According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), America alone will be in need of approximately 90,000 physicians by the year of 2020. Canada, likewise, is forecasted to be met with a doctor shortage after Ontario’s government elected to eliminate 50 medical residency programs in August 2015 with no regard for the Ontario Medical Association’s collected statistic that 800,000 people within the province do not have a family doctor. The highly competitive, costly medical educational establishments based in the United States and Canada are often a deterrent to aspiring medical students, which only serves to add to the deficit of physicians to patients. With acceptance rates ranging from 2-4% in highly regarded Canadian and United States medical schools to about 32% from the general applicant pool, Caribbean medical schools offer a less competitive, but formal education that’s helping to fill this massive, worldwide demand for qualified medical professionals.
Medical School Requirements
A refreshing statistical truth for aspiring medical students is that acceptance rates are much higher with less applicants to compete against in most Caribbean medical schools. The average accepted GPA and MCAT score by Canadian and United States medical colleges was 3.55 and 28 in 2014, whereas Caribbean medical schools have been reported to consider an MCAT as low as 20 for direct admission, with the average being 25. These more lenient medical school requirements make the process of applying to medical school much less intimidating and encourage a broader spectrum of applicants who may not be as appealing to more traditional establishments based in Canada and the United States, setting sights on the whole person, not just their academic scores.
While the perks of a more lenient admission decision are hard to beat, attending medical school in the Caribbean also has its own set of drawbacks. These drawbacks, though they do not apply to all Caribbean medical schools, include a harder time finding residency placement, having to obtain an additional certification known as the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduate (ECFMG) certification, risking a lower likelihood of passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE), and risking a higher chance of not graduating. For these reasons, aspiring medical students should fully weigh all options before deciding to commit to a Caribbean medical school.
While medical education may seem more attainable at a Caribbean medical school, many highly qualified applicants also consider medical school in the Caribbean merely for its location, faculty, or program. It remains to be a relatively competitive process which requires passionate commitment and dedication to the field of medicine.