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What are the disadvantages of the Top Caribbean Schools?

Discussion in 'Caribbean' started by joshto, Sep 20, 2008.

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  1. joshto

    joshto Nervous&Neurotic 10+ Year Member

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    I've read some of the other posts on this issue, but they're several years old, and I' sure things have changed. What are the current disadvantages of attending a top Caribbean school? I ask because I might be interested in applying to SGU but before I apply I want to know what I may be getting myself into. I know that the quality of the education/facilities may not be as high as domestic schools. At what point is everyone on the same level playing field (i.e. when will the school you went to become irrelevant whether your from Hopkins or SGU), is it after the USMLEs? Once I complete rotations at SGU in year 3 and 4, will the school name affect where I can match or is that just a measure of USMLEs?

    Any clarification is appreciated. It's a big decision and I want to know as much as I can on the issue in order to make an educated choice.
     
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  3. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    The medical school you attend will definitely strongly affect the residency you match in to. Regardless of the quality of the education, there are many residency programs that look down on Caribbean medical schools. This might in part be just unfounded bias, but it's also based on their past experience with some Caribbean graduates (who for the most part wouldn't have been as well educated as the ones from St George's), the fact that many people who go down there are there because they couldn't score well enough on the MCAT (if they are US students), and the fact that Caribbean schools aren't accredited by the same folks who inspect and accredit all the US MD medical schools. A high USMLE score will not make residency programs disregard where you went to medical school. Also, be aware that many US hospitals like to pick residents from certain medical schools that they are familiar with (i.e. for example, a Chicago-area surgery residency director may know what grades of "high pass" vs. "honors" from schools like U of Illinois or Rush or U of Chicago signify and how a student from there are likely to perform in his residency). Residency program directors also may know faculty at other medical schools and a letter from someone they know may carry a lot of weight. These are just some of the reasons that going to the US vs. Caribbean matters. I'm not against the Caribbean schools at all costs (actually considered going there at one point) but I wouldn't do it just out of general frustration or before trying to get in to a US school.
     
  4. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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    Well said. I would also add that moving to another country and adjusting to the culture can be a big shock for many people.

    One thing I miss down here (Grenada) is a 24-hour place to get food. There aren't any within reasonable walking distance from campus that I know of.

    I've been told that the stigma goes away once you start residency - once people see that you have the skills required to be a good doctor they don't particularly care where you went to school because they've seen doctors of all different qualities from all different schools. One of the reasons I applied to SGU was because I met alumni who were doing the residencies that I was interested in at well-known hospitals. Depending on the program, however, getting to that stage could be a challenge.
     
  5. joshto

    joshto Nervous&Neurotic 10+ Year Member

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    I dont understand why a high USMLE score would not clear the stigma attached to a graduate of SGU (or any other top Caribbean program). If the USMLE content is taught in your 4 years of medical school, and you do well on it, doesn't it suggest that you are well prepared to be a doctor (that is, if the USMLE score is indicative of how good of doctor one will be)? Isn't the whole point of the USMLE to ensure everyone's medical education is comparable to one another?
     
  6. JohnnyRockets

    JohnnyRockets Banned

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    There are a lot of disadvantages of going to a Caribbean school, the first of which Caribbean graduates are not particularly highly regarded by residency directors, there is the issue of high attrition as schools try to weed out students because of limited clinical rotations and also the fact that many people in these schools have no business becoming physicians, there is also the high cost of attending these schools charge high tuition and the cost of living on an island is expensive, there are also lifestyle issues you will be in a third world country with low living standards and an unfamiliar country. Caribbean schools are a last ditch option for those who could not get into US MD and DO programs.
     
  7. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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    It's also for students whose home countries don't recognize DO degrees or grant full practice rights to doctors of osteopathy, which is about 173 out of approximately 195 countries on the face of the earth. I'm not dissing osteopathic schools, but if you don't intend to practice in the United States then they are not always a good option.

    Residency directors - depends where you apply and if the school you're coming from is well known. The general consensus is that it's decreasing, and in some programs where SGU grads have been previously admitted, has been annihilated altogether. It also depends on your recommendations from your clinical years. The better-known Caribbean schools set up rotations within the United States so that you can gain experience alongside your American-trained brethren and get recomendations from US physicians who are more familiar with the norms and practices of the residency system. SGU, for example, has 600 rotation spots in New York, so you would be with students from the NY schools. As to how those medical students view us, I couldn't comment on that.

