How do Caribbean schools work?

I do not know much on how the Caribbean medical school works. Can we practice in the US?

Caribbean medical grads are considered International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and can practice in the US IF AND ONLY IF they pass the USMLE exams and complete an accredited residency in the US.

There are various tiers of med schools operating in the Caribbean and they are FOR PROFIT schools. Any of them would be happy to accept your money then flunk you out after 2 years. If you want to attend med school in the Caribbean, you should only consider the Big 4: Ross on St. Kitts, Saba on Saba, St George’s on Grenada, and American University of the Caribbean (AUC) on Sint Maarten. These are the most reputable.

[The What and Why of Caribbean Med Schools](Why and What of Caribbean Schools | Prospective Doctor)

The 2 HUGE issues that Caribbean med students face are–

  1. graduating

The business model used by Caribbean med schools requires them to flunk out at least 1/2 of all students in years 1-2. These schools simply do not have enough clinical placement slots for all enrolled student so they need to dramatically reduce the number of 3rd year students. These schools enroll huge first year classes (in the 800-1200 range), but have HUGE attrition rates. Additionally, these schools provide little support for students and generally have a “sink-or-swim” attitude. Often even basic supports like textbooks or room to sit in the lecture halls are not available.

  1. matching into a US residency

Despite what the schools’ websites tell you, fewer than 40% of Caribbean grads matched into a US residency last year.

See: [Charting Outcomes in the Match: International Medical Graduates 2018](

And that 40% does not count those students who applied for the Match, but withdrew or didn’t submit a rank list because they didn’t receive any interviews.

Also some those 40% that did match, matched into 1 year only, non-renewable contracts. IMGs need to complete 2 or 3 years (varies by state regulations) of an ACGME accredited residency to be eligible for a US medical license.

Caribbean grads need to have higher USMLE scores than their US educated peers to be considered by the same program in the same specialties. And there are a large number of US residencies that simply will not interview IMGs.

See:[Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Director Survey](Why and What of Caribbean Schools | Prospective Doctor)

And complicating all this is a new DoE requirement that starting in 2021 any foreign medical schools that want to be eligible for federal students must meet a minimum pass rate on the USMLEs. While the Big 4 claim 80-100% pass rates that only includes student who stay enrolled long enough to take the USMLEs and doesn’t include all those who enroll as first year students. So this becomes a big question mark about financing your education.

The Caribbean used to be a pretty decent pathway to becoming a physician practicing in the US, but the MD-DO residency merger next year, the increasing numbers of US med grads coupled with a hard funding cap on the number of available US residency positions make this choice very high risk.

Article about Caribbean med schools from the student’s perspective–

The sad truth is that the majority of people who enroll at a caribbean school will never practice in the USA and of the ones who do, the majority will be in primary care specialties in undesirable locations.