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General questions on Carribean Medical Schools

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radon222

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I am interested in learning more about the Caribbean Medical Schools so that I can properly advise my students (Just in case you are wondering, I am not going to medical school) so please do not bash me for my questions as I am really just trying to learn.
1.. .I have been reading a lot of the Big 4. What makes the Big 4 the Big 4? I assume they are the most credible ones but who decides that?
2.. .What is an estimated total cost to graduate from one of the big 4?
3.. .How are the living arrangements at most Caribbean schools? I have been told that you rarely stay on campus and instead rent rooms from locals.
4.. .How is the quality of teachers generally speaking? Is it true that most are from India or Europe and/or not MDs?
5.. .It is my understanding that matching for a competitive residency is extremely difficult to do. Is this true?
6.. .I have been told that a lot of students do not match for a residency even after completing school. If so, what do these students end up doing?
7.. .Is it true that students transfer from the big 4 to lesser Caribbean medical schools? And also from not big 4 to another not big 4?
8.. .Is it generally accepted that US MD>US DO>Caribbean MD?
9.. .Finally, is the general impression that the Caribbean medical schools do not care about their students, but instead care about $$$. Maybe that is extreme wording so is it more accurate to say that when it comes to helping students out, the schools look at finances first?
Thanks so much!
Radon222
 

Ariee

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Radon222,
Thanks for inquiring. I am going to get back to you on these questions specifically later. I'm pressed on time right now, but for the time being, go to each schools website and give them a call as well, speak to them directly to get your answers. I will reply tomorrow if I can with answers.
:) A
 

JonathanMD

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I am interested in learning more about the Caribbean Medical Schools so that I can properly advise my students (Just in case you are wondering, I am not going to medical school) so please do not bash me for my questions as I am really just trying to learn.
1.I have been reading a lot of the Big 4. What makes the Big 4 the Big 4? I assume they are the most credible ones but who decides that?
2.What is an estimated total cost to graduate from one of the big 4?

I'll give it a shot. Anyone else, feel free to correct me.

1) Only graduates of the Big 4 schools are able to practice medicine in all 50 states. While the toughest states to get approval from are: NY, NJ, CA, and FL, many other states (17 at last count?) follow the "Cali list." SGU, Ross, and AUC also have been around the longest (30+ years) and in that time have built up reputations among the medical community and large alumni networks. Students who go to these 3 schools can apply for federal loans. Saba has only been recently been approved for CA (4-5 years ago?). This is why SGU, Ross, and AUC are sometimes referred to as the Big 3.

2) Price. I'll talk about Ross only since I'm a 1st semester Ross student. On the website, tuition alone is only $155,000. But I'm paying for everything exclusively through loans. While the school was walking me through the loan process, you get to a calculator to determine how much you should borrow, including rent, living expenses, books, laptop, and everything else. For the 1st semester, this ends up being ~$25,000. I don't think I'm a big spender and I plan to borrow less for the following semesters, but I didn't want to take a chance of running out of money, so I borrowed the recommended amount. And remember, the Ross medical program is 10 semesters long.

I'll finish the rest later. It's a 18 minute walk to campus from my apartment. I have to get to the library for this "Syndicate Falls & Trail" tour. Besides, I have to make friends. I don't think you're going to survive out here on your own. My first day of class is on the 11th.

Contrary to what other non-students may say, I feel completely safe walking around during the day. It's at night that there's no way in hell I'm walking how. Then again, would you really walk alone for a mile in any US city at night?
 

schandan13

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For SGU -

Tuition at SGU is closer to about 190-200K. It IS the most expensive school among the big 3, no doubt, but many of its graduates will tell you that the cost is justified in terms of making the school better (networks, facilities, dorms, clinicals). I got a pretty good scholarship from them so for me, personally, SGU was certainly a more suitable choice.

Some of the teachers are from India/Africa etc with heavy accents. They are qualified though and since lectures are available through streaming, you can watch it at your own pace and make head n tail of whats being said.

Matching in competitive specialties is more difficult for non US grads. It has been done in the past, but with the health care reforms and increase in US MD/DO enrollments, this may not a future trend. There would be occasional exceptions though.

