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Carribean vs. American schools

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Iownhonda, May 2, 2004.

  1. Iownhonda

    Iownhonda Member
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    Hi, I just wanted to know why you guys discriminate Carribean medical schools so much and consider them as "gathering" places for failed pre-meds.

    Are their education levels far below the levels that normal American medical schools confer?

    Can you guys please discuss the differences between these two types of schools in terms of education, cost and reputation??
     
  2. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    lets see, they cost more, are far less reputable, but you get an MD in the end. They have high attrition rates, so in the end only the fit survive - kinda like a way to filter out the truly bad students. Also very hard to get into competitive residencies no matter what someone tells you. You pretty much have to be in the top of the class. Some states dont recognize offshore degrees.

    There really isnt any comparison. I dont think people are "dissing" them per se. Rather just speaking frankly about the realities of offshore degrees. There is never a reason to go offshore if you dont have to.
     
  3. Alexander99

    Alexander99 Ghetto Fabulous
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    Bottom line: the Carribean med schools ARE for failed premeds (e.g. ones that couldn't get into a U.S. med school after applying more than once cycle). No one applies to them the first time around hoping they'll end up going there and the reason is simple.

    Basically, as a gradute of a Carribean (foreign) med school, you're pretty much extremely limited in the type of medicine you can practice (basically primary care) and where you'll be able to get a job (normally medically underserved/rural areas.)

    People always give the story, "But there was this one guy from a Caribbean school that got a 260 on the boards and got so and so residency." Of course, there are exceptions but that doesn't change the overall value of a foreign med school. Saying that caribbean schools are just as good as U.S. schools because of that guy with the 260 on boards is like saying Harvard is a bad med school because there was a guy that failed out once. Isolated examples don't mean anything.

    If you want solid numbers, check out the AAMC website. There's a section that deals with Step I pass rates for MD, DO, and foreign schools.
     
  4. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    Uhhh, I know a few doctors who went to school in the carribbean and know about, through family, at least 5 more. If you go to the carribbean, like Ross, you only spend a year and a half abroad and you do your clinical in US hospitals. Therefore, its not a bad deal...its better to get an MD from the backdoor than no MD at all. Of the carribean doc's i know, one did Cards, another is doing GI, and the others are all doing some branch of internal medicine. One couple is a boy from carribean doing GI and his wife is from india doing neuphro (spelling?). IM is the best residency you can get (but you can get it easily...basically everyone from the carribean does IM), i don't know any surgeon's from the carribbean. From india you can also get an IM residenc too. I think surgery is harder to get, but i know older indian docs who are surgeons.

    yeah, if you can't get into an MD school here, i think its definately worth it to go abroad. the money spent is the same as a private school here and it is a good investment. however, make sure the school you go to has a high USMLE pass rate...i know mainly of Ross, i think St.George's should be ok too.

    people on this site may tell you going to the carribbean is worthless, but just because they're not willing to do it it does not mean you should not. These docs i know are making good money now, the older one has his s600 and the younger guy has a ls430, so yeah, its not bad.
     
  5. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    know that carribean is full of kids who can't get into medical school in the US. i mean, why else would someone leave this country to go to medical school, especially since its not even cheaper? going to school in the carribean isn't the same as socal, despite the weather.

    however, once you graduate and pass your USMLE's, it says MD behind your name, which is basically all anyone cares about. foreign med grads don't get first dibs on residencies, so anything competitive will be unavailable to them, but there are still plenty of IM, peds, psychiatry and obgyn to go around.
     
  6. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    The problem isnt that offshore MD grads cant get jobs in the US, they can (although I have to say your single example really proves nothing). The problem is that some of these schools have attrition rates upwards of 30%! That is a lot of wasted time and money if you go for two years and fail out.
     
  7. Megalofyia

    Megalofyia 425 lbs and growing
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    Why does everyone seem to think that Carribean grads are stuck with just primary health care positions? Especially after someone has JUST given them examples of people who specialized? Of the 7 Carribean grads I know not a single one did primary care they all specialized.

    No foreign grads dont' get first choice for residencies but that doesn't mean their excluded from them. It just means they have to work harder for them.
     
  8. DMB MD

    DMB MD Junior Member

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    My advice would be this, do not attend a Carribean med school, after only going through the application process once.
     