    Furthermore, graduates have met the qualifications to get licensed in all fifty states.

    If you compare the COA of SGU to private U.S. medical schools, you'll find that there's not much difference, and in some notable cases SGU is significantly cheaper. As for living expenses, that depends on what your personal lifestyle is and what you want to spend your money on. If you went to school in NYC it would be the same situation - eating out all the time or staying in and cooking? Buying a car or taking public transportation?

    As for the allegation that we have no business becoming doctors, I'd take exception to that, but let the Steps do the talking. I did very well on the MCAT and even taught others how to do the same for a year, but I'm down here because I became dysthymic during my college years. We all have stories for why, and the point is that we're putting it behind us and taking advantage of the opportunity that we've been given.

    I hope that helped. It came out a little pro-SGU, but you're right to do research before making a decision.
     
  8. JohnnyRockets

    JohnnyRockets Banned

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    Well for the vast majority of applicants to Caribbean schools, the fact that you cannot practice in many countries is moot. Caribbean schools primary cater to American and Canadian students who could not secure admissions to one of schools in North America and the vast majority are planning to work in either the US or Canada.

    DOs can practice in the US and most Canadians provinces without much issue, and they almost always can get more competitive residencies than IMGs but not as much as their US MD counterparts.

    Practicing medicine in different countries is not easy to accomplish regardless of your degree, different countries have varying systems of licensure, undergraduate and postgraduate education. Cultural and linguistic barriers are sizable as well.
     
  9. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

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    http://www.sgu.edu/about-sgu/recognition-standardssom.html

    Total: 38

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteopathic_physician#International_practice_rights

    Total: 45

    You got a leg up on us for Israel, but we have Sweden. Glaringly missing from both sites are France, Ireland, Spain, and Scotland.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  10. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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  11. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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    I realize that it's probably not a huge concern for the majority of applicants. It was just in case the OP wasn't from the States or Canada.

    I've come to realize though that a lot of education is what you make of the resources that you have available to you where you are. Perhaps that's not profound, but there are good resources and support for students here, and even though we have a large class, every single member is studying their gluteals off in order to come back as competent physicians (well, really competent MS3s since we only spend two years down here). If you come down here, it is not a picnic on the beach (although that's not very far away from campus), and thinking so means that you'll be having a nice conversation with a professor trying to figure out what your issue is, followed by (assuming you don't change) a quicker return than planned.

    We do get good residencies as well. I first learned about SGU from residents who were at Georgetown in D.C. That's why I get a little put off when we get lumped into the same group as a school which accepts everyone just to take money. I'm not denying that they exist, and they should be identified and shut down immediately to stop them preying on students. Perhaps it's pride, I'm not really sure.

    Anyway, I think the OP has moved to VMD.
     
  12. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

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    "Instead of continuing your pissing match, why don't you guys post some links to back up what you're saying, instead of claiming that what you're writing is fact."
     
  13. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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  14. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    joshto
    If you think the only things taught in most US med schools are the factoids that the USMLE tests, you are wrong. Also, passing the USMLE should be pretty easy for anyone who reads and writes English well and has studies with USMLE test prep books and attended any sort of even marginally functioning med school. What you aren't realizing is the tremendous resources that it takes to educate medical students, particularly to get them ready for the clinical years by teaching them to do patient histories and exams, and teaching human anatomy, etc. (hopefully by dissecting cadavers, etc.). Also, most US residencies want someone who can function well in a major university medical center in the US, and if an intern has had marginal clinical rotations at some tiny unknown hospital and may have not gotten good instruction from physicians there, with a structured educational plan during 3rd and 4th year, that intern might not tend to function well. You don't want to start out your intern year "in a hole" in terms of either clinical knowledge or scientific knowledge. The scientific knowledge to pass USMLE Step 1 can be gleaned from books, but the broader scientific knowledge you should have in addition to that, and the clinical skills you will need, will not be taught well at some Caribbean schools. It's definitely a "buyer beware" type of situation. If the promised made and tuition charged seem too good to be true, they probably are. If the school can't produce a COMPREHENSIVE list of where everyone matched the previous 3 years, and what % of students drop out or fail out, be VERY suspicious.
     
