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Thread: Caribbean medical schools are NO LONGER a viable option to becoming an MD.

  1. #1
    TomG is offline Junior Member 514 points
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    Caribbean medical schools are NO LONGER a viable option to becoming an MD.

    Consider this another warning to all prospective students, especially non-American citizens, on the incredible dangers of attending offshore medical schools.

    I remember myself, 4 years ago, researching AUC as a recent University of Toronto Honors Bachelor of Science grad with a double major in Neuroscience and Psychology. I would look at this forum, other success stories, even other doctors in my hometown that were practicing pediatricians and family doctors that had also attended AUC.

    Everyone told me the same story... just get into a medical school. For a time that mentality seemed to work for most offshore students hoping to become physicians. Unfortunately given the current climate of residency and match, that is no longer true.

    I attended AUC as a naive Canadian, fresh out of undergrad and eager to become the best doctor in the world. I started off very strong as a student and even made Deans list TWICE, became a tutor for multiple courses and was even admitted into the Honor and Services society. I worked harder than I had my entire life and felt as though it was my destiny to become a great doctor. I was even naive enough to believe I would be able to return to Canada and practice medicine back home near my family and friends. I attended all of the seminars on how to best prepare for boards, extracurricular activities, honor clerkships etc. and felt as though I had it all figured out.

    In retrospect I was being mislead by my own ignorance and willful blindness at the competitiveness of securing a residency that was increasing with every passing year... that would culminate on the year I would graduate in 2015. The school was excellent at hiding these facts from their student body, opting to inspire blind hope rather than reality into its students, ESPECIALLY THE CANADIANS.

    After passing my final NBME exam and leaving the island to return home to write my Step 1, I felt a sense of relief that I was moving on from theory to practical knowledge and would not only crush my step 1 exam, but also be one of the best students during clerkships. Given my incredibly strong achievments at AUC basic sciences, I thought that Step 1 would be a walk in the park. Unfortunately for me, I failed to realize that Step 1 was not only a knowledge exam that had material NEVER even taught at AUC, but was also a 9 hour endurance exam. AUC never prepared its students on how to best approach questions, take breaks, or traps to avoid on the exam. AUC's ONLY goal was to teach students JUST ENOUGH TO PASS. Walking into the exam in Toronto, I was sure I was going to do extremely well on Step 1, oh boy was I wrong. At exactly block 4 (4 hours into the exam), my ability to read and answer questions began to plummet. I was never the kind of student to take breaks during exams and opted usually to plow through the tests as opposed to doing them in short bursts. AUC tested its students every 2 weeks in 4 hour blocks. I was already at the breaking point doing these exams but managed to do well regardless. It was then I realized that I did not have the stamina and endurance to complete the exam at the best of my ability. I began to fall behind block after block and eventually all students, yes EVEN YOU, start to give up and just want the test to end.

    I left the exam room shocked, and extremely tired. I hadn't finished 2 blocks and had to rush every block after hour 4 because I couldn't keep pace. It was a disaster and I felt cheated out of a good score because of my poor endurance.

    After receiving my incredibly sub-par step 1 score of 214, I felt like a massive failure. Step scores are THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in securing a residency, if you score low you are risking not matching at all. It was my dream and passion to become a pediatrician and when I saw that number, my dreams evaporated. So I decided that I would settle with family medicine since that is a less competitive specialty, thus began my clerkships.

    I started my first core clerkship at Bronx Leb hospital in Oby Gyn. I was living in a rat infested apartment, in a very dangerous neighbourhood, and was only comfortable once I had arrived at the hospital. I was an extremely involved student, delivered over 14 babies, assisted with 2 C sections as a first assistant, and NEVER was late or missed a day. Even when my other fellow students would come in late for overnight shift in the obstetrics ward, I would always be there for the the full 14 hour shift. Everyone told me I worked too hard, but I knew that hard work pays off. I honored the course and felt proud of myself.... however I learned that my fellow classmates, who would even skip work days, ALSO honored the rotation. I felt cheated. After all of the hard work I put into the rotation, everyone else got honors just like me.