  9. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    my example proves something...out of everyone i know who went to the carribean, they all got residencies. I know more than one person, and I do not know any failure stories...

    however, people do inevitably fail. the reason is the carribean takes anyone basically. so if you couldn't get a 20 on your mcat, you can still get into a carribean school. however, if you're "smart" enough to get a 24 or so, i am sure you'll be fine. not everyone can pass med school, but the caribean schools are more into $$$ then worrying about that.

    i know two more girls who started this january, and i am sure that in 4 years they'll have their MD's, just like you and me. it pisses me off too that there is a backdoor, but just because i don't like it does not mean its true. FMG's get residencies all the time...every indian doctor over 40 is one, and there are tons of them here.
     
  10. bearpaw

    bearpaw celebrated member
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    why not? is it better to waste several years of your life trying in vain? building a stronger app is usually nothing more than finding ways of padding your former gpa with classes and studying and retaking the mcat over and over again until you can get a decent score. i'm sure all the activities one does after not getting are cute, but without the score and mcat, you're application may as well have been fed exed to a landfill.

    every year you spend trying to get into a school is really nothing more than a completely wasted year. you can "try to find yourself" and volunteer and all that stuff, but the bottom line is you're the same person whether or not you turned your 2.9 24 into a 3.2 28.

    i don't get kids who go for a post bacc and then apply over and over again, spending two to four years trying to get in when they could have just gone abroad. i guess its the prestige of an american med school, but seriously, prestige isn't worth wasting several years of your life, of course that's only my opinion.
     
  11. Leukocyte

    Leukocyte Senior Member
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    Most of the students at Ross (including me) went to the Carib. after being rejected ONCE. Why? For practical reasons - Money, Time, Social reasons.

    If you can afford to go through the application more than one, then great.

    I cannot speak for other schools, but the education at Ross is good. The cirriculum is stressful, and the exams are hard, and yes, aimed at weeding out "the un-fit." Many students fail out. But in the end, you are left with "the best." To survive in the Carib (Ross), you have to be a self-motivator. No one will hold your hand and help you.

    As far as lisencure goes, if you go to Ross (or St. George), you are eligible for lisencure in all 50 states. Just make sure you do ALL your clinical rotations at "green book" hospitals with an allopathic residency program in the area of your cleckship. Texas is the only state "that is making it a little difficult", but it DOES NOT ban Ross/SGU graduates. NO STATE BANS ROSS/SGU graduates.

    As for residency, Please do not just make up stuff. Go to the ROSS and SGU websites, and see for yourself. The Ross website is:

    www.rossmed.edu

    Good Luck.
     
  12. Phil Anthropist

    Phil Anthropist SDN Moderator
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    Some of your comments are accurate and some are not. I DO NOT go to school down in the Caribbean and wouldn't want to go there unless I absolutely have to. I'm premed, but anyway I know quite a bit (okay, a lot) about the Caribbean med schools.

    In a way, Caribbean schools do attract "failed premeds." They are known for giving these "failed premeds" another chance. Yes, they are easier to get into. But don't dismiss these failed premeds as people who did not have the ability to make it.

    My brother went to school in a top tier national university. He finished with an upward trend (4.0 his last semester), but the damage had already been done to his cumulative gpa and bcpm. He scored a 30 (10 on all sections) on his first try on the MCAT. He did not get accepted in his first application cycle due to his below-average GPA. However, he was accepted to every SMP program he applied to--Georgetown, Boston University, and Drexel. He was also accepted to three Caribbean schools, known as the big three (St George's University, American University of the Caribbean, and Ross University). He decided he could either spend the extra year or two doing a post-bacc (and maybe a glide year as well) which wouldn't necessarily get him accepted or he could start immediately at a foreign medical school. The two years he would spend in the Caribbean would be the same amount of time doing a 1-year post bacc with a glide year. Personally, I would have taken the risk with a post bacc, because I have an ego and I would at least want to try to go to my dream school. He on the other hand sucked up his pride and decided to get on with his life. I respect his decision and know he will succeed. You may be wondering how this "failed premed" is doing now.

    He's finished two terms at SGU. He's finished such difficult classes as Gross Anatomy, Physiology, Neuro, Histology, etc. (just like the US first-years) His GPA? 4.0. If that's what you consider a failed premed then yeah, he's a failed premed. He uses the same books used in many US schools. He studies with the Lippincott books and the Board Review Series. But I don't know...maybe the basic science content magically changes when it gets shipped overseas...Is he really that inferior to US med students just because they're in the US and he's abroad?

    Don't be so quick to assume that Caribbean students are just a bunch of no-good rejects without potential or ability. Many of them WOULD have been accepted to US med schools with another year of two of postgraduate studies in the US.