Alot of students coming to SGU sometimes go back to their home countries to practice. So they may not be sitting for US residency placements. I myself would like to know what people do if they DON'T get a residency. Such cases are often not reported so one can't say with surety if they end up being janitors/cab drivers or something. The debt will have to be paid off one way or the other !

Yes, students do transfer out of the big 3 to lesser known caribbean med schools. But SGU does not accept transfers from other schools. Also if you fail a class, you decel, and are required to take the class again. You don't pay the entire tuition again, just the administrative fee (~4000$ i think). Also SGU has many review sessions, the DES and the AEP program which provide you with outside help. You look good, they look good.

SGU makes it mandatory for 1st termers to stay on campus (except if you bring a pet or are with a family). You enter a "housing lottery" system for the subsequent terms and from what i've read, if you apply with your roommates, you increase your chances of getting a spot. Housing doesn't want to be matching roommates beyond term 1 it seems, which is somewhat justified (class sizes are big). In general, though, the campus has many dorms in all forms...doubles, triples, 5 to a suite, 6 to a suite etc.

Yes it is very much US MD>=US DO>>Carib MD. BUT this is in terms of how residency PDs will look at a prospective. Many allo programs don't take osteopaths, many don't take non US grads. So one would make life easier by going DO over carib.

You should check schools for their attrition rates to see if they care more about $$ than academics. The lesser known carib schools probably fail out alot more students than the big 4. But schools that publish their data (PG positions) have nothing to hide and are thus more reliable.
 

RussianJoo

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I am interested in learning more about the Caribbean Medical Schools so that I can properly advise my students (Just in case you are wondering, I am not going to medical school) so please do not bash me for my questions as I am really just trying to learn.
1.. .I have been reading a lot of the Big 4. What makes the Big 4 the Big 4? I assume they are the most credible ones but who decides that?
2.. .What is an estimated total cost to graduate from one of the big 4?
3.. .How are the living arrangements at most Caribbean schools? I have been told that you rarely stay on campus and instead rent rooms from locals.
4.. .How is the quality of teachers generally speaking? Is it true that most are from India or Europe and/or not MDs?
5.. .It is my understanding that matching for a competitive residency is extremely difficult to do. Is this true?
6.. .I have been told that a lot of students do not match for a residency even after completing school. If so, what do these students end up doing?
7.. .Is it true that students transfer from the big 4 to lesser Caribbean medical schools? And also from not big 4 to another not big 4?
8.. .Is it generally accepted that US MD>US DO>Caribbean MD?
9.. .Finally, is the general impression that the Caribbean medical schools do not care about their students, but instead care about $$$. Maybe that is extreme wording so is it more accurate to say that when it comes to helping students out, the schools look at finances first?
Thanks so much!
Radon222

I think it's great that a premed adviser is actually doing research on Carib schools as opposed to just brushing them off and telling their students not to go there. What undergrad school do you work with?

here are the answers to your q's.

1) big 4 like said above, are big 4 because graduates of those schools can practice in all 50 states of the US without any restrictions. Other carib schools can't. Thus they're considered the most credible

2) cost ranges, the least known of the big 4 is SABA school of medicine and it's least known because it's the youngest and has the smallest classes, it's also the cheapest, to check actual tuition cost i recommend going to their website. The oldest school with the most grad practicing in the US and the best reputation is SGU, that's why it's also the most expensive at about $50K per year. The other 2 ( Ross and AUC) fall somewhere between those in cost and reputation.

3) Not sure about most of these but SGU has enough dorms to live on campus the entire 2 years on the island, the others schools also have a good amount of dorm rooms, however, many students choose to live off campus because they like to get away from school and life a more comfortable life style. So this is all mostly based on student preference. at least at SGU.

4) At SGU the teachers vary, some a great some just read off the power points, but overall they love to teach and it shows. The profs mostly are Canadian, or from the United Kingdom. Some are from India, some from the US, many especially in the second year are SGU grads who practice in the field that they lecture on. There have been some world famous profs teaching at SGU and many have either written chapters or whole books on their subjects. All the profs are either PhD's or MD's, many are visiting profs and spend most of their time teaching at medical schools in the US, Canada and the UK. all the Teacher Assistants, are MD's from either India or Africa or the Middle East who are trying to get a residency in the US. but they mostly act as tutors and not the main educators. Not sure how it is at other big 4 schools.

