A

Acheron

Hello everyone!

I recently earned my BS in Biology.

I have a predicament on my hands. I have been accepted into the Master of Public Health program at the University of Texas -- Health Science Center at Houston for the Spring 2010. I planned on getting my MD as well but down the line because I wasn't up for the workload and my undergraduate GPA was in need of improvement (additionally I haven't yet taken some of the recommended courses for med school; biochemistry, histology and immunology).

I've started to give medical school a lot of thought and I am up to the challenge. Knowing that I don't stand much of a chance at the US schools I am strongly considering a Caribbean program.

Ultimately, my goal is to work in the health field whether for the prevention or diagnosis and treatment, I hope to do both.

Right now (and I know my opinion can change after clinical rotations) I would want to pursue a residency in Emergency Medicine.

The two Caribbean programs that I'm giving the most thought are St. George and Ross, because as I understand it, every state in the US recognizes their degree which would essentially allow me to practice medicine in any state of my choosing.

I would be greatly appreciative if the users on this forum would share their personal experiences with Caribbean Medical Schools (particularly Ross and SGU). And more importantly their experience when it comes to matching for residencies in the US.

I guess what I am most concerned with is if I graduate from SGU and pass the USMLE will I absolutely get into a residency program in the United States? I know Caribbean Med School is somewhat frowned upon in the states but besides a few pompous posters on this forum I have yet to find something on google that strongly discredits them. Of course I've read about the schools that admit 10,000 students, give them a list of textbooks and tell them to get learning. But it is my understanding the Ross, SGU, AUC, and Saba are all VERY good teaching schools.

Should I just attend Texas for my MPH or should I pursue a medical degree in the Caribbean? I've really got the itch to just go for my MD.
 

Aphtalyfe

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Hello everyone!

I recently earned my BS in Biology.

I have a predicament on my hands. I have been accepted into the Master of Public Health program at the University of Texas -- Health Science Center at Houston for the Spring 2010. I planned on getting my MD as well but down the line because I wasn't up for the workload and my undergraduate GPA was in need of improvement (additionally I haven't yet taken some of the recommended courses for med school; biochemistry, histology and immunology).

I've started to give medical school a lot of thought and I am up to the challenge. Knowing that I don't stand much of a chance at the US schools I am strongly considering a Caribbean program.

Ultimately, my goal is to work in the health field whether for the prevention or diagnosis and treatment, I hope to do both.

Right now (and I know my opinion can change after clinical rotations) I would want to pursue a residency in Emergency Medicine.

The two Caribbean programs that I'm giving the most thought are St. George and Ross, because as I understand it, every state in the US recognizes their degree which would essentially allow me to practice medicine in any state of my choosing.

I would be greatly appreciative if the users on this forum would share their personal experiences with Caribbean Medical Schools (particularly Ross and SGU). And more importantly their experience when it comes to matching for residencies in the US.

I guess what I am most concerned with is if I graduate from SGU and pass the USMLE will I absolutely get into a residency program in the United States? I know Caribbean Med School is somewhat frowned upon in the states but besides a few pompous posters on this forum I have yet to find something on google that strongly discredits them. Of course I've read about the schools that admit 10,000 students, give them a list of textbooks and tell them to get learning. But it is my understanding the Ross, SGU, AUC, and Saba are all VERY good teaching schools.

Should I just attend Texas for my MPH or should I pursue a medical degree in the Caribbean? I've really got the itch to just go for my MD.
SGU, AUC, Ross, and Saba graduates can be licensed in all 50 states.

Match rate (including pre-match and scramble) is over 85% for SGU and AUC. Not sure about Ross or Saba.

I currently attend AUC and I love it here. Weather is great nearly every day, and there is plenty of stuff to do (whenever I have time, which is pretty much never) on the island.

I was accepted to Ross, Saba, and AUC... with an interview offer from SGU that I declined. I chose AUC.

Good luck!
 

Instatewaiter

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Unquestionably, pursue the MPH.

First it will make you more competitive for medical school. Second, only go to the carribean after you have exhausted every option in the US. I mean every option including an SMP. There is a significant stigma coming from the carribean, even from SGU or AUC.