    You may be wondering about the quality of education. Well let's put it this way. A LOT of the schools in the Caribbean are purely trying to take advantage of failed US premeds. A lot of them DO NOT have licensure in all 50 states. Ross and American University of the Caribbean claim high pass rates on the boards, but MANY of their students fail out or "decel." They also have to pass "shelf exams" before they're even allowed to take the step 1. My brother's school, SGU, has many students that decel as well. But if you're a good student with a drive to succeed, you will. My brother knew he was ready for med school. If you're not sure if you're ready for the rigors of med school, don't take a crapshot and gamble on a year in the Caribbean. Basic science is basic science...period. Physiology and neuroanatomy don't become easier by going offshore.

    Is the education as good in the Caribbean? Maybe, maybe not. But the same is true for many US schools. The teaching quality always varies no matter where you are. And as we all know, a lot of students learn on their own and don't even go to class...If you're trying to learn anything related to research, Caribbean schools suck. Don't go if that's your interest. On the other hand, since the teachers aren't doing any research, some of them are devoted to teaching their students to thoroughly understand the material. Some of them genuinely want their students to become excellent physicians.

    Do the Caribbean schools cost more? Yes, the overall price is a crapload. Don't be surprised to spend a total of $50000 a year. But if you do a post bacc at a private school for a year of two, and then enter a private med school, you may well be be spending a comparable amount.

    Competitive residencies: If you're going for something like dermatology, DO NOT go to the Caribbean. Your chances of winning the Powerball are probably better. Can you get into specialties like radiation oncology and ortho? If you're at the top of your class and score higher than 250s on the Step I and II and do a heck of a lot of electives in that area and make good connections, you have a SMALL chance, but it IS possible. Can you do careers other than primary care? Definitely. Check out the recent matchlists of the Big Three:

    SGU:
    http://www.sgu.edu/nhome.nsf/webcontent/b9065c6b72b621ed85256b68007047fe?OpenDocument&top=home

    AUC:
    http://www.aucmed.edu/05_rr.php

    Ross:
    http://www.rossmed.edu/Residency_Appts_/residency_appts_.html

    As you can see, most Caribbean graduates DO go into primary care, but I think you can see from the matchlists above, that the good students succeed in matching with some very competitive (and even kick @$$) specialties.

    Are they far less reputable? Yes, they are. But you know what? There's only two types of doctors as far as I'm concerned: good ones and bad ones. Does it matter if you're a DO or an MD? Are you a better doctor if you get into med school on the first try as opposed to being a reapplicant? Are you a better doctor if you graduate from Harvard than if you graduate from a foreign medical school? Let's not jump to hasty conclusions. The last thing we need in this world is more prejudice. More reputable schools should be better at preparing you for a career in medicine and should be better at getting you good residencies and clinical training, but ultimately it is the individual who decides his or her fate. Ultimately, it is the individual who must actually do the clinical training. Are you really going to tell me that a DO or foreign medical graduate (FMG) MD that trains at a place like Mayo or Yale isn't getting as good of training as a "top tier" US allopathic student? Get real. Medical schools serve to prepare you to perform well clinically. Your ability to be a good doctor will depend on how good your clinical training is and what you put into it. Medical school is simply there to prepare you for that training and your career.

    "I'll just go to the Caribbean and then transfer." Don't bet on it. It's extremely hard to transfer back into the states. Even with a 4.0 GPA and a 250 on your Step I, it's a game of luck. Some schools wouldn't accept you with a 4.0 and a 260 on your Step I because they only accept students from LCME accredited schools. If you want to attempt a transfer, you should enter a Caribbean school in the JANUARY term. Entering in August will screw up the time schedule making it nearly impossible to transfer. It's a game of luck because you're essentially hoping that some of the first-years of US schools will drop out or decide that medicine isn't for them. Also, some of these schools require connections (e.g. your spouse goes to that school) or major circumstances.

    I read that there are over 25000 residencies available each year in the United States. There are less than 17000 graduates from US medical schools. Where in the world do the other residencies come from? I'm not completely sure on those stats, but suffice to say that THOUSANDS of residencies are offered to FMGs every year. The US needs physicians. Period.

    I'm not here to give you some biased infomercial. Make your own decision. But you should know the disadvantages of Caribbean medical school: (continued)
     
  13. Phil Anthropist

    Phil Anthropist SDN Moderator
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    Price: It is VERY EXPENSIVE, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    Location: 85 degress Fahrenheit year round? Ouch! Cockroaches and mosquitoes abound. Lack of conveniences (AUC is an exception, but the myriad casinos and night spots for tourists are a major distraction...one of the causes for dropouts). Most of them are in third world countries. Some areas down there are as depressing as the worst slums in the US. If you're going to go to school in the Caribbean, it is probably in your best interest to visit first. Better to shell out $1000 checking the area out than dropping $50000 only to realize you can't survive down there...You may not be able to handle the environment.