5) to match into a competitve residency is very difficult no matter if you're an American medical grad or a carib grad, however, it's much more difficult as a carib grad, many top notch residency programs will simply filter out caribbean applications.

6) at SGU about 75% match into a residency, another small percent(10-15%) find a residency outside the match either because they did a rotation at that program and the program director offered them a spot or because they did well on the interview. So most get a residency, however, some might have to settle for a profession that at first didn't interest them but because they couldn't get a residency in their profession of choice had to do this one. I have no clue what the ones that don't match end up doing, i am sure they keep trying or do research and try to make connections anyway they can.

7) Yes students who are dismissed from the big 4 due to failing grades or unprofessional conduct usually transfer to a non-big 4 carib school so that they can continue their education and be able to pay off the huge debt they acquired. for the same reason students transfer from one non-big 4 school to another. Some who transfer also have personal reasons for transferring, but the majority transfer because they have to.

8) yes that's how the hierarchy works.

9) these schools are for profit. however, i don't know about other schools but SGU, deeply cares about the success of their students. There were unsafe conditions at one of the islands where SGU held one semester, and because of that the school shut down their operations on that island mid semester and moved everyone who wanted to move back to Grenada, all at no charge to the students. The school also has many free services set up, the deans of students are always available to talk to the students without an appointment, there are psychiatrists and psychologists on campus so that you can talk to them about anything, there is of course a medical clinic on campus with EMS services, there's student support office which goes over note taking techniques and studying strategies for those students that have a tough time focusing. also there are weekly review sessions held by profs and TA's and of course you can email, or stop by the profs office during their office hours. During the clinical years in the US The hospitals have a student coordinator who schedules rotations for you and gives advice about rotations, she also organizes a lot of the paper work that will be required for residency applications. So there's a lot of support at SGU and the school wants their students to succeed, the hardest part is asking for help, the school will rarely reach out to you but if you reach out to the school you'll get all the help and assistance you need. This is also a main reason why SGU is the most expensive of the schools. I am sure the other schools have some kind of similar system in place but from talking to Ross students it's no where as good as the system at SGU.


Also you should check out www.valuemd.com for more info about carib schools. and lastly if you contact the schools they'll be more than happy to provide you with as much info about their school as you'd like and some will even offer you a free trip to visit the school and the island.
 

JonathanMD

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3.How are the living arrangements at most Caribbean schools? I have been told that you rarely stay on campus and instead rent rooms from locals.
4.How is the quality of teachers generally speaking? Is it true that most are from India or Europe and/or not MDs?
5.It is my understanding that matching for a competitive residency is extremely difficult to do. Is this true?
6.I have been told that a lot of students do not match for a residency even after completing school. If so, what do these students end up doing?
7.Is it true that students transfer from the big 4 to lesser Caribbean medical schools? And also from not big 4 to another not big 4?
8.Is it generally accepted that US MD>US DO>Caribbean MD?
9.Finally, is the general impression that the Caribbean medical schools do not care about their students, but instead care about $$$. Maybe that is extreme wording so is it more accurate to say that when it comes to helping students out, the schools look at finances first?
Thanks so much!
Radon222

3) Before this semester, new students were able to stay at Ross University Housing (RUH) for a few days while they go apartment shopping. They got rid of this and this caused some major headaches for a lot of students, especially since the Ross apartment database (where you look for an apartment, contact the landlord, sign the lease, and send the money) was a complete mess. Houses were listed as available when they really were not. Of course, the people who searched for apartments very early had no problems. It was all the late comers that had all the headaches.

4) Don't know yet.

5) Yes. Looking at the 2009 Ross match list, it's mostly what you'd expect:
http://www.rossu.edu/medical-school/documents/2009ResidencyList.pdf

Mostly Primary Care. Some Anesthesiology, EM, Neurology, Psych, Gen. Surgery, OB/GYN, Path, Pediatrics, and Radiology. So you won't see any Dermatology (I think SGU had 1 derm match last year), but people still get into semi-competitive residencies.

6) From what I understand, almost all do match. Only the people who don't apply to enough residency programs fail to match. Again, I don't know this from first hand experience.

7) The only reason I've heard of people ending up in lesser schools is because they failed out. Some other schools are very friendly to these students and accept them on a regular basis. Not sure why anyone would want to transfer out.

8) Yes.

