Pursuing MD

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Hello there,

I have applied to SGU med school for Jan. 2003 class; a decision has not been reached whether I have been accepted/rejected.

Meanwhile, I am considering applying to Ross MedSchool for Jan. 2003 also. But before I do apply, I would like to get your feelings about Ross med school and how it compares to SGU med school?

Are the living conditions harsh or manageable? I've heard that the living environment at Ross is very difficult and demanding (for example, some have said that there is no clean water, etc.); is this true?

Also, someone said that if you fail a class at Ross, you have to retake the WHOLE SEMESTER (that is, every class) again & pay tuition fees again; is this true?

I appreciate any advice or suggestions that anyone has to offer...thank you!
 

Skip Intro

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Ross has recently begun implementing some major changes. Among these, they have increased the size of the incoming class. I am currently a 4th semester student (my last on the island). Our class, starting a year ago, was very large at about 255-260 students. We are currently down to about 205, with drop-outs and transfers (both in and out). The class that just started has 315 students!!! There wasn't room for some of them to sit on the first day of class.

Also, Ross has instituted an exit exam for students failing to maintain a 2.90 (or better) GPA by the end of the fourth semester starting with the students this semester. This exit exam is actually the NBME "Comprehensive Shelf" exam. You must get a 64 or better to continue to the fifth semester. If you do not pass this test, whether you are required to take it or choose to take it on your own, you will have to remain in Dominica to take the Basic Medical Sciences Integration (BMSI) course, a ten-week course costing $7000 plus living expenses. You then have to take and pass the "Comprehensive Shelf" again at the end of the BMSI. You are solely responsible for all costs associated with this program. End result is increased loan-burden at the end of your education and longer time spent in the Caribbean (countering one of Ross' previous advantages, namely less time spent abroad).

If you fail a class at Ross, you only have to repeat that course. But, you fall a semester behind. There are electives that are required in order to fulfill the full-time status. Some of these electives require that you give presentations during the Dean's case study and other special circumstances (i.e., you can't "blow them off").

They are in the middle of building a new classroom to accomodate the larger incoming classes. Rumor has it (and there are many rumors at this place, some true... some completely bogus...) is that they will be bringing the "Fifth Semester" back to Dominica. Currently, the fifth semester (a.k.a., Advanced Introduction to Clinical Medicine) is held in clinics in Miami and is the last "pre-clinical" bridging course before students sit for Step I.

Living conditions have been marginal, at best. With the current number of students now flooded onto the campus, they are getting even worse. The school has about an additional 300 students on campus, with the expanded numbers that brings it to about 1100 students now in Dominica studying at Ross, and have not planned accordingly to accomodate the increased need for support resources. Result? Long lines in the computer lab during peak hours, long lines at the "shacks" during lunchtime, and just general congestion everywhere.

Ross is a for-profit education model. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing nor does it suggest that the education is inferior. However, it creates an inherent conflict of interest with the students. In other words... in battles with the administration, the student will likely lose - especially if money is involved.

I would not have come to Ross had these new policies been in place a year ago, and I had known about them before making my decision to attend. I will stand by my belief that Ross will deliver on their promise of making you an M.D. and the education is on par with any medical school, but you will have many more hardships - especially now - if you choose to come here. Fortunately, I only have little over three months before I leave the island. And, think about this: about 100 students just transferred to another Caribbean school after the last semester.

As I've always said, go this route if you are dedicated and know what you are getting yourself into - that holds true for ANY Caribbean school. Don't be discouraged if you want to truly become a doctor and this is perhaps your only option. But, know what you are getting into when you go. Don't be intimidated at your interview. Ask the difficult questions back to the administration. Remember, they want your money. It's better to know what you're getting into in lieu of fearing that you will offend someone during the interview.

-Skip Intro
MS2 Ross University
Portsmouth, Dominica
 
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Pursuing MD

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Hey Skip,

As always, a very informative response. I appreciate it. You seem to agree with lots of Caribbean med students that the living conditions at Ross are subpar and harsh. Living in a 3rd world country is hard enough, I'm sure. I just can't imagine it being worse.

Do you why most of the Ross students transfer to another school? Is it because of the poor conditions or is it b/c of something else? How's housing at Ross? Do you know of Ross' most recent USMLE I passing rate? How's Ross' gym (do they have a good weight-lifting facility)?; I like to work-out. :rolleyes:

Anyways, what are your thoughts on American University of the Caribbean (AUC)? I've heard that they have a far better living environment than most other Caribbean med schools, but I'm not too sure of their USMLE I passing rate and residency placement?

Skip, I've also send you a private message! Thanks again!! :)
 
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Skip Intro

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Originally posted by Pursuing MD
Hey Skip,

As always, a very informative response. I appreciate it.
Thank you. I try to be as truthful and factual as possible, clearly stating when I offer my opinions. I'm not terribly interested, as many know, in recirculating the hearsay of others. It makes me feel good that at least one person openly appreciates that, and I hope other lurkers and/or silent assenters do as well.