    Unhelpful administration: Sometimes the schools don't help you set up clinicals. Some schools make you jump around to different hospitals. Some schools don't listen to student concerns.

    Residencies: EXTREMELY competitive resiencies are very difficult if not nearly impossible to obtain. If that's what you're going for, STAY IN THE US. Competitive residencies can be obtained if you work for it--but be aware that you will have to perform BETTER than a US medical graduate for certain positions.

    Licensure: The Big Three that I mentioned are licensed in all 50 states. Saba is licensed at all except California, I believe. I think going to any other Caribbean school other than the Big Three or Saba is STUPID and a COMPLETE and TOTAL WASTE of YOUR TIME. If you're going to go offshore, at least go to an established institution with proven results. Don't gamble on anything else--this is your life.

    The STIGMA: This is probably the biggest disadvantage. It's the same BS that's given to many DOs. Some arrogant allopathic graduates assume that DOs are "failed premeds" that couldn't make it into a US MD school. They don't even take into consideration that some exceptional students PREFER osteopathic medicine. These same arrogant allopathic graduates assume that FMGs are "failed premeds" that couldn't get in to a US med school. It is very likely that SOME fellow physicians will look down on you. If you have a problem with discrimination and prejudice, foreign medical schools are not for you. But if you can suck up your pride and don't have an ego, you should not eliminate foreign medical schools as an option.

    To you up and coming US medical graduates--you will work with foreign medical students and foreign medical graduates in your clinicals, your residencies, or both. You will see that many of them will exceed your expectations...some may even perform better than you or be the best you ever work with.

    Sorry for the long post. I just want you all to at least know the other side of the coin. Flame me if you wish, but at least consider my points. Do some research before you jump to faulty conclusions and restate what you've heard from others. Yes, we all would prefer to go to our top choice school, probably in the United States, but sometimes people do mistakes. The Caribbean med schools provide an opportunity for students who were not given a chance when they applied to prove themselves and realize their dreams. I hope I've provided helpful information and shed some light on the mysterious world of Caribbean med schools.
     
  14. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    I dont take too much heart in USMLE averages and pass rates at offshore schools. I've heard that they wont let you advance far enough to take the USMLE if you arent capable of passing it, and most of the ones that cant pass it flunk out beore it anyway.

    You dont need to prove that offshore schools are legit. They are. But they are never going to be the first choice of anyone. Granted, time and grade contraints may force someone to go offshore.

    Also, noone is denying that offshore students can become doctors, and great ones at that. I think we all agree on that too.

    I guess the main thing is "caveat emptor"

    Some states are particularly hard to gain licensurein as a FMG, such as CA/TX
    Competitive residencies are hard to get
    High failure rates
    Poor living conditions

    No matter where you go, youll have to work hard to succeed, offshore or not.
     
  15. Adapt

    Adapt 2K Member
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    I don't see why anyone would try the caribbean unless you try DO first. There are so many more advantages to going to a DO school over a caribbean.

    1. You won't have problems getting a liscense to practice in all 50 states while you may have problems at a carib school.

    2. You can stay in the US.

    3. You can do your rotations at basically any hospital in the US while at carib schools you may not.

    4. For residency, the order of ranking goes 1.MD 2.DO 3. FMG, so as a DO you at least have the opportunity of getting into a difficulty specialty. You can always go to a DO residency where only DOs go and there are optho and derm DO residencies.

    5. For all intents and purposes, the stigma of the two is the same. It may be argued that the stigma is a bit less for DOs than carib graduates.

    There are some people who choose DO over MD while I think it's safe to say NO ONE chooses to go to the caribbean unless they were rejected to US med schools.

    Given all these advantages, why is it that some students bypass DO altogether and go straight to carib schools. They are missing out BIG TIME.:confused:
     
  16. Alexander99

    Alexander99 Ghetto Fabulous
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    Good point. I think if you choose to go Caribbean over DO, you're probably obsessed with the title you're getting (MD over DO).
     
  17. Phil Anthropist

    Phil Anthropist SDN Moderator
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    Let me start by saying again that I think DOs are great. I have total respect for them. The DO vs. FMG debate will never end. Take one look at www.valuemd.com and you'll see what I mean. The only big reason that I can think of that some US students choose Caribbean over Osteopathic is that some of these US students want to practice internationally. Some are even foreign born and want to go back to their homelands. GENERALLY speaking, FMG MDs are able to practice more easily in more countries than DOs. However, if you just want to stay in the US, then yes...DO may be a much better option. If you're going DO, congratulations and I wish the best of luck to you!
     