  15. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

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    Ah, no.

    Already shown to be wrong. Thanks.

    Just pointing out the irony of your statement: "Instead of continuing your pissing match, why don't you guys post some links to back up what you're saying, instead of claiming that what you're writing is fact."
     
  16. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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    I don't recall repeating my post.

    Ah I see what you did. You went to one of my older posts and quoted. Aren't you a clever one, making me look all hypocritical. That's something I would do! We should get together for a drink or something.
     
  17. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

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    Sounds good. Let me know when you're back in the 'States. Say, summer 2010?
     
  18. digitalising

    digitalising Codename: Amistad 2+ Year Member

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    Sounds good. I'll send you a PM then.
     
  19. Wet Coma

    Wet Coma Doctor D in NYC 7+ Year Member

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    You can go to SGU and make a 99 on step 1 and 2 (which I know many who do that or at least close to that), and still not have a chance at getting a residency in CERTAIN programs. But for the most part, great board scores will atone for the fact that you are a FMG. Not only that, but SGU clinical rotations are the best of any international school (it's pretty much equivalent to US rotations, heck we even rotate with students from US schools). Of course there are exceptions, and there is variability, but in general the education is solid, and is for the most part equivalent to US for first time pass rates for step 1 (we even beat the US average first time USMLE pass rate one year). Im not going to go and fish out the link for you, but its somewhere on the SGU website. And no, SGU does not "weed" out students like some other carib schools. If you can't get into a US school, SGU is the way to go. There are many good residency programs that SGU graduates go into. Whatever you choose, good luck in acheiving your goal.







     
  20. Pathlesstrvld

    Pathlesstrvld 2+ Year Member

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    The same arguments you are reading here, were once presented to undermine the validity of the DO profession back in the 80s and 90s. If you told anyone then, that a DO would one day be considered an equivalent to an MD. You would be either accused of heresy, or shamed into admitting that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. My father, an MD, once told his sister that she was committing professional suicide, as she was going off to NYCOM, back in 95. That was then, the rest is history.

    Therefore the argument that Caribbean docs are somehow less qualified or less respected, is like any other bureaucratic sentiment, simply a logical fallacy. There are literally thousands of great physicians practicing in every state in America who received their education in the Caribbean. These are program directors, chief residents, department heads, professors, ER doctors, surgeons, etc......seek them out and get answers to your questions straight from the source.
     
  21. LaCasta

    LaCasta 7+ Year Member

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  22. Pathlesstrvld

    Pathlesstrvld 2+ Year Member

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    That is exactly either the misconception or propaganda that is propagated about Caribbean medical schools. The clinical skills are taught in ACGME approved US hospitals, by US physicians, in some cases working along side US students. Contrary to what people want to believe, we are not stranded on some Gilligan island for 4 years. Furthermore, I have recently spent 3 months at a hospital on the east coast, which happens to be a popular prelim destination for many US graduates. Some of the schools represented by the interns include NorthWestern, Hopkins, and U. Maryland. If there was ever a more humbling time for these recent grads, or a moment where you literally learn on the job, it was definitely after they left medical school.
     
  23. JohnnyRockets

    JohnnyRockets Banned

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    If you are in the situation where you have between a DO or the Caribbean you have to be crazy not to pick the DO. Its getting harder to get loans for Caribbean schools except for the top 3 that qualify for Stafford and Gradplus. These days because of the bank fiasco many lenders have shut down private loan programs. Also the Stafford loan limit for DO schools is nearly twice that for foreign MDs.
    DOs might have had a stigma in the past but today they are roughly equal to US MDs. Also DOs can practice in Canada and the UK, they are also recognized as full medical physicians by a large number of countries around the world.
     
  24. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    "that is exactly either the misconception or propaganda that is propagated about Caribbean medical schools."
    I never said that ALL Caribbean med schools don't teach well. I am sure St George, and probably a couple of others, are generally comparable to a lot of US schools in their first 2 years, and perhaps for a couple of them (SGU, etc.) in their last 2 years. However, it's hard to deny that there are a LOT of these Caribbean schools that are kind of diploma mills, and/or flunk out huge percentages of their students, or the students can never pass the USMLE, etc. I still maintain it's best to go to school in the US if you want to practice in the US, but going to the Caribbean could be an option for some people. Everyone's situation is different.

