doesn't matter. There was lots of good advice in this thread, and it seemed like the couple didn't want to take any of it. They have long since left this forum, and may or may not have followed through with their AUC decision.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  38. valle65

    valle65

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    Hi
    I don't know if you and your family have taken the step in going through the process. If so, I am in a similar situation with kids, and family. I was in med school years ago but never completed it. Thinking about going to the a med school in the Caribbean. My wife is from the Caribbean(south America) I don't know if it helps with the culture if we do plan to take the step.,Is it possible you can contact me at [email protected]
    Thanks alot
  39. RN26

    RN26

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    Everyone complains that US IMGs have poor matching..

    IMGs usually match into internal med, but what if you interest IS internal medicine?!
  40. Skip Intro

    Skip Intro Registered User

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    Then you should be do well provided you don't expect to train at Harvard or Hopkins or Duke (etc.).

    There are plenty of good/"average" University-based IM program where, if you kick-butt, the fellowship doors will open for you. More specialty training, with few exceptions, usually means more income in the end.

    It's like climbing stairs. Each step higher requires more effort, but you should be okay provided you have stamina and are willing to climb.

    -Skip
  41. danny89

    danny89

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    I've been meaning to ask, I know it is usually easier to get a general IM residency from the big 4 schools, but how hard is it to get a fellowship and subspecialize, say, into cardiology, hospital medicine, or hematology?
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  42. Medstart108

    Medstart108

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    Even most of the community programs that are predominantly IMG i've seen 50% go into some sort of fellowship.

    For university programs that number is usually between 50%-75% for the better ones.

    Your chance of fellowship is pretty good, but keep in mind fellowship is a whole different game. If you do well in residency you can get a good fellowship.

    Thats likely why some of the community programs with FMGs have fellowships at JHU or Yale. Some FMGs that were stellar but were brought down by their citizenship/lack of USCE will excel in residency and with that USCE, the top programs want them for fellowship.
  43. survivordo

    survivordo Gettin' through it

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    I seriously question the foresight of someone that would choose to go to a Caribbean school (especially with a family!) rather than retake the MCAT (which they clearly took under substandard conditions the first time) and potentially go to a US MD/DO school.

    Survivor DO
  44. Skip Intro

    Skip Intro Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2002
    Messages:
    2,426
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    SDN 10+ Year Member
    There were families on the island with students when I was there. They had a blast. While the rest of us where stressed out studying, a frequent comment I heard from them was that it was the happiest and most peaceful time of their life.

    To each his own. HGTV even did a "House Hunter's International" program recently with a student and his family moving to the Caribbean to go to medical school. Of course, I personally wouldn't recommend the school that they chose but, again... to each his own. (Just know what you're getting into.) You can find it if you look.

    -Skip
  45. edgerock24

    edgerock24

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Messages:
    396
    Yeah I saw that episode actually, lol. The student and his family were in Antigua, so we can assume he was attending AUA.

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