9) So far, my experience has been very good. We'll see.
 

radon222

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Thanks so much for the responses! I am not an undergraduate adviser but work for a test prep company. My students are always asking me questions because their pre-med advisers aren't the best. I am very familiar with US schools but didn't know much about the Carribean schools.

Many of you suggested I call the schools directly which I did. Lots of them were not honest with their answers hence I wanted to post here.

I do have another question though....

If you went to a non big 4 school, how do you find out states you do rotations in or a residency at? I couldn't find it on their websites (I looked at Windsor)
 

howelljolly

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Thanks so much for the responses! I am not an undergraduate adviser but work for a test prep company. My students are always asking me questions because their pre-med advisers aren't the best. I am very familiar with US schools but didn't know much about the Carribean schools.

Many of you suggested I call the schools directly which I did. Lots of them were not honest with their answers hence I wanted to post here.

I do have another question though....

If you went to a non big 4 school, how do you find out states you do rotations in or a residency at? I couldn't find it on their websites (I looked at Windsor)

It might require working backwards from the state. The lists change sometimes. Some people who are in the system now might have more info.

Rotations - you'd have to ask directly.... ask them which hospitals they have a contract with. Of note, there's t
 
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RussianJoo

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do you mean which states approve your medical school? i.e. will allow you to be licensed to work as a physician in that state? each state has thier own rules for the most part and you have to go to that states' Medical Licensing website to find out if your particular school is on their approved list or not. also each state has it's own requirements as to the type of clinical rotations you do and where you do them. Some will require you to do all your rotations at affiliated hospitals others won't care. all of this can be found on the individual states' medical licensing website.
 

howelljolly

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Thanks so much for the responses! I am not an undergraduate adviser but work for a test prep company. My students are always asking me questions because their pre-med advisers aren't the best. I am very familiar with US schools but didn't know much about the Carribean schools.

Many of you suggested I call the schools directly which I did. Lots of them were not honest with their answers hence I wanted to post here.

I do have another question though....

If you went to a non big 4 school, how do you find out states you do rotations in or a residency at? I couldn't find it on their websites (I looked at Windsor)

It might require working backwards from the state. The lists change sometimes. Some people who are in the system now might have more info.

Rotations - you'd have to ask directly... ask them which hospitals they have a contract with. Of note, there's the "New York List" of schools which are permitted to do all their rotations in NY. Some other states in the east follow this list. That's not to say that these schools have their rotations in NY, only that they CAN. Most schools will have a mix of places over the US, with common concentrations in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and probably some other major cities.

Residency - there's what is called the "California List" of schools which are allowed to do residency in CA. A bunch of other states, including Alaska and MA follow the same list. Some states follow the NY List... just because. Some states have their own list.

Also where you do rotations affects which states you can get residency in. Rotations can be done at "Greenbook", or "Bluebook" sites. Greenbook means that the teaching hospital has an ACGME certification to teach THAT PARTICULAR rotation. Bluebook means that the teaching hospital has an ACGME certification to train Family Practice residents. By the nature of the Family Practice residency certification, ALL clinical services have been evaluated to a certain standard. Anyway, Greenbook rotations are at a premium, and schools may not provide them. Bluebook rotations are more available in the schools. Some schools may offer rotations which are neither of these, and should be avoided.

This green/blue thing is more of an issue with the non-big4 schools, because of availability of seats. Students who know the rules of the states in which they want to work may register for green or blue, as needed. While it makes sense to register for only Greenbook rotations, this usually comes with being placed on a waitlist for months, having to move to another city, and other issues. Students have to balance eventual state licensure requirements with immediate money and time constraints. This requires the student to become a bit of a psychic and a lawyer as well.

Annnnyway... Some states require all greenbook rotations, some are satisfied with all bluebook. Some require greenbook for 3rd year rotations, and either-or for 4th year.

The rules for state licensure are similar to the rules for residency. There are some variations, as well as some ways to transfer a license between states.

So, it's actually quite complicated. Each of the non-big4 schools can lead to residency and licensing in 30-45 or so states, depending on which "lists" they do or dont appear on, and which rotation sites they have contracts with.

Hope that helps.
 
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Ariee

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Thanks RJ, HJ, JMD, great responses y'all!