    I swallowed this truth and told myself that at least I was being honest.

    My work ethic carried through my cores at NUMC in pediatrics, and this time my classmates decided to sabotage me by talking about me behind my back to fellow residents and attendings. Fortunately one of the residents informed me of this and I became much more wary of how cuthroat and devious other medical students can be. I even was able to secure a letter of recommendation.

    I then went to the UK, in Slough, which was an underserved area outside of london. I completed IM, Surgery, and Psychiatry and all of the attendings loved me there. While the other students were all travelling Europe, I was actually at work. I was invovled, I cared about my job and tried to impress everyone. I secured another letter of recommendation, even saved a few lives while I was at it. I also did some extracurricular work outside of work hours delivering more kids via C-section in the obstetrics unit.

    I then did a family medicine rotation back in NYC bronx, loved the clinic and convinced myself that maybe this was my destiny. I was given my own clinic room, gave lectures to patients in the waiting room on assortments of diseases, and secured another LOR.

    It was time to go home to write step 2 CK.

    Now I want all of you readers to understand something very important here, once you leave St. Maarten after having completed basic sciences, you will NEVER hear from the school again. They don't give us tips, they don't teach, they give you NO GUIDANCE whatsoever on how to do well on step 2 ck. In fact, step 2 CK is usually an exam that most AMG's do better in that step 1, because they are not only getting hands on experience but also LESSONS FROM THEIR SCHOOL during clerkships. AUC students get nothing. It is basically a self taught thing. I asked every student what the best source material was to study from and the consensus was that NO SINGLE BOOK is best at preparing for step 2 ck. Everyone says, "just do U world and you'll be fine." Ya Uworld is fine if you have lessons in school to go along with it you lucky AMG. I decided to take a DIT course to help me prepare for Step 2 CK, boy was that a mistake.

    I passed the mandatory NBME Step 2 COMP first time, was given my certificate and I wrote the exam along with my Canadian MCCEE... the outcome was my worst nightmare realized. I had passed the MCCEE just fine, but then I was given the news I had failed step 2 ck by 2 points with a 207. Passing score for step 2 was recently increased from 180-190 to now being a 209 in 2014.

    I was crushed. Failures in the steps are a death sentence. I wanted to quit then and there but my parents pushed me to graduate, saying I had gone through so much to give up now since I was so close.

    I pushed on, completing the remaining of my electives with honors, and secured 5 more letters of recommendations. I then went to florida to complete a course on step 2 ck exam, passed the test with a 220 and graduated. Step 2 CS was also done at the same time, passed it no problem first try.

    September came along. It was application season and everyone was excited. I had done all of my boards and all that remained was interviews and match.

    Letters were in, personal statements done, MSPE etc all in on the very first day of applications. I applied to all 200 programs in family medicine offering J1 visas to prospective residents. Within the first month I got an email invitation for an interview in family medicine, and I thought to myself that maybe I would be lucky after all. Then October came, then November, then December... I asked my fellow Canadians and even AUC students and they all admitted they had only secured 0-2 interviews even in late December...

    I began to panic big time.

    I emailed programs, updated my transcripts etc but nobody was asking me for interviews. I called AUC and they told me that I needed to be patient.

    January came. I went to my interview and immediately felt as though I was not a strong candidate for the residency program as my interviewers did not seem impressed with me. I even asked the other candidates, who were also CANADIAN, how many interviews they had this season, they all replied.. ONE. THE ONLY PERSON in our group that had more was an American girl from AUA that had 11 interviews so far with TWO FAILURES on her boards.

    It was then I realized the truth... being an non-US citizen IMG is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Now here I am, after match week with NO OFFERS and NO JOB.. having amassed MASSIVE debt and the banks are coming for my family and the house.

    Why did this happen? I then began to perform a post mortem on my medical school career. I came upon an article which I feel ALL prospective caribbean students should read, especially Canadians, on how the residency spots are these days: No More IMGs for Residency Training Programs After 2015, Says Journal of American Medical Association | Medicalopedia

    Basically, the higher demand for doctors has inspired medical schools to INCREASE enrollment into their schools BUT residency spots have remained unchanged. NOW we have a match climate that even has UNMATCHED AMG's!!!