  18. hypersting

    hypersting Senior Member
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    :clap: That was a truly thorough and fantastic post.

    The numbers you posted are approximately correct. Working in health policy, I found that the number of medical school seats in the US are artificially depressed for a number of reasons. First, the US has always been very successful throughout history and taking whatever is good and claiming it as their own. Using the ability to offer improvement in personal lives, the US is able to attract IMGs that have all their expenses for medical training paid by another country, only to produce for society in the US. Notice, the influx is at the level of graduate medical education, not medical school, so the US reaps the rewards without the expense. There's been talk by some countries for having the IMGs that leave repay them tuition or request the country they emigrate to to pay it. Despite how high you think tuition is, it costs more to train a doctor then what is paid in tuition.
    Secondly, the current system allows for qualified premeds (and unqualified ones) to have a 2nd chance. "You didn't work hard enough (or whatever) in undergrad? Ok, work hard now and you can come back" I personally don't agree with this tier system because as many as 25+% of IMGs are US citizens, creating the ability to "horde" the premium residencies for those in the "old boys club." As a result, they can use IMGs to work in the urban/rural areas. Since American graduates don't want to go there, creating a geographical imbalance in physicians. Some work on this has been done at Dartmouth. They have a mapping project that projects physician coverage (for pediatrics). In any case, there's not many MD schools opening up so thats the way its going to be. Maybe DO schools will pick up the slack.
     
  19. Adapt

    Adapt 2K Member
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    Pretty much.

    Phil Antropist, as far as going abroad, there is a list of countries where DOs have full practice rights in the pre-DO section and there are a lot (somewhere around 40). However, it is true that you may have a better shot at a carib school.

    If you want to practice in the US, DO appears to be the clear choice. :)
     
  20. OnMyWayThere

    OnMyWayThere OMS-III
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    Uhhmmm because they want to be MDs. Let's not make this another stupid DO/MD thread. People have goals and they do what they need to do to get there. That must be respected. :thumbup:
     
  21. Adapt

    Adapt 2K Member
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    I was just merely pointing out the DO advantage. If people want to make major sacrifices and be at a slight disadvantage for residency just for that MD, more power to them. :smuggrin:
     
  22. mr.pink

    mr.pink Charlie Hustle
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    You do understand that you will be at a disadvantage for residency by going to DO school over Drexel or Temple, don't you?
     
  23. Adapt

    Adapt 2K Member
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    Not if I get an FP or IM residency in southern CA. I figure I can go to COMP, do my rotations at the UCLA, UCI, and Loma Linda Medical Centers as well as other southern CA hospitals and I will be in a good position to get a residency somewhere in the area.

    Perhaps, better than if I went to Drexel or Temple because I would have auditioned in the CA area.
     
  24. mr.pink

    mr.pink Charlie Hustle
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    Though I'm unsure as to how someone can already be so certain of the field they will pursue (FP and IM are vastly different in many respects), you seem to be confident this is right for you. best of luck.
     
  25. HooahDOc

    Physician 15+ Year Member

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    I think DOs have a better shot at most residencies than Caribbean MDs, and it will only improve as time goes on. I have met/seen many DOs in surgery and other tradtionally "allopathic" specialties.
     
  26. NDESTRUKT

    NDESTRUKT Fadeproof
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    good stuff here...

    i think that doing DO is way better than FMG as well. if someone wants to practice medicine internationally and are from another country, why not just go to med school in that other country, or even another foreign med school? it's not too difficult to get into med school in israel or south america...why the caribbean? i might be misinformed but maybe someone can provide insight on that. i feel that the caribbean is geared towards US citizens mostly.

    someone also mentioned doctors from india. india has good med schools, as does france and the uk. i would also think that other european countries such as germany and spain have good schools.
     
  27. Leukocyte

    Leukocyte Senior Member
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    ) Ross/SGU are modeled on the American system of medical education. Geared towards the USMLE.

    2) Your clinical rotations (ms-3, ms-4) are done at US teaching hospitals. Chances to get great LOR from US MDs. Makes you more familiar with the US heath care system.
     
  28. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Stick with SGU and you won't go wrong. They have good clinical rotations (all green book), licensing in all 50 states, an excellent USMLE pass rate (about 90%!) and a good match list. Plus with all the graduates already practicing in the United States (3000 or so) you will have plenty of company.

    ;)
     

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