Should I Attend a Caribbean Medical School or Try to Stay in the US?

The Post-Cycle Clash: Should I stay (in the US) or should I go (to the Caribbean)? 3 Things to Consider

Around June of every year,  US allopathic schools have sent out all of their interviews and acceptances. For some, the end of this medical school application and interview cycle is full of joy and elation, but for others, career timelines have been dramatically altered. If you are in the latter group and are considering Caribbean schools, this article is for you. Some Caribbean medical schools are still accepting applications and admission during this cycle may represent the last shot at staying on-track with their personal timelines. Here are three considerations to help you decide.

  1. Will another year improve your chances at getting into US allopathic medical schools?

While many factors go into school interview/admissions decisions, there are several easy ways to give yourself a much higher chance next cycle.

  • Apply on time to an appropriate spectrum & number of schools
  • Perfect your personal statement
  • Improve your letters of recommendation
  • Practice your interview skills
  • Get application coaching

Unfortunately, there may also be less-fixable reasons why you didn’t get an interview to US schools (GPA, MCAT, etc.). While these can be fixed with time and hard work, you would be dedicating months of your life to improving your stats. Are you willing to do that? Only you can answer that.

  1. Have you considered the advantages/disadvantages of Caribbean school?

The Pros:

  • Become a MD
  • Easier admission requirements
  • Bigger classes/staggered start dates

The Cons:

  • Lower residency match rate – Unless you do residency, you will not be able to practice as a doctor. Many Caribbean schools have a far lower US residency match rate. If you are considering a competitive specialty such as orthopedic surgery, dermatology, or urology, you will have an arduous path ahead.
  • High drop-out rate – This displays a poor academic support system for medical students. Students who drop out do not get refunded their tuition.
  • Less collaborative – While most US medical schools facilitate teamwork with a pass/fail system, Caribbean medical schools grade on a curve. You’ll need to compete against your classmates for the top ranks.
  1. Do you have a compelling reason to begin medical school this cycle?

At the end of the day, the decision to stay or go is a personal decision. Some people have circumstances in which starting an international medical school this cycle is the right decision. Others may believe that Caribbean schools are the best they can get. If this is you, please seek some counsel from us. We’d be happy to provide an assessment of your application and your options.

To conclude, please remember that medical training is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Once you get in, you’re committed to 4 years of medical school, 3-7 years of residency, and possibly more for fellowship. Taking a year off to improve your application might be worth the price if you can set yourself up for more long-term success.