Also, I just wanted to add I was a CDN going to the Carib and wished I had applied to US MD schools before having gone to the Carib. But in general, my experience was a great one. As a Carib, IMHO, I think we need to work harder, higher Step scores, t's crossed and i's dotted, better work discipline & excel on rotations, but it's well worth it & that work ethic is carried forward with you. At my IM interviews, I had one PD tell me that I'm a very competetive applicant and another say that he is honored to meet me, my point being, if you work hard, you will get that respect. There is nothing more satisfying, than when the PD calls you at your #1 program to tell you, that he does not typically offer positions outside the match, but would like you to sign on. Would I go to Carib again? Yes (it's not so bad now that I'm on this side with a contract signed @ my #1), but only after I'd applied to US MD spots and tried at least 1 more time and taken a year out. Got buddies that got in 3 years later. I'll be done my IM residency by then... that is about a $450-600K (at a base rate of 150-200K as a general internist over those 3 years) difference for my personal situation...
 
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schandan13

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Good to see you're doing your research well radon222, and you are being told the truth...

More often than not, students get very varied opinions about caribbean schools. There always will be the good, the bad and the ugly.
 

dragonfly99

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radon,
In my opinion students should be steered away from going to any Caribbean school that won't allow them to practice and do residency in any of the 50 states. I guess there are no absolutes, but in general why would one want to go to a school that isn't acceptable in multiple states? As you found out, several of these schools are unscrupulous and just want to separate students from their (or their parents') money. Many of these people would be much better off if they pursued some other health care career, or just waited another year or two to get into a US school (or at least somewhere like St George or Ross, or go to an Irish med school or something). There's no point in going somewhere and paying for 2-3 years tuition and then failing out, or passing and getting a worthless "MD" if you can't pass the US medical licensing exams (if you can't then you can't get ANY residency in the US at all, in ANY state).
 

Tigerz_Fan

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It might require working backwards from the state. The lists change sometimes. Some people who are in the system now might have more info.

Residency - there's what is called the "California List" of schools which are allowed to do residency in CA. A bunch of other states, including Alaska and MA follow the same list. Some states follow the NY List... just because. Some states have their own list.

The rules for state licensure are similar to the rules for residency. There are some variations, as well as some ways to transfer a license between states.

QUOTE]

Agree that the best way to find information is to work backwards from each state. The lists are in constant flux. However, NY and MA do not follow any list for licensure for residency or for perm license. If you have information otherwise, please post a link.

radon,
In my opinion students should be steered away from going to any Caribbean school that won't allow them to practice and do residency in any of the 50 states. I guess there are no absolutes, but in general why would one want to go to a school that isn't acceptable in multiple states? As you found out, several of these schools are unscrupulous and just want to separate students from their (or their parents') money. Many of these people would be much better off if they pursued some other health care career, or just waited another year or two to get into a US school (or at least somewhere like St George or Ross, or go to an Irish med school or something). There's no point in going somewhere and paying for 2-3 years tuition and then failing out, or passing and getting a worthless "MD" if you can't pass the US medical licensing exams (if you can't then you can't get ANY residency in the US at all, in ANY state).

And completely agree with this. All students contemplating going to a school that is not licensed in all 50 states should be warned to stay away. In addition, with the upcoming residency match "bloodbath" as some have called it (and things are only going to get worse), then students should be warned to use any Carib school only as a last resort.
 

howelljolly

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[

Agree that the best way to find information is to work backwards from each state. The lists are in constant flux. However, NY and MA do not follow any list for licensure for residency or for perm license. If you have information otherwise, please post a link.



And completely agree with this. All students contemplating going to a school that is not licensed in all 50 states should be warned to stay away. In addition, with the upcoming residency match "bloodbath" as some have called it (and things are only going to get worse), then students should be warned to use any Carib school only as a last resort.


Not that it matters, since things keep changing...

NY - for schools which do clinical rotations in the US (read: Caribbean, Poland, Israel...) only schools on the NY list for extended clinical rotations may do residency in NY. For licensure, any rotations done inside NY State must be greenbook. Rotations done outside NY may be blue or green. [no link here, personal communication with DOH and DOE of NY]

MA - adopted the California list around August 2008. A few of the Carib schools found out, and informed their students directly, so that they woudnt apply there for residency.
 

