“If the medical field doesn’t look in the least interesting, don’t go for it.” This is a common unsolicited advice that most hopefuls hear from fellow students who have spent years in medical study and most professionals who have been in their field of specialty for years. Most people think a medical course is one of the most difficult educational journeys and only the toughest successfully make it through. Indeed, it is a reality faced by several medical students in the Caribbean.
To be fully prepared for the challenge, it is important to take note of the most important details that practically define medical education as a journey. Setting expectations truly help as well.
When attending medical school in the Caribbean, what should a student be prepared for?
Be ready to spend up to 10 years studying.
Essentially, medical school in the Caribbean can be completed in four years. This is in addition to up to five years in pre-med. In order to become a physician, students need to spend another three to seven years in residency. The first and second years in school are normally dedicated to classroom lectures in the basic sciences, including anatomy and pathology, in addition to laboratory time. The classes vary in terms of level of difficulty.
Quality education requires serious focus: “over-studying” is a myth.
A lot of students make a big deal out of “studying too much” but in a Caribbean medical school where the study load is usually heavy, an entire day is almost not enough to memorize massive tables of information and understand them by heart. Because they are presented with new material every single day, only by studying ahead, researching more, and studying some more do medical students get through each semester. HuffingtonPost.com suggests that time management and proper study habits—especially during the exam season—can effectively help them stay ahead and not fall behind.
The tuition fees are expensive—and so is everything else.
Sure, the tuition goes as high as $50,000 or more per year. But that’s not all. The books, the dissection materials and kits, as well as other materials and equipment may be just as costly. For this reason, medical students need to ask themselves if they are up not only for the challenge of schooling itself but also the expenses that will be incurred in the entire journey. Thankfully, there are financial aid options that students can run to, for as long as they are qualified for them.
For students who eat and breathe nearly everything medical, overcoming these obstacles can be extremely fulfilling. And while downright challenging, these realities that come with medical schooling in the Caribbean are not meant to discourage newcomers. As with any good thing, a medical career does pay off with a lot of discipline, hard work and persistence. In fact, these medical school situations should prepare them for the real world and the real challenges that all professional physicians encounter during practice. It’s a lifelong learning process, after all!