bubbajones

Discussion in 'Caribbean' started by AmericanIMG, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. AmericanIMG

    AmericanIMG Junior Member
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    hey there i saw from your recent posts that you are having a bit of trouble deciding on your carib school options. you mentioned that st matthews was one of the choices that you were looking at, and it seemed like several people chose to criticize that school. here is a little advice on what you should be looking for

    1 - most important of all perhaps is to look at your school's USMLE pass rate. the average for US school is around 97%, and the average for IMGs (international medical graduates) is i believe around 65%. the higher the pass rate the better for you, but you should also ask your possible college about attrition rates and the % pass rate of those students who fail and retake the MLE (there is no use for having a 90% pass rate if only 75% of the students who matriculated took the MLE).

    2 - with regards to clinicals, residency and licensure, i know that there are several states that have stringent requirements. texas, california, new york and kansas seem to be the states in which it is difficult for carib schools to be cleared. california requires that the school fly down members of the state licensure board to personally evaluate the school before making a decision. you should check to see if the state you plan to be living in down the road will let you practice there once you finish schooling and residency.

    3 - safety and living conditions vary greatly from school to school. if you want an environment that is more american, st matthews would be the top school, followed by auc (from what i have seen). if you dont mind a change in lifestyle, then this wont matter to you. honestly, from my own perspective, i think that a better environment helps the transition and focus during medical school, but that is just my opinion. you should definitely look at safety...i think people tend to maybe overlook that when they are deciding their choices. ross was my #1, but i decided on declining because of two things that i learned - there was a drug dealer that the US was trying to extradite off the island a few years ago that threatened if the US was successful in their plans he would see that every student at Ross was killed. that kinda freaked me out a little, but i dont know how much is just rumor. the other thing that took ross out of my choices was there was a murder there a few months ago of one of the medical students. apparently a local was trying to break into a students car and the student tried to intervene and was killed. i dont think the killer was ever caught.

    4 - financial aid seems to be an important factor in your decision. there are several schools that offer great packages. i believe that saint george, auc, saba, ross and st matthews all offer US govt based stafford loans, but dont quote me on that (i know that st matts offer the stafford loan when you are enrolled in the MD/Masters in Health Service Admin degree program, and they also offer the Med Achiever loan and the TERI loan). regardless, you will be in quite a bit of debt when you complete your medical degree. make sure that the school that you want to attend isnt just a cheaper school, it has to be quality too, because in the end you will still owe alotta money no matter where you go.

    5 - i personally like having a small class. i applied for and received admission for May term, which always seems to be the smallest of the three semesters. though this may seem arbitrary, i think that a small class really helps alot. the professors seem to be more involved with you as a student and the administration always seems to be more aware of who you are and what your status is. i came from an undergrad that was massive (UC system) and i hated just being a number to the school.

    6 - i would try to get into contact with older students at the colleges that you are applying at. dont just talk to one or two, talk to several and get their personal opinion of how the school has treated them over the years. be wary though, as these are just personal opinions. a good reason why i say the older students and not the residents is simply because much can change within a school in a few years. st matthews used to be in belize, but recently moved to cayman islands (hands down the most "american" of all the islands). also these students can tell you about the faculty and administration that is there now, and can give you more insight into the school at this present time.

    7 - lastly, i would try to talk to graduates or older students from texas, like yourself. i am guessing that you are mostly interested in returning to this state to practice down the road (in your picture you look like you are wearing a Texas A&M-Kingsville jersey) and a mentor that is from your area and went through your program could be invaluable.

    well thats about it. from my personal experience i would reccommend St Matthews, i have seen nothing but positives from them in their dealings with me (plus the MD/MHSA program is great and the islands are amazing). they offer low student:faculty ratio, have a good MLE pass rate, have good clinical sites (one of the few to offer florida rotations), offer great financial aid packages and from all of the older students i have spoken to i have received a great impression. remember that medical school is going to be 4 years of your life, and at most schools 2 years (the most important 2 becuase of prep for MLE step 1) will be spent with basic sciences in the caribbean on an island. those can seem really long and painful if you make the wrong decision.