    "The clinical skills are taught in ACGME approved US hospitals, by US physicians, in some cases working along side US students. Contrary to what people want to believe, we are not stranded on some Gilligan island for 4 years. Furthermore, I have recently spent 3 months at a hospital on the east coast, which happens to be a popular prelim destination for many US graduates. Some of the schools represented by the interns include NorthWestern, Hopkins, and U. Maryland. "
    Again, I never said that no Caribbean student has decent 3rd year rotations, or that no Caribbean grad can match up with a US student on a hospital rotation. I said that most of the Caribbean schools aren't providing the same clinical education to their med students as the US schools. It's HARD to set up all these clinical rotations for multiple students - it takes, time, money, staff time (to set things up), and a consistent group of dedicated teaching attendings, which is hard to get if said attendings are scattered around various hospitals in various places throughout the US and other countries.

    "If there was ever a more humbling time for these recent grads, or a moment where you literally learn on the job, it was definitely after they left medical school."
    That's true for pretty much all interns at some point in your training during intern year. Not sure what your point is here. I do know that for some Caribbean and other IMG's, they haven't had the same or as much clinical training as a comparable US grad, particularly allopathic grad, probably because they didn't have access to as much teaching in a big academic hospital. I have seen some IMG's and Caribbean grads struggle because I don't think they had the intense 3rd year training, and subinternship, that most all US grads have. Again, that's not true of all IMG's and/or Caribbean grads.

    p.s. the financial concerns espoused by the poster above are very valid. I personally would be nervous about taking out big loans to go to a school that isn't approved by the Stafford loan program. It's something to be considered.
     
  25. AngryBaby

    AngryBaby El Hefe 10+ Year Member

    dragonfly, you've got a fairly good handle of the Carib system but many US kids do not. Carib flame threads almost without fail will lump all schools together which ruffles our rather defensive feathers since the top 3 or 4 Carib schools are head-and-shoulders above the rest. I would argue there's a distinct separation even amongst those schools.

    Anyway, whenever someone comments about how risky the Carib is (which it very much is depending upon which offshore school you attend) the Big 3 kids get their undies in a bunch since we assume that the critical poster doesn't understand the vast differences in quality of Caribbean schools.

    And we're usually right about that, btw. I didn't know about it until I researched which schools down here to which I should apply.
     
  26. JohnnyRockets

    JohnnyRockets Banned

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    Well good advice is to try US schools before going to the Caribbean. Not all offshore schools are easy to get into. Schools in the UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia are some of the most difficult schools to get admission, in world rankings many of them are as good as the best in America, in those countries if you do not have excellent grades and MCAT scores you can forget about it.
     
  27. nativmd

    nativmd ****** 2+ Year Member

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    Hi, 4 quest.

    1. Is the university in dominica affiliated with the one in aruba
    2.any past students on this forum can tell me what it is like
    3. Will i be able to get a license in canada
    4. Is it good or bad i want the total truth
     
  28. ofoshoukno

    ofoshoukno Cram it up your cramhole 2+ Year Member

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  29. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    Probably so, though US schools can be tough on their students also.
    For one thing, US schools are accredited in the US and they get inspected by someone (AAMC = american association of medical colleges, I think is who does it) and if a lot of students were flunking out that would probably attract some negative notice, perhaps even some repercussions for them. Not so the Caribbean med schools, which don't have to answer to AAMC and perhaps not to much of anyone (depending on the country, etc.).
    Also, no matter how many people they fail out there will probably be a many more new ones who want in and will pay tuition, so what is their motivation to do remediation for those who are failing?

    Also, there are people who go down there to the Caribbean who really are not cut out for med school - either they were not well prepared in undergrad, they don't have the right study habits, or aren't that good at science, or just can't memorize all the vast quantity of information you have to be able to get through to get through the first 2 years of med school. So if the people (on average) are less prepared and/or less able than the average person entering a US allopathic school, then more of them will flunk out. Also, if the Caribbean schools want to have a high USMLE board pass rate, then flunking out the people who will fail, or who might, is a good way to keep their board pass rate high...
     
