Is a Caribbean medical school a good alternative?

My first real job out of college required me to write ad copy for a real estate agency. By the time I'd left that position I'd hoped to never see the words "Location, Location, Location" again. Ironically, I find myself repeating that mantra many years later as my son considers going on to med school. Don't limit your thinking to only American colleges and universities.

It's easy to get trapped into provincial thinking. We read about the high quality of our educational system in the United States, particularly our colleges and universities and we ask ourselves, "Why should we look any further than our own backyard?". There is one very simple reason.

Caribbean schools offer better value.

Caribbean medical schools have become more and more popular with students from the states and there are some very good reasons for this. Should you may wish to include the three S's (sun, sea, and study) in your school selection process, here are a few things to consider:

1. Tuition Expense

Tuition at many Caribbean medical schools can be significantly less expensive than at American institutions. Sure, there are extra costs involved with living and studying abroad, but these expenses are far outweighed by tuition savings. According to US News, in-state tuition and fees at the University of Pittsburgh will run a student in excess of $44,000 per year. Should one choose to study medicine at American University of Antigua or St Mathew's University, the cost of tuition can be substantially less. Including tuition and fees, choosing a Caribbean medical school can cut the cost of your degree in half. 2. Admission

The number of candidates applying to U.S. schools can be significantly greater than the number of open spots. This means that only those with the highest MCAT scores and GPAs will be admitted. There are many able students who for one reason or another may have scored below their abilities on their MCAT. A Caribbean university can give this student a chance to reach his potential as Caribbean schools can be a bit more forgiving when considering these metrics. Some do not require an MCAT at all.

3. Residency / Clinical Opportunities

Graduates of Caribbean medical schools have had increased success at obtaining competitive residency positions. Performing well on the USMLE can be important, and the reputation of the Caribbean school of graduation can play a significant role as well.

When reviewing a prospective school, make sure that their students are eligible for clinical training in the states. For example, AUA students are eligible for clinical training, residency, and licensure in New York and California. That's a huge plus.

While I wish to emphasize the three points mentioned above, one should not overlook the advantage of studying in a sunny locale. Having gone to school in the snow belt region of upstate New York, I envy my son's opportunity to study where the sun shines most every day. And who knows, perhaps he'll have time for the occasional visitor. Now I just need to scope out a good spot on the beach for my beach umbrella.

Location, location, location.

This is a Guest Post by Rick Burns

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