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Canadians at SABA medical school/any other carribean medical school?

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apasric4

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Hey guys I've looked through a bunch of carribean medical school posts and already know ton about them, especially the cons. However, I want to discuss attrition rates and particularly why there is a high attrition rate at these schools. I have a paragraph of very specfic questions that I would like to get answered.

I understand they over accept a lot of students that shouldn't be there at the medical school, there is the shock of the island life, and a lot of self-teaching due to ****ty professors, etc, but what I want to know is that is the school itself harder than a regular US/Canadian medical school? Or is the school the same difficulty as a North American Medical school, but sub-par students themselves have difficulty with the program? Does the school cram through material that regular North American schools would normally not rush through? Do you simply have to work harder at a carribean school like SABA/SGU than at an American medical school due to differences in curriculum difficulty? Or is it the fact that the passing grade is 70%/75% and that most American medical schools don't have this requirement, thus it is difficult to not fail? Are the exams fair/difficult at these schools?

As a side question, do carribean schools take video lectures and upload them online? Or is it just Ross?
Also if there are Canadians attending Carribean medical schools, do you guys write the USMLE or do you just write the Canadian exams after the first two years?

Thanks
 

Splice_Site

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There are a lot of questions here that could have very long and debatable answers, I’ll do my best to answer what I can. My answers are purely anecdotal based on my own experiences, so take that for what’s it’s worth I guess. I am a Caribbean student at one of “Big 5” or 4? Or whatever it is now, I can’t really keep up with the vernacular. I have finished basic sciences and am prepping to write Step 1. I personally have done well, I have excelled in the courses and my predicted board scores are very good (they could always be better, but I am happy with where I am at). I am also about 7-8 years older than the average student at my school and have healthcare experience prior to medical school. I’m telling you this, so you know what kind of student is giving you an opinion, there are students who may have had better or worse experiences/performance than me, and their opinions may be quite different.

Ok, so for your questions.

“Are Caribbean schools harder than US schools”?

I do not believe this is a question that can be accurately answered by anyone, any answer will be subjective and will vary widely based on the person. What constitutes as hard? From a curriculum standpoint, this is very subjective. The bigger Caribbean schools will all essentially have very similar curriculum’s, which will be nearly identical to the standards of US medical schools. So, as there may be similar curriculums in the larger Carib schools that are comparable to US standards, this does not mean that they are more, less, or equally as difficult when compared to US schools. Difficulty is subjective based on the individual student. What I think is difficult is going to be different than what you think is difficult, and so on.

There are distinct differences though that must be recognized when comparing the perceived difficulty of US vs. Carib schools, there are aspects to attending a Carib school that may make it more difficult to be successful, these things in my opinion are typically outside of the school curriculum though. Having less resources available to you at a Carib school might make it more difficult to learn. Things like poor island infrastructure causing frequent power and internet outages, lack of accessibility to products or daily purchases, things such as this can make learning more challenging.

From a school standpoint there are without question differences between Carib school and US schools that can increase the challenge of being successful. Some of these include the quality of most professors, lack of affiliation to an academic medical center, resources available at the school such as equipment, student support services, just to name a couple. Although, there are differences in these areas amongst US medical schools as well. Every school has good and bad professors, some US institutions have better access to academic medical centers than others, and so forth. Even with that though, generally speaking US schools will have an advantage in these areas over Carib schools. There are of course exceptions to this. But again, as these factors are so variable amongst all institutions, it is difficult to say which route is “harder”.

Personally, the school side of these complaints were not a major factor for me. I prefer to learn independently, so the professors were not a major issue. All of the professors were very willing to help and seemed to truly care about their students, as with anywhere though, quality of instruction varies widely. I had a few professors who I went to if I needed additional help, but for the most part I chose to learn on my own, same as I would have if I attended a US school, that’s just how I learn. For others, they preferred learning in classroom lectures, so this issue was more concerning for them. I struggled with the infrastructure problems, I studied at home mostly, so power outages and conveniences became a problem. Other people didn’t mind this aspect though, some studied at school (which never looses services), or they lived somewhere with a generator.

Bottom line, is what constitutes “difficult” is going to be different for everyone. Whether you go to a Carib or US school, it is going to be difficult, and its going to be what you make of it.

“Does the school cram through material that US schools do not”?

I don’t think I can answer this accurately because I have never attended a US medical school and am unfamiliar with the speed of their teaching. From the Carib standpoint though, there may be some aspects that seem fast. Most Carib schools operate on a 3 semester/year basis, so summer breaks are missing, which can accelerate your time in medical school. Depending on the school you go to , it is possible to complete medical school in 3.5 years compared to the traditional 4. Ross also offers an accelerated track that speeds up the completion of the basic sciences a bit. I am not sure though how this would be compared to US medical schools in relation to how fast they teach certain material. I would imagine there is variability in material emphases and speed of education on concepts amongst all schools, but that is an assumption.

“Do you simply have to work harder at a Caribbean school like SABA/SGU than at an American medical school due to differences in curriculum difficulty?”

You must work hard no matter what medical school you attend. Without question! I have seen people say things like “Caribbean students have to work so much harder than US students”, and that is simply not true and seems to be a statement that is made in an attempt to rationalize a perceived stigma or feeling of inadequacy in my opinion.

All medical students work hard! If you do not work hard in a Carib school, you will fail out fast. If you do not work hard at a US school, you will fail out fast.

