The Clerkships Showdown in Canada: Why Caribbean Medical Schools Are Stealing the Show


In the past few years, a number of medical clerkship positions across Canada have been increasingly awarded to students from Caribbean medical schools. By definition, clerkships are training opportunities offered to students during their 3rd and 4th years of medical degree programs and are mandatory under medical schools accreditation regulations. The positions are both beneficial to students and the medical training institution: while students get the opportunity to gain firsthand experience and work with doctors and other medical practitioners firsthand, the institutions get a chance to lend their reputation and prestige to the hospitals. What could be responsible for this increased shift attention to the Caribbean medical schools?

More Diverse students

While Canadian population is admittedly diverse, various medical schools comprise of students who are either White or from Asian origins. In the contrary, students from Caribbean medical schools come from much more diverse backgrounds—socially, ethnically, and economically. Accordingly, many health care facilities in Canada are inclined to students from Caribbean medical schools because they tend to be a better reflection of the Canadian population that the facilities attempt to serve.

Ability to Enter Shorthanded Specialties

Compared to Canadian medical students, their Caribbean counterparts are more willing to become primary care physicians and are ready to work with underserved populations. With persistent shortage of physicians and other primary care givers in Canada, it is in the best interest of many health care facilities to secure the interest of young and willing bright medical students to fill up the highly demanded short-handed positions such as those in the primary care.

More Funding for Floundering Health Care Facilities

With the increased competition for clerkship position slots in Canada and the U.S, a number of medical schools have been paying monthly fees and other forms of payments or donation to nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient centers and other post-acute care settings in order to obtain these coveted slots. Unlike their Canadian institutions, Caribbean medical schools are ready to pay more to secure clerkship positions for their students—in fact some schools are reported to have been paying up to $400 per student per week. Some Canadian health facilities, especially those serving vulnerable populations often lack enough funding. Accordingly, they are more ready to accept this additional source of funding to bolster certain important departments like emergency rooms which lack sufficient funding.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately for most Canadian medical students, the current clerkship showdown shows very diminutive signs of waning. In fact, the situation could even get worse as more and more Caribbean medical schools continue to match their students into Canadian residencies—they will definitely require more vibrant clerkship positions to train their students beforehand.

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