Tigerz_Fan

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Not that it matters, since things keep changing...

NY - for schools which do clinical rotations in the US (read: Caribbean, Poland, Israel...) only schools on the NY list for extended clinical rotations may do residency in NY. For licensure, any rotations done inside NY State must be greenbook. Rotations done outside NY may be blue or green. [no link here, personal communication with DOH and DOE of NY]

MA - adopted the California list around August 2008. A few of the Carib schools found out, and informed their students directly, so that they woudnt apply there for residency.

The greenbook/bluebook issue with NY I was aware of. However, not to argue with you, but I find no evidence on MA's website or Google search that MA follows the CA list. In fact, here are their regulations regarding IMG/FMG applicants, please see section 2.03 of their regulations:

http://www.massmedboard.org/regs/243cmr.htm

If you do know of regulations stating otherwise, and have a link for it, please provide it. I follow the CA list closely, and try very hard to keep the correct information out there. Unfortunately, even though the lists are constantly changing, it does matter to keep information accurate. So many students are out there and can get lost in the mix (I'm referring to students from smaller schools). They may have no guidance from their school, and will take anything they hear to heart and believe it all to be true.
 

smf

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The schools that must deal with the US state board approved lists are those perceived to facilitate entry into US medicine. Other schools clearly in the Caribbean seem to be immune from that BS.

Examples would be (all in dominican republic)

# UASD universidad autonoma santo domingo (oldest school in the western hemisphere

# UNPHU

# PUCCM

# UCE
 

howelljolly

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The schools that must deal with the US state board approved lists are those perceived to facilitate entry into US medicine. Other schools clearly in the Caribbean seem to be immune from that BS.

Examples would be (all in dominican republic)

# UASD universidad autonoma santo domingo (oldest school in the western hemisphere

# UNPHU

# PUCCM

# UCE

I'm not quite sure what you mean, but I think I agree.

There are a number of Carribean schools which are immune to the "Caribbean nonsense". However, as a rule, those are the ones which are REAL Carribean schools, owned and operated by and for the people in the countries/island they are located on. They are an actual local medical school. Not an international business venture.

The "drawback" is that they do their clinical rotations at their own teaching hospitals on the island. Students have to live abroad for another 2 years, and do not get US clinical experience on their CV. I say "drawback" in quotes because a) the first bit is subjective to the student, and b) this is a good thing which actually gets them out of all the BS of Carribean schools. They can practice in any state, and don't have their degree dissected by the State Boards.

You may also have to learn Spanish

And yes, they are all/mostly in the Dominican Republic. We can't go to the one in Cuba, and I think theres one in Trinidad, which doesnt accept US students.
 

uhafeez12

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Hello Everyone.
Ok, here is the deal, I just turned 38. I've worked all my life as a clinical research scientist with major pharmaceutical companies and now own my own clinical research firm (Academy of Clinical Research). I think it is about time I stopped hiring physicians as Principal Investigators to head the research studies and became a doctor myself and "Chief" to the research projects.
Any advice from anyone about applying to Medical Schools in Carribean?

I have been out of Undergard for 15 years (1995- Univ of TX). My major was Biology and currently hold a B.S. Biology/ Psychology.
I did take the MCAT in 1994 also and got about a 26.

Financing for medical school is not an issue. I've done quite well with my clinical research firm to have a pretty good 'nest' to last me a few years.

Any recommendations?
 

RussianJoo

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Hello Everyone.
Ok, here is the deal, I just turned 38. I've worked all my life as a clinical research scientist with major pharmaceutical companies and now own my own clinical research firm (Academy of Clinical Research). I think it is about time I stopped hiring physicians as Principal Investigators to head the research studies and became a doctor myself and "Chief" to the research projects.
Any advice from anyone about applying to Medical Schools in Carribean?

I have been out of Undergard for 15 years (1995- Univ of TX). My major was Biology and currently hold a B.S. Biology/ Psychology.
I did take the MCAT in 1994 also and got about a 26.

Financing for medical school is not an issue. I've done quite well with my clinical research firm to have a pretty good 'nest' to last me a few years.

Any recommendations?

yeah retake the mcats because your current scores expired and apply to medical school. if your undergrad grades were good enough and you made enough connections with the right MD's during your years of hiring them for research projects you might have enough pull to get into a US med school.
 
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