    If you are to take a lesson from this then it is this, DO NOT GO TO A MEDICAL SCHOOL OUTSIDE OF YOUR COUNTRY. All you will accrue is debt, and a useless MD title that is worth absolutely NOTHING in the work world.

    If you don't get into a medical school in your home country, keep applying, then apply some more. If you still don't get it, apply again. Eventually you will realize that medicine is not for you and you'll find another career that will lead you to a life that would be better off than if you had attended an offshore medical school.

    There is no reason to go to caribbean medical schools anymore, that path has been closed off thanks to the US medical schools and DO programs. And to all of you hoping to match into Canada, it is even WORSE to get into to a residency up here than down in the states. Nobody wants IMG's anymore.

  2. #51
    Med grad is offline Member 527 points
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    I am not surprised. If you are not a US citizen and need programs to sponsor you, this is an additional hurdle and many program are not considering applicants needing a visa. This situation is likely to get worse in the future so you need to consider this very carefully if you are from Canada and are counting on US programs to get you back to Canada.

  3. #52
    struggleissuperreal is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Hi guys, so i just graduated and I'm evaluating all my options. Advice is much needed also!
    I went to a top tier school undergrad (Emory) but I had several health issues (autoimmune disease, family drama, etc)

    cumulative gpa: 2.5
    sGPA: 2.8
    MCAT: 497

  4. #53
    ImHere2SaveYou is offline Newbie 512 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by struggleissuperreal View Post
    Hi guys, so i just graduated and I'm evaluating all my options. Advice is much needed also!
    I went to a top tier school undergrad (Emory) but I had several health issues (autoimmune disease, family drama, etc)

    cumulative gpa: 2.5
    sGPA: 2.8
    MCAT: 497
    Both your MCAT and your GPA are too low. Are you going to use family drama/cold for why Step Scores are low as well? Why you prescribed the wrong medication to a patient?

  5. #54
    devildoc8404's Avatar
    devildoc8404 is offline Ultimate Member 12699 points
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    "Too low" for what? For a Carib school? Come on, now. AUC/SGU/Ross are almost certainly out, but there will be others who will be happy to take his/her tuition.

    Hey, I have no idea whether this person has the chops to become a decent doc, or not... and neither do you. Granted, the numbers and track record are not great, but unless you have a whole hell of a lot more personal insight into this individual's situation and background, then you're just sniping from the cheap seats. Easy to do, yeah, but kinda lame.

    Regardless, one thing is pretty certain -- 2.5/497 is not going to get the job done at a US MD or DO school. The only remaining option -- if the is to look overseas, and someone in these shoes should ONLY do so with a firm grasp on the reality of the Match situation for foreign med grads... as well as making double-damn sure that the medical and familial issues that tanked undergrad are completely resolved/managed before beginning medical education.

    (Also, just FYI -- the common cold is not an autoimmune disease. Might be worth reading up on that before you start tossing shade at people on the internet with a handle like "ImHere2SaveYou." Just sayin'.)

    "When I haven't any
    blue... I use red
    ."
    - Pablo Picasso

    BA - Oregon ° MS - BYU ° MD - MU-Sofia
    Clinical Research Fellow / Resident
    Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman 1996-2003


  6. #55
    danielpaul is offline Junior Member 511 points
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    Thanks TomG for the info.

    What a sad story!

    As a Canadian that is currently going at AUC, I am following the same path as you. Its not a confortable position actually.
    Until now, I heard about …1… student that did not match. This student happened to be Canadian. You might be this student or a 2nd one.
    Straight from the horse’s mouth, are there many of our fellows that did not match?

  7. #56
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    Paleo2015 is offline Junior Member 518 points
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    I am Canadian, and i am happy to post that I matched in 2019. I guess it all depends which specialty you apply to...Family is safest for increasing your match odds.
    Ross student and I Matched !!!!

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