The 85% Match rate does not include the large attrition rates. It also doesn't tell you what the people wanted to match into. Perhaps they wanted surgery but could only get FM.

The match list from SGU is not exactly what one would call impressive when compared to any US school. They tend to have fewer students enter competitive residencies yet graduate 650 students (4x the class size of most US schools yet fewer get competitive spots).

85% match/prematch/scramble rate is also really low. That means that 15% of the class didn't get into residency. Period. Imagine going through 4 years and not being a doctor. That sucks. US schools don't have this problem.

Back to the original question. Even if you do end up going to the carribean, the MPH will make you more competitive for residency and will allow you to have a better shot at matching.
 
OP
A

Acheron

Unquestionably, pursue the MPH.

First it will make you more competitive for medical school. Second, only go to the carribean after you have exhausted every option in the US. I mean every option including an SMP. There is a significant stigma coming from the carribean, even from SGU or AUC.

The 85% Match rate does not include the large attrition rates. It also doesn't tell you what the people wanted to match into. Perhaps they wanted surgery but could only get FM.

The match list from SGU is not exactly what one would call impressive when compared to any US school. They tend to have fewer students enter competitive residencies yet graduate 650 students (4x the class size of most US schools yet fewer get competitive spots).

85% match/prematch/scramble rate is also really low. That means that 15% of the class didn't get into residency. Period. Imagine going through 4 years and not being a doctor. That sucks. US schools don't have this problem.

Back to the original question. Even if you do end up going to the carribean, the MPH will make you more competitive for residency and will allow you to have a better shot at matching.
Thank you for your insight. I have googled the heck out of Caribbean medical schools over the past few days and have been hard pressed to find people who don't speak highly of SGU, AUC, Ross, and Saba. I think the stigma associated with them exists because there are a ton of other Caribbean schools that admit everyone and don't offer adequate instruction, therefore leading to high failure rates.

The only drawback I can find is that it is very difficult to enter competitive residencies when coming out of the Caribbean. But considering I want Emergency Medicine, which is moderately competitive, I think I should have a good shot as long as I am dedicated to my studies.

Also, I am starting to think that it isn't so important where you go to Medical School. It is essentially learning all of the sciences like the back of your hand during the first two years and then all of your clinical learning is done in the United States (even for Caribbean students as long as you go to one of the 4 good schools).

One comment on US med schools; I noticed about half of the students in my undergrad class who got accepted into Med School had a parent or parents who were MDs so I think there were some strings pulled. Plus, every year there are thousands of academically qualified applicants at each school for about 200 spots. What is the point of competing with people if you don't know somebody who can help get you an interview and get you into the school? Hundreds if not thousands of qualified candidates get turned away every year because there are not enough spots in the program.
 
OP
A

Acheron

http://www.nrmp.org/data/resultsbystate2009.pdf

Look specifically at the number of USIMG that match into EM. Very, very small number - 67 total.
"very, very small" is a matter of opinion. To mean it means that 5 years from now I have a legitimate chance at being an Emergency Medicine resident.



"A pessimist sees the difficultly in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Churchill
 

tkim

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"very, very small" is a matter of opinion. To mean it means that 5 years from now I have a legitimate chance at being an Emergency Medicine resident.

"A pessimist sees the difficultly in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Churchill
http://www.nrmp.org/data/resultsanddata2009.pdf

'Very, very small' means that only 1.9% of EM positions went to IMGs - and this represents both US and non-US IMG's, so the actual percentage for USIMGs is even smaller. That's not an opinion, that's a number rooted in fact.

If you want to insist that a less than 2% chance of matching to EM coming from a Carib school is a 'legitimate chance', then I wish you luck and keep them blinders on.

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward
 

Instatewaiter

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Thank you for your insight. I have googled the heck out of Caribbean medical schools over the past few days and have been hard pressed to find people who don't speak highly of SGU, AUC, Ross, and Saba. I think the stigma associated with them exists because there are a ton of other Caribbean schools that admit everyone and don't offer adequate instruction, therefore leading to high failure rates.

The only drawback I can find is that it is very difficult to enter competitive residencies when coming out of the Caribbean. But considering I want Emergency Medicine, which is moderately competitive, I think I should have a good shot as long as I am dedicated to my studies.