Now, there are drastic difference’s in attrition rates between US and Carib schools. This is not a reflection on how hard you MUST work though, it is a reflection on how hard a student CHOOSES to work. Carib school admit numerous students that for whatever reason, maybe shouldn’t be there. And those students do not make it through. I personally do not let the attrition rates bother me, the mindset I had going this route, was that the success or failure of any student is up to the individual. So, for me attrition rates were a minimal consideration. Those who make it through a Carib school and successfully match, would have made it through a US school as well. Those who for whatever reason fail out, probably wouldn’t have, generally speaking. US schools weed out people at the application process, Carib school weed them out during the basic sciences prior to Step 1.

“Is it the fact that the passing grade is 70%/75% and that most American medical schools don't have this requirement, thus it is difficult to not fail? Are the exams fair/difficult at these schools?”

This is a bit of a flawed argument. The reason people almost never fail out of US schools is not because their standards are set lower, it is because US schools admit the top percentage of applicants based a lot on academic performance. Their standards once in medical school are not lower in regard to passing scores or test difficulty, it is simply that the overwhelming majority of those admitted to US schools are not likely to perform at a level that would cause a failure. Carib schools admit many students that are much more likely to fail based on a myriad of reasons, so more students end up failing. If anything, US standards in medical school are likely much higher. Most Carib schools will allow students to fail or withdraw multiple times and continue repeating semesters, those students will ultimately fail out at some point, but they are given chance after chance. I would not imagine US schools providing the same level of leniency and repeated attempts.

Bottom line here. Success or failure at a Carib school is dependent on the individual in my opinion. In my experience at my particular school, from when I started in the first semester to when I finished the last, we had less than 50% of my original class still around. Of those who failed or had to repeat semesters, in my observation’s the overwhelming majority of failures were based on work ethic. Some lacked academic aptitude and no matter how hard they worked, just couldn’t grasp medicine, but those people were the minority, some failed or withdrew due to personal reasons (financial, family, difficulty in adjusting to island life), but again those were the minority, and that group was probably the extreme minority.

Work ethic was by far the biggest reason I noticed. The basic sciences are not incredibly difficult comparatively to other sciences. You learn the basics of concepts that will be the building blocks of the rest of your education. It is not quantum mechanics or theoretical physics though; most concepts are not all that difficult individually. The real difficulty is in the shear amount of material you’re given. Therefore, I believe it is work ethic and not academic aptitude that attributes to the majority of failures. You must put in the time and make sacrifices to learn this amount of material. A lot of people come here and just don’t do that, they get caught up in island life or are intrinsically not that motivated or are easily distracted. This is why I really believe the success or failure of the individual is based on the individual, as opposed to the difficulty of the curriculum.

As far as video lectures go, it depends. Some schools offer them, some do not. You would have to ask someone at a particular school about their policy on that.

For Canadians, they will take the USMLE, as they will be rotating in US hospitals in most circumstances and the hospitals require Step 1 (to the best of my knowledge). Some Canadians choose to take the Canadian boards as well if they plan on applying to the Canadian match, but not all do. Some only want to apply to the US match, in which case they only need to write the USMLE. Every Canadian in my class is taking the USMLE and less than half are taking Canadian boards as well.
 

Caribpro

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Hey guys I've looked through a bunch of carribean medical school posts and already know ton about them, especially the cons. However, I want to discuss attrition rates and particularly why there is a high attrition rate at these schools. I have a paragraph of very specfic questions that I would like to get answered.

I understand they over accept a lot of students that shouldn't be there at the medical school, there is the shock of the island life, and a lot of self-teaching due to ****ty professors, etc, but what I want to know is that is the school itself harder than a regular US/Canadian medical school? Or is the school the same difficulty as a North American Medical school, but sub-par students themselves have difficulty with the program? Does the school cram through material that regular North American schools would normally not rush through? Do you simply have to work harder at a carribean school like SABA/SGU than at an American medical school due to differences in curriculum difficulty? Or is it the fact that the passing grade is 70%/75% and that most American medical schools don't have this requirement, thus it is difficult to not fail? Are the exams fair/difficult at these schools?

As a side question, do carribean schools take video lectures and upload them online? Or is it just Ross?
Also if there are Canadians attending Carribean medical schools, do you guys write the USMLE or do you just write the Canadian exams after the first two years?

Thanks

Med school is hard. Really hard. Carib schools are not inherently harder though.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the high attrition rates at some carib schools is that the students just couldn't' hack it. That is true for some students, but the big schools like Ross/SABA/SGU rank the student and then deliberately set the standards for passing so that half of the students do not make it past the basic sciences. They do this on purpose. Even if every single student in a class was the best and the brightest, by design, half of them will be dismissed.

Most of the schools record lectures, but you should ask specifics from each school.

Most Canadians will take both the USMLE and MCC exams. There are also some significant changes coming to the Medical Council of Canada board exams. I encourage you to read up on the changes.
 

apasric4

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Med school is hard. Really hard. Carib schools are not inherently harder though.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the high attrition rates at some carib schools is that the students just couldn't' hack it. That is true for some students, but the big schools like Ross/SABA/SGU rank the student and then deliberately set the standards for passing so that half of the students do not make it past the basic sciences. They do this on purpose. Even if every single student in a class was the best and the brightest, by design, half of them will be dismissed.

Most of the schools record lectures, but you should ask specifics from each school.

Most Canadians will take both the USMLE and MCC exams. There are also some significant changes coming to the Medical Council of Canada board exams. I encourage you to read up on the changes.
So basically, carribean medical schools are more rigorous than North American medical schools becuase they purposely make hard examinations?
 

Caribpro

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So basically, carribean medical schools are more rigorous than North American medical schools becuase they purposely make hard examinations?

The exams aren't harder, in fact it is often the exact same exam. the minimum passing scores are increased in an effort to fail/dismiss half the students. so i guess in that sense yes it is harder...
 
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