    good luck! :thumbup:
     
  2. erichaj

    erichaj Membership Revoked
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    Well, by placing a post on the IMG webpage, he most certainly has contacted graduates of international schools. but, to help with the process let me discuss my experiences at Ross.
    I'm a 3rd year family practice resident.
    When I started my class had 250 students when I finished only about 150 that I know about sat for the USMLE. Many people transfered out (no drug dealer were going to kill anyone lol). The left for multiple reasons. Some failed out, some did not like the island, etc.
    Dominica is a beautiful island, people from around the world go there for vacation and eco-tourism. However, if you are under the stress of medical school, it is not going to be very great. No time to enjoy it during the semister.
    There is some crime there, mostly locals that want your money not your life. I remeber 3 different times when a student was robbed. One resisted and tried to fight the guy and ended up in the hospital with lacerations.

    The school has large air conditioned classrooms with tv monitors and amplified pa systems. since I left they have updated the gym and the library. The library is basic but has many computers with high speed internet access.
    Food, is ok to bad with days that its good.

    What I have just told you is going to be the same for any school in the caribean. Life is going to be harder there. you may get frustrated at the kick back attitude of the natives there. But remember they are not there for medical school, they live there.

    Your only going to be there for max of 2 years. Your focus will be Medicine.

    If you do well on the boards you can get a residency. However, many of the US programs like the schools that have been around for several years and look down on the one that are new. With that said, I don't think all of them think that way. In fact many don't. But as a rule many just don't like the IMG programs.

    All the schools out there will tell you they have a high pass rate on the usmle.
    You have to look at the statistics.
    Here is the bottom line:

    IF YOU STUDY HARD AND DO WELL IN YOUR CLASSED YOU WILL PASS THE USMLE. MANY MANY PEOPLE BEFORE YOU HAD DONE IT.

    look at your gpa in undergrad, if you got a d in biology and chemistry. you may want to go back and look hard and find out why.

    I went to ross, I have friends that went to sgu, some that went to acu. They all have good and bad thing about them. They all have good and bad students.

    The one thing I would stress is to make sure and get US rotations. If you don't it will be hard to get residency.

    good luck.
    EH.
     
  3. AmericanIMG

    AmericanIMG Junior Member
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    erichaj,
    great post. i think that, unfortunately, many of the new applicants are getting incorrect information on their prospective schools, whether from AAIMG or from word of mouth. hopefully our two posts will help clear the air a little.

    everyone else,
    what erichaj says is correct, and talking to older students and graduates is only going to make your decision process easier. one thing that i must stress though is to go through your school for contact info on older students. i have read many posts at this webiste and others from "students" at various carib schools that blast either "their school" or another school. if you simply do the leg work and take your time to learn of the pros and cons of each university i think that you will definetly make the right decision for you. i believe that many students from the US, Canada and Europe simply believe that what if someone is helping them then what they are saying must be true. please remember that most people have specific reasons for their opinions on each particular school, and you cant just believe everything you are told. as future physicians, we all must learn to closely analyze information and then make a justifiable decision. we cant simply diagnose someone based on what a random person tells us about them, we must take time to go in depth and took at their bloodwork, talk to them to get information, see their history and many other things to get to our final prognosis/diagnosis. the same should apply to your choosing of your medical school. remember - this is one of the most important decisions of your life, and it will affect you, your family and your future. :thumbup:

    RJ
     
  4. Brian Pavlovitz

    Brian Pavlovitz give me that marrow!
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    Great advice!

    I am a MS-2 (3 weeks until MS-3!) at SGU, and I think you all explained things very well. There are good and bad aspects to all schools, and the Caribbean is no exception! You'll get out of your education what you put into it, whether you're at one of the "big 3" Caribbean schools or not. In the end, you will be a doctor just like everyone else.

    Now, where did I put my First Aid book....? :scared:
     

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