Also, I am starting to think that it isn't so important where you go to Medical School. It is essentially learning all of the sciences like the back of your hand during the first two years and then all of your clinical learning is done in the United States (even for Caribbean students as long as you go to one of the 4 good schools).

One comment on US med schools; I noticed about half of the students in my undergrad class who got accepted into Med School had a parent or parents who were MDs so I think there were some strings pulled. Plus, every year there are thousands of academically qualified applicants at each school for about 200 spots. What is the point of competing with people if you don't know somebody who can help get you an interview and get you into the school? Hundreds if not thousands of qualified candidates get turned away every year because there are not enough spots in the program.
While you will be much better served at one of the big 4 compared to others in the carribean, don't expect the education, especially the clinical education to be the same as a US school. Being in the US for rotations and having solid rotations are not the same thing. I have talked to residents who went to SGU. They felt their clinical education was no where near the quality of US students. Don't expect it to be.

Even the big 4 have attrition rates that are astronomical when compared to any US school. Most US schools have attrition rates around 2-5%. Even the best Carribean schools border on 30+%.

Every residency has competitive programs. For instance even non-competitive specialties (like internal medicine) have programs that are very, very competitive based on location and the quality of program. While going to the carribean may not keep you from getting EM, it may keep you from ending up where you want to be. I hear the plains of Oklahoma or the back woods of Missouri are nice though- definitely great places to be trained in EM. I mean why would you want a major city... All those emergent situations to deal with...

As to the comment on US schools:
A tiny portion of my class has parents who were MDs- maybe 5%. These people are now toward the top of the class. They were quality applicants on their own. They didn't get in on the shirttails of their parents. A quality applicant won't need strings to be pulled to get an interview. What you do need is a GPA and an MCAT score in the range or some experience that catches the ADCOM's eye.

Perhaps your experience can be explained a different way. Maybe it was not the strings their parents could pull but rather the fact that their parents prepared them for what was needed to get into a US school. These kids knew from the start of college what it took to get into medical school. Or maybe their parents pulled strings. I dont know.

Look, I am not saying that you wont be a doctor or even that you definitely wont get the residency you want going to SGU et al. What I am saying is that your options are limited, your education is not quite the same and you are taking much more risk on than you need to.

The extra year or 2 it takes to improve your app and give the US your all is worth it in the grand scheme of things. Even if you dont get in, you will improve your chances for residency.
 

Aphtalyfe

7+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2009
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Unquestionably, pursue the MPH.

First it will make you more competitive for medical school. Second, only go to the carribean after you have exhausted every option in the US. I mean every option including an SMP. There is a significant stigma coming from the carribean, even from SGU or AUC.

The 85% Match rate does not include the large attrition rates. It also doesn't tell you what the people wanted to match into. Perhaps they wanted surgery but could only get FM.

The match list from SGU is not exactly what one would call impressive when compared to any US school. They tend to have fewer students enter competitive residencies yet graduate 650 students (4x the class size of most US schools yet fewer get competitive spots).

85% match/prematch/scramble rate is also really low. That means that 15% of the class didn't get into residency. Period. Imagine going through 4 years and not being a doctor. That sucks. US schools don't have this problem.

Back to the original question. Even if you do end up going to the carribean, the MPH will make you more competitive for residency and will allow you to have a better shot at matching.
It means that 15% of the class didn't get into a residency THAT match for THAT year. People that match the following years + the people who didn't report their matches I would guess its over 90%. (US schools are 95%+)

I've never heard of a person coming from SGU, AUC, Ross, Saba passing Step 1, and 2, and NOT ever matching. Maybe it happens, but I've never heard of it.

The attrition at Ross should not be applied to the other schools. Ross has an attrition of over 50% for most entering classes.

For Saba/SGU/AUC I would say its under 25%. (Still high... but then we get into discussion about the caliber of the average entering student in the Caribbean)

Regarding EM matching... we had 8 match in 2009 that reported. Out of... 200? Too lazy to add up the total matches. That's not TOO bad... still not as good as a US school though.

Having said all that... If you're trying to pursue an ultra competitive residency... then yes. You should do EVERYTHING in your power to attend a US school. (optho, derm, plastic, ortho, rad, rad onc...etc)