stigma

Discussion in 'Caribbean' started by kodyfied, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. kodyfied

    10+ Year Member

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    Hello, I'm currently very interested in applying to Caribbean medical schools, specifically SGU, Ross, and maybe AUC. I've already tried applying to medical schools in the US this year, and of course it's been pretty disappointing. I just had some questions, or perhaps just fears, that I wanted to ask you all. Hopefully I can get some answers that will help clear my mind.

    1) I heard from people that there is a stigma against Caribbean medical school students. I know there must be for all forgein medical students, but I just wanted to know how bad is it. When you go off to the US for the last 2 years in medical school for clinical rotations, do you feel like you're being looked down upon? Are the other medical students from the states friendly to you? I guess I'm just having nightmares where everyone is just smirking at you, once they find out what school you are from.

    2) What fields of medicine are highly blocked from me, if I attend a Caribbean medical school? I hear that dermatology is definitely a residency program that is highly competitive, and that I probably should not be going for that since my chances of getting into one will be low.

    3) Once you're in medical school, does your low undergrad GPA or low MCAT score ever come back to haunt you? When you are applying for residency programs and going to those interviews, does your low STAT's ever come up again? I'm hoping it's all just about your board scores and grades right? Who exactly do you get your LOR's from when you apply for residency programs?

    Thank you!
     
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  3. GoOrganic

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    Along the same line, will anybody care about MCAT scores once you get into med school? Will getting into a residency program be affected by your MCAT scores? at all? Or is it an undeniable part of residency programs?

    Also, I have run into the possibility of going to med school in Montserrat(Atlanta Central University) that does not require any MCAT scores. Initially, it seemed really fishy,but the crazy thing is that I'm still thinking about this place. What do you guys think? I don't care if I get responses like "That sounds like an unreliable school and a crazy idea," as long as there are some insightful pieces of advise. Plz help me out! Thanks!
     
  4. FormerOB

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    Sorry to say... You will on occassion be asked by a patient or their family(as i have): so, where did you go to medical school? There is nothing better than to tell those people, "i went to medical school at (insert top 25 u.s.med school)" - that'll shut them up REAL fast.

    When I socially meet another doctor, and he or she seems personable enough, and the issue comes up: so where did you do your training? and, honestly, when i hear St. Georges, or Ross, etc., my heart sinks, b/c deep down, i think, well, this person wasn't good enough to study in the states, what was wrong with this person?... and MOST other u.s. trained doctors feel the same way. that is the honest truth. are you equally competent? probably yes... but in our society, the name brand means ALOT. can you land a residency at hopkins? harvard? not impossible, but HIGHLY unlikely(especially in a competitive specialty).

    if you have the opportunity, or the mental fortitude, to attend a u.s school, try, try, try, and then try again. forget these schools interested in your money only. when you are accepted to say, "spartan" or "st. matthews", look deep into your soul, and ask :hungover:o i really deserve to become an M.D.?"

    the answer should be clear...
     
  5. awdc

    awdc Senior Member
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    I've rotated with students from SUNY Downstate, Mount Sinai, UMDNJ-New Jersey, NYCOM, U. of Miami, PCOM, LECOM and I've never felt like I was looked down upon. If they have looked down on me without me knowing, I'm pretty sure I earned their respect soon enough when they get a feel for my fund of knowledge and work ethic. Whether other students are friendly to you or not has more to do with your personality and work ethic.

    Aside from dermatology, your chances will be very low for orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, otolaryngology, and ophthalmology. Radiology is very tough as well but enough Ross grads in the past years have matched so that your chances is probably better than the above. General Surgery, Emergency Medicine, and Anesthesiology are possibilities if you do well. Am I missing anything else? Maybe.

    No one will know about your undergrad gpa or MCAT unless you tell them. There may be a couple residency programs that are "weird" and want to know but 99.9% won't care. LOR's come from attendings/faculty in rotations that you've done.

    You're welcome.
     
  6. IFNgamma

    IFNgamma Junior Member
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    hello, I went to a caribbean school and just recently graduated and I'd have to say I my experience was positive overall. I'll try to answer your Qs according to my own experience.

    1) when you do rotations in the US, you will mostly likely do it at a hospital full of students just like you. Your school has affiliated hospitals where you can do your rotations. I rotated at a hospital where basically everyone was a caribbean student, who went to SGU, Ross, AUC. The only interaction I had w/ US med students was when I went on interviews, and it wasn't bad, I got along fine w/ them, I can't read their mind, and they probably did look down on me, but who cares, they are not the ones who decide whether you get a residency spot or not.

    2) I'd say the super-competitive residency that are usually off limits to a Caribbean grad are orthopedics, urology, ENT, plastics, dermatology, and ophthalmology. These are the specialties were even US grads have trouble matching in. And I say usually because there are exceptions, at least 1 or 2 people from a class will land a spot in those fields, for example, 2 people got ortho in my class this year. How they do it, I have no idea or I would get a spot for myself.

