Selecting a Caribbean Medical School

Keisha Bryant, Resident at New York Methodist Hospital

Keisha Bryant
Resident at New York Methodist Hospital
Ross Graduating Class of 2014

Each year, thousands of qualified aspiring medical students select a Caribbean medical school to pursue their medical degree. Because US medical schools receive far more applications from qualified candidates than they can possibly accept, they are forced to establish cutoffs based on MCAT scores and GPAs. The best of the Caribbean medical schools play an important role in educating the physicians needed for the healthcare systems of today and beyond. Ross University School of Medicine, one of the premier Caribbean medical schools, provides an opportunity for qualified and dedicated individuals to pursue their dream to become a physician.

If you are considering applying to and attending a Caribbean medical school, we encourage you to consider the following: 

Reputation and Track Record

There are more than 50 medical schools in the Caribbean: some developed to serve the particular country where they are located, and others, like Ross, that are attended by primarily students from the United States and Canada. Of this latter group, Ross is one of the oldest and most established. Founded in 1978, Ross has more than 12,000 graduates who are practicing in every US state. Because of our large alumni network, Ross is well-known in the medical profession for providing a quality education to students who are dedicated and resilient.

Accreditation and Approvals for Licensure

Another important topic to consider is accreditation, and whether or not the schools you are considering have accreditations that are recognized in all 50 US states and Canada. In fact, the majority of the medical schools in the Caribbean are not accredited throughout the US, which can cause issues for students after graduation. When researching Caribbean medical schools, make sure you find out each one’s associated accrediting body, and whether there are any restrictions on the locations where its graduates are permitted to practice upon completion of the requisite licensing examinations.

Because some US states, such as California, Florida, New Jersey and New York, have more stringent rules concerning international medical school graduates (IMGs) than others, it is important to learn if the Caribbean medical school you are considering is by these states. If you know where you want to practice medicine, contact that state's board of medical examiners or visit the school’s individual website to find out if its graduates are permitted to practice there before you apply.

Quality of the Students

When comparing Caribbean medical schools, another factor to consider is the associated admissions requirements. During your search, consider finding answers to these important questions: What are the mean overall GPA and MCAT scores of accepted students? Is the MCAT a requirement for admission?  Do you need letters of recommendation, and if so, from whom?

The average MCAT of students Ross students entering medical school in September 2015, January 2016, and May 2016 is 25 (discontinued exam) and 496 (new exam).

Quality of the Curriculum

RUSM Simulation CenterIt goes without saying that the quality of the education you receive in medical school will determine your success as a physician later on. Therefore, it is important that, for each of the Caribbean medical schools under consideration, you look at the curriculum offered in both the pre-clinical and clinical semesters. Make sure you find out when hands-on training begins; whether or not the school is technologically advanced and uses human simulators in its curriculum; whether or not all clinical rotations are completed in the US; and whether or not the school uses an organ systems-based curriculum.

Performance on USMLE Step 1

Performance on Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is one of the most important determinants in a medical student's ability to obtain the residency of his or her choosing. Many residency directors will evaluate a potential resident using his or her medical school's first-time pass rate on USMLE Step 1, versus the comparative pass rate achieved by students in the US and Canada. In 2014, Ross achieved a first-time pass rate of 97 percent on USMLE, which is above the rate achieved by US and Canadian schools (96%), and above the rate achieved by osteopathic schools (93 percent).

Residency Appointments

Students who attend well-established Caribbean medical schools have a good chance of successfully attaining a residency, whether through pre-matching or through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). When researching medical schools in the Caribbean, make sure you look at what percentage of students matched; where students matched; and in which medical specialties.

A total of 786 Ross graduates attained residencies in 2016. View the full 2016 list here.

Financial Aid Availability

Ross is one of only four Caribbean medical schools approved for participation in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Because of Ross's high standards of education and track record of quality outcomes, eligible students may participate in this program in order to fund their education. Making the decision to go to medical school is a major financial commitment. As a result, whether or not a school offers financial aid is a key part of many medical school applicants’ decision-making process. As a result, it is important to discover whether or not the Caribbean medical school you are considering offers financial aid, and in what form. Make sure to find answers to these questions: Is the school qualified to participate in US government loan programs? And can eligible Canadian student attain provincial loans?