As the cost of medical school in the United States rises and spaces for new students become scarce, students are increasingly considering medical school in the Caribbean. However, as part of the application process, prospective medical students should learn about the advantages and disadvantages of attending medical school in the Caribbean. Medical school in the Caribbean is often less expensive, and schools are usually easier to get into, but degrees from these schools are not always recognized in other countries. Some programs may look down on students who went to medical school in the Caribbean when applying for residency.
One of the main advantages of attending a Caribbean medical school, according to most students, is the cost. When compared to medical schools in other countries, such as the United States, Caribbean medical schools are frequently a bargain. Even after factoring in the hidden costs of studying abroad, such as purchasing frequent plane tickets and purchasing travel health insurance, students who choose to attend a school in the Caribbean will typically pay less for their medical education.
Another important factor to consider is that medical schools in the Caribbean are easier to get into. Each year, Caribbean medical schools have three application periods, compared to one for medical schools in the United States. Their requirements for student grade point averages (GPAs) and Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) scores are frequently less stringent.
However, not all Caribbean schools are accredited, and the degrees issued these schools may not be recognized outside of the Caribbean. In fact, most Caribbean schools are not accredited in four states in the United States: California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Prospective students should also check to see if the state or region of the world where they intend to practice medicine recognizes the Caribbean medical school they are considering.
Furthermore, the stigma associated with attending a medical school in the Caribbean can disadvantage students when applying for residency. It is possible to compensate for the negative image performing well on licensing exams such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), as good scores are highly valued many residency programs. It’s also important to remember that not all Caribbean medical schools are created equal. Some of the schools there are well-known in the United States and around the world, so their reputations aren’t necessarily a disadvantage.