It is not news that admissions to medical schools in the United States and Canada are very competitive. In the US, fewer than half of applicants are accepted to medical schools each year. In Canada, there is a shortage of medical doctors, but there are still limited slots in medical schools there.
Tens of thousands of applications are rejected annually. Many of these candidates are in fact qualified. They have the ambition, work ethic, and skill to become very effective physicians. One solution for qualified students like these who want to become doctors is Caribbean medical schools.
Why Go To A Caribbean Medical School?
In the US and Canada, MCAT scores are very important in terms of admissions. By contrast, many Caribbean medical schools weigh other factors more heavily before making a decision. Schools such as the American University of Antigua and the University of Medicine and Health Sciences take a more holistic view. They understand that many qualified potential doctors do not excel at standardized tests. These schools provide opportunities for people who would otherwise be denied.
Caribbean medical schools often also allow students to finish earlier. This is possible due to accelerated programs. By shaving two years off of a pre-med program, students save a bundle on tuition and get to work earlier. Canadian universities would benefit from adopting such a curriculum that put more doctors to work more quickly. With so many waiting lists for both GPs and specialists such as psychiatrists, any way to train doctors more quickly should be explored.
Finally, Caribbean medical schools are often affiliated with clinical programs in the US in Canada. In fact, often there are slots reserved for students. Following study at Caribbean med schools, Canadian students can compete in both the CaRMS (Canadian Resident Matching Service), and the NRMP (US National Residency Match Program). Graduates of these schools are fully qualified to practice in either Canada or the US.
Impacts On North America
Caribbean medical schools are one important piece in providing qualified doctors to a country, like Canada, that experiences a brain drain of doctors to the United States. The tuition savings of accelerated programs make it far more possible for young doctors to accept the comparatively lower pay offered for a GP in Canada.
Until Canadian and American medical schools reform their admissions programs and curricula to include greater numbers of competent students, medical schools in the Caribbean are an important source of qualified physicians. Some Caribbean schools offer veterinary medicine programs, as well. That is also an area of medicine where shortages are a problem.