Originally posted by Pursuing MD
You seem to agree with lots of Caribbean med students that the living conditions at Ross are subpar and harsh. Living in a 3rd world country is hard enough, I'm sure. I just can't imagine it being worse.
Yes. Dominica is a beautiful, rustic country. There is little else to do besides study. This can be good and it can be bad. I find myself getting more and more stressed and "depressed" (not clinically, future lurking doctors :p) as the semester wears on that I don't have the outlets and creature comforts of home. That is why I have gone home after every break. You do come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next semester. This is not a vacation island. And, anyone coming here thinking so will be sorely disappointed.

Originally posted by Pursuing MD
Do you why most of the Ross students transfer to another school? Is it because of the poor conditions or is it b/c of something else? How's housing at Ross? Do you know of Ross' most recent USMLE I passing rate? How's Ross' gym (do they have a good weight-lifting facility)?; I like to work-out. :rolleyes:
I'm sorry if I gave the impression that "most" of the Ross students transfer. I think the majority of the students who get an admission eventually finish the program here at Ross... but, it's not a great majority (maybe 60%). Ross, for the most part, turns out highly trained and qualified physicians, many of whom get good residencies. The downside is that there is a very competitive "weeding-out" process that occurs after you get your admission. As I've said before, getting an acceptance is one thing; surviving and doing well is another. And, the students that recently transferred out (many of whom I personally knew) did so because, frankly, they were staring at an additional 10 weeks on the island due to the (what I feel was) unfair implementation of this new BMSI program. The absolute tip-top, cream-of-the-crop, straight-A students who crush Step I leave because they get an acceptance to a U.S. school during third year. Others leave (i.e., fail out) because, quite simply, they can't hack the coursework... and should probably have never been here in the first place. Do a lot of homework and soul searching before you make your decision. (But, I think you'd do fine - if you do the work - based on your GPA and MCAT scores that you PM'd me.)

Originally posted by Pursuing MD
Anyways, what are your thoughts on American University of the Caribbean (AUC)? I've heard that they have a far better living environment than most other Caribbean med schools, but I'm not too sure of their USMLE I passing rate and residency placement?
I went on a trip to St. Maarten last semester (during the weekend after the first test). St. Maarten/St. Martin is a beautiful island (the school is on the Dutch side) and has most of the amenities of the rest of the Western world. It's got a huge international airport, great shopping, great restaurants, killer beaches, it's easy to get around, etc. The campus (we went by it) seems much nicer than Ross. However, last semester and this semester we've had several (i.e., roughly 8-10) students transfer from AUC to our program at Ross. Their comments were essentially that they felt that Ross would better prepare them and offer greater opportunities to get the residency they wanted. One girl who transferred in and is now in my class said that she applied to Ross originally but did not get an acceptance. As far as their residency and placements, you'll have to rely on the school to provide that information. I know two other students at Ross who have relatives that went to AUC. One went because he didn't know about Ross at the time he applied to AUC. The other went there because he wanted to live in St. Maarten and not in Dominica or Grenada (both of which have their own special "challenges" as far as living conditions go). Apparently, both have done quite well. So, who's to say which is really "better"? It all depends on the individual.

Originally posted by Pursuing MD
Skip, I've also send you a private message! Thanks again!! :)
Responded. Good luck.

-Skip
 

WowMD

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Hi (Skip Intro), I was just wondering,
1) is it easier to get in during Jan semesters or it really doesn't matter? And even if you get into the SGU, ROSS or wherever in Carib during Jan semester, what happens during the MATCH time? I mean, most US med schools start their med education during Aug and start residency during June/July... Do people who entered during Jan have to stay 1 more year? How does this work?

Thanks in advance!
 

Skip Intro

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Originally posted by WowMD
Hi (Skip Intro), I was just wondering,
1) is it easier to get in during Jan semesters or it really doesn't matter? And even if you get into the SGU, ROSS or wherever in Carib during Jan semester, what happens during the MATCH time? I mean, most US med schools start their med education during Aug and start residency during June/July... Do people who entered during Jan have to stay 1 more year? How does this work?

Thanks in advance!
I'm not sure if it is "easier" per se, but there certainly are more open spots in both the January and May starting classes. Clearly, the September (fall starting) class is the most competitive. But, the school has switched to a new grading system, recommended by the NBME, starting this semester. So, it won't matter what semester you start in anymore (i.e., no one can 'ride the curve' anymore... don't know if you heard that rumor or not). In essence, it will equalize all the classes and there will be no advantage (as there was previously) to starting during a particular term.

As far as the Match goes, this gets a little trickier. The May and September starting classes can go to the Match in the same year. The May starting class will have a little more flexibility in time (i.e., time to take a break or finish the FP clerkship in Miami), but not additional time to take Step I. ALL students must take Step I no later than two months after the fifth semester is completed. So, to dispell another myth about the Caribbean (or, at least Ross), I will have only two months MAXIMUM to take Step I.

The January starting class gets delayed a year (or is a year ahead, depending on how you look at it). You are on a tight schedule if you start in September. There is no paid review course, contrary to popular misconception, in the Miami semester. It is a clinical semester that concentrates on refining the skills learned in fourth semester's Intro to Clinical Medicine program (which I am taking now). So, when that fifth semester ends next March, I will have only until the last week of May to sit for Step I. If I don't take it by then, I might be put on academic drop and at the very least will lose an entire year of Match eligibility.
 
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