    3) I'd say undergrad GPA & MCAT does not matter unless you're going for the specialties I mentioned above. The only way it has come up is when during several interviews the interviewer would ask why you went to a caribbean school and I would tell him/her that my GPA sucked. Yes, your USMLE scores are what matter, especially Step 1. LORs are important too, and you get them from the attendings you work w/ at the hospitals where you rotate; try to get ones that have nothing but good things to say and get them from the program director or dept. chair if possible.

    The bottom line is, unless you want the super-competitive residencies, going to a Caribbean school can get you what you want, provided you work hard and do well for yourself.

    good luck!


     
  7. fragilex

    fragilex Hermit in the Dark
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    For the most part I'm just going to echo what IFNgamma has said since I did rotations at the same hospital as him. However, I will retell one story that an old AUC grad told me. He was one of the first grads back in like 80s when AUC (or most caribbean medical schools) were not very well known. They had a real stigma, where people would joke about them storing cadavers in the cafeteria and stuff like that. He did his 3rd and 4th years in Maryland (I think) and was one of the first Caribbean students to rotate around there. He told me that people would always ask what school he was from and he was always up front about it telling them he went to a Caribbean school. Most of the time, his US Medical School counterparts would kind of scoff at him and explain that they went to XYZ School of Awesome or whatever. He would simply reply, "Wow, that's great, but I guess we ended up at the same place for clinicals huh?" He went on to be a general surgeon and I think he heads a private practice now. Basically, do what you can with the opportunity you've been given and don't ever let anyone look down on you, not even you.

    I agree with IFNgamma's 2 and 3.

    I guess I'm different from FormerOB. Whenever I see my physician I've never asked him where he did his training. Also, aren't the majority of practicing primary care physicians foreign graduates? This trend doesn't appear to be changing either since aren't most of primary care residencies filled with foreign graduates? I don't have the statistics, but I think I am correct. Either way, I guess I'm saved from this "embarrassment" since patients don't really talk to a radiologist.

    I guess when doctors like FormerOB meet up with me and I tell them I went to a caribbean school they'll try to look down at me, I'm ok with that. I know I worked hard to get where I am and obtain the residency I wanted. I'm not sure about the "mental fortitude" comment though, seems like a cheap shot if you ask me. Are you telling me that the Physics and Organic Chemistry you learned in college made you a better doctor? It is true that MCAT scores correlate to USMLE scores. However, I would bet neither of those scores correlate to "how good" a physician you are.

    In addition, the "Do I really deserve to be an MD?" with the implication that Caribbean students do not is a pretty cheap shot too. Do you think a 30 MCAT and 3.5 GPA entitles you to the suffix of M and D? So Mr. 29 and 3.49 is not worthy? In my opinion, a person "worthy" of being an MD is the one who earns it: gets into residency and practices medicine. The degree itself is meaningless, it's just two letters behind your name. Your training and ability will determine whether you are worthy, not two sets of numbers you got in college. Being a doctor is a privilege, not a right.

    Sorry for the rant. I really believe people should try to go to a US Medical School and should do what they believe is necessary to get in. However, a Caribbean school is a good alternative for those with the aspiration, determination, and ability to become good doctors. Like I've said in my previous post, there is a good amount of anti-Caribbean sentiment on this board which is why I hardly post. I think awdc and IFNgamma ignored his post on purpose, I guess I probably should have done the same.

    -fragilex
     
  8. microphage

    microphage Useless Member
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    ditto to above rant. :thumbup:
     
  9. Pathlesstrvld

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    So you mean the thousands of Caribbean graduates who have become physicians in the US should look you up and apologize, because maybe they don’t deserve the MD in the first place. Have you looked into your soul and asked if you deserve to be an MD?

    But if by default you are excused from justifying your "fortitude" or place in medicine because you made it through the bureaucracy of the US medical school admission process, then even more so a "US reject" who actually proves the fallibility of the system by successfully jumping through every hoop imaginable, should earn the professional right to be your peer and colleague.

    After all, if many of the US graduates, who are the product of quotas and affirmative action, aren’t making any excuses, then why should anyone from the Caribbean.
     
  10. Shah_Patel_PT

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    It will be really interesting when you learn that your attendings and PDs are former caribbean grads as well.

    Your heart may sink when you hear your colleagues went to a caribbean school....but I know for a fact that is not true with all US grads (many of whom are my friends from college). It seems you are from a small community hospital in a small town, with very little diversity. If you come to places like NY and chicago....you will see US MD, DOs and Caribbean students doing their clerkships side by side with each other.

    Your RESIDENCY training is much more important in your future career sucess, not what medical school you came from (except top 15 US MD school). Once you get your residency.....forgot the name of your caribbean school......
     

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