Caribbean Medical Schools

There are more than 70 medical schools located in the Caribbean. Medical schools there are classed as regional and offshore. Regional schools train medical students to practice in specific countries and regions, whereas offshore schools train students from the United States and Canada, who plan to return home to practice. Degrees given by Caribbean medical schools are (MD) Doctor of Medicine and (MBBS) Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degrees. The schools are indexed in the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory (IMED) and/or the Avicenna Directory for medicine.

Caribbean medical schools gain accreditation from various agencies shown in FAIMER Directory of Organizations that Recognize/Accredit Medical Schools (DORA). Most offshore medical schools in Caribbean nations are dual-campus schools, where basic sciences, including anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, and others, are taught in the Caribbean, and internships are finished at teaching hospitals in the United States. These include Caribbean Medical University School of Medicine located in Curacao, off the Venezuelan coast. That school is listed in both the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory and the AVICENNA Directory for medicine.

Medical education in the Caribbean is generally viewed as subordinate to training in the United States. Students often seek admission to medical school in the Caribbean as a second chance at gaining medical education after failing to gain admission to an American medical school. A grade-C science student at an American university will have almost no chance of gaining admission to an American medical school, but might still have a chance in the Caribbean. There is sometimes a greater diversity in the backgrounds of students at Caribbean schools than at American medical schools. Many are older and have spent time in other professions before even approaching a medical school. Some American medical schools have attempted to denigrate their Caribbean counterparts, casting the schools as substandard and the students as having been unworthy of a medical education, to begin with. At the same time, there are now more than 10,000 licensed physicians in the United States who graduated from medical school in the Caribbean. Those physicians served internships at American hospitals.

The admission standards for students applying to the Caribbean medical schools essentially mirror those of American medical schools. Primary among them is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is required by most, though not all, medical schools in the Caribbean. Undergraduate academic performance is also assessed by Caribbean medical schools, although generally, the standards are lower than those maintained by American schools. Average students do get admitted to some Caribbean medical schools. Passing rates on the Medical Licensing Exam Step 1 are also a useful measure of the quality of medical education at the schools, and that varies throughout the Caribbean, from a low of 19% to a high of 84%. The acceptance rate for residencies at American hospitals is also a valid measure, and that varies, too, from a low of 28% to a high of 86%.

Medical schools in Caribbean nations do offer a genuine opportunity to gain medical education for many students from around the world. To maximize their chances of success in the profession, students must pick and choose. The quality of the schools does vary, and schools in some Caribbean countries are for the most part better than schools in other countries. Schools develop reputations, and the reputations can be assessed and compared. Many doctors in the United States graduated from Caribbean medical schools, and so the opportunity is there.