  30. JohnnyRockets

    JohnnyRockets Banned

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    Weeding out is a big issue in the Caribbean, school schools lose as much as half their incoming classes. Its true that many students who go to Caribbean schools have weak states, low GPAs and MCATs. I talked to a lot of PDs and there are going to be issues as a Caribbean grad if you are applying to a prestigious specialty.

    It could be financially disastrous if you go to a school, accumulate debt, and then wind up getting kicked out, not to mention bruising your ego, it will ruin you financially.

    Most US based schools have no higher than 1 percent attrition. There is also a lot more support for students who are struggling but then again, US schools generally take higher caliber students.

    Life on a Caribbean island as a poor medical student will not be fun, contrary to what most people say. You will be in a third world country with many of the things you called necessities back home will be luxuries on the rock.
     
  31. tsunamiking

    tsunamiking

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    how can I find out what the attrition rate for carib schools are... I am particularly interested in Ross...

    thanks!
     
  32. factonista

    factonista

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    I was at a Ross information session a few days ago. They said the attrition rate is around 15%. That includes people who flunk out, leave for personal reasons, and transfer into US medical schools.

    It does seem pretty high, but considering students that try to transfer to the states (which is something I might consider if I end up in a Caribbean school) and students who just don't have a solid foundation or study habits, it makes sense.
     
  33. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    Is that 15% true? I would think that it would be higher. I would seek info from an independent source before I swallowed that 15% as being true. Just asking...
     
  34. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    In addition to knowing what % flunk out or leave the school, you need to know what % of those who stay end up passing the USMLE Step 1, Step 2, Step 2 clinical knowledge on their first try, and what % of ALL STUDENTS ENTERING end up with a US residency. Also, what % of students who don't leave or flunk out end up with a US residency (assuming they wanted on, and not Canada, etc.)? If 15% leave or fail out, another 10% stay but then can't pass their boards, and another 5% don't match, that's 30% (almost 1/3) who have a bad outcome. I'm just making up those numbers (the 10% and 5%) to illustrate a point.
     
  35. factonista

    factonista

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    good points. i only have an answer for one of those questions.

    apparently over 90% of graduates move into residency and practice in North America. that doesn't include students who chose to go into a PhD program afterwards or go into research. also, there's a small group that return to their home country (usually Asia or Africa where residency is not required) to just begin practice. so provided you get through it, those are good odds.

    with respect to attrition, they said that that students leave either within the first two semesters, or after failing Step 1.
     
  36. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99 5+ Year Member

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    You need to examine that statement about students who "choose" to move in to a PhD or research after going to med school. It's true that a few students may choose that, but it seems like an odd choice for people whose goal was to treat patients (i.e. most folks who apply to med school). I mean, someone doesn't go to Ross because of their great Md/Phd program, and the prospect of a high falutin' academic career in the US after getting it, I would assume. I personally know several folks with MD's from foreign countries who are doing postdocs in basic science because it's too hard for them to get residency here in the US. I would be suspicious of this statement from Ross (that you quoted) about the people "choosing" to go for a PhD. It's doesn't make a lot of sense to do that (without first doing residency) for most people - they are basically out $100,000+ with not much to show for it.

    The students who withdrew because they couldn't pass Step 1 - many of them were probably in the school for up to 2 years. Having paid 2 years of tuition and gone to med school x 2 years and then not being able to pass the USMLE would be quite a bad situation to be in, unless your family is independently wealthy.

    I would not go to the Caribbean under any circumstances unless I was a good standardized test taker. The risks are just too high. Better to go to a US DO school that's going to tutor you and get you through the necessary exams. If you ARE a good test taker and just screwed up in undergrad gradewise, but just would rather get an MD than a DO for some reason, then you might do OK at certain Caribbean schools.

    I would take with a large grain of salt any stats quoted you by any of the Caribbean med schools. It's just like a company trying to hire you for a job, or a residency program trying to recruit you - you have to try to get around the "spin" and do your own homework, as you are doing.

    There are definitely Ross grads practicing in the US, but I honestly have never met one. This may be regional (i.e. there aren't many in the Midwest or South where I have lived). If you are going for the Caribbean, I'd go for the school(s) with the absolute best USMLE board pass rate...looks like that would be St George +/- SABA.
     

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