Caribbean Medical Schools: A Potential Silver Lining In Canadian Healthcare


After decades of typically considering Caribbean medical schools with low esteem, medical accrediting agencies in Canada are becoming more tolerant and relaxed in their views of their colleagues to their south. If anything, they are in many cases looking to medical schools of many less developed countries to help relieve the healthcare crisis of those giants north of the border, being Canada and the U.S.

To the end of helping you decide if you should give serious thought to attending Caribbean medical schools or a Caribbean university, our article covers some points that will help you decide on the best choice to evaluate these schools.


Some Background Information

Since their inception in the 1970s, more than 60 medical schools and joint university training programs have been listed in both the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMERs) and the International Medical Education Directory (IMED). In other words, Caribbean medical schools are coming of age after decades of vilification by the Canadian medical establishment.


Canada Healthcare System

The Wind of Change Is Blowing In Canada’s Healthcare System

Despite Canada’s increasing shortage of doctors and limited numbers of vacancy seats offered in Canadian medical schools, Canada finds itself in the unenviable position of having to deny more that 30,000 applications annually to medical school graduates in any one of several nations, found mostly in the Caribbean Sea.

No one knows quite sure the reasons, for there are many. In some cases, what applies to British Columbia, does not apply to another province in Canada. Residency requirements may not be met there. Also, there’s the visa system of re-entry back into Canada–another possibly problematic scenario.

Nevertheless, a growing trend continues as Canadian medical school candidates are applying to schools in the Caribbean, or to the school of medicine of universities, with a hope of later being able to practice in their native homeland of Canada.

According to one study, between 1980 and the year 2000, Canadian graduates met basic residency requirements in a range from 28 to 86 percent. Many however, avoided residency requirement entirely by directly going to hospitals. This resulted in 90 percent of the graduates finding residency positions–if only through intelligent perseverance.


Which Are The Lowest Rated Schools

According to another 2008 study, the lowest first-time graduating students in 14 schools ranged from 19 to 84 percent in schools found in the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Cuba, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda–the lowest rated being St. Lucia. In contrast, high performers were schools found in Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica and the highest placed, Grenada. Some even offer alternative paths to aid in becoming an MD in Canada; moreover, some offer students the facility of doing a portion of their elective rotations in Canadian teaching hospitals.


What Questions You Should Ask Before Deciding

– Does the school of medicine have current accreditation information on their official web site?
– How does a school of medicine rate?
– How much does a school of medicine vary from that of another nation in the quality of education?
– Does the medical school have active, written affiliation with Canadian hospitals?
– Do Canadian hospitals have approved postgraduate programs in those elective specialties? For example, if you have an elective background in anesthesiology, does the hospital have an anesthesiology residency?

Today, there are more than 70 Caribbean medical schools and joint university training programs in operation. Depending on how you choose your medical school, some are top-notch and well worth the effort. Having said all of this, choose wisely.

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