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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.

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    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. #2
    Paleo2015's Avatar
    Paleo2015 is offline Junior Member 518 points
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    I have seen some info in regards to this subject posted on a different forum (SDN). And basically, it comes down to J1 VISA restrictions this year. It appears that the number of SONs released for this year was smaller than previous years .
    A lot of program directors did not want to take chances with canadian IMGs applying to residencies in US that are J1 visa holders.

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/thre...#post-17541767

    It is a very unfortunate turn of events and it will be worse and worse.
    There are 1200 AMG that did not match this year and going into SOAP stage.
    The competition is becoming fierce for the residency spots and as a Canadian I am dreading it.

    I don't have false hopes, but I am not a quitter.

    still, there are ppl who matched in US (Candians) this year.My guess is that they didn't have any red flags in their application.

    Sorry to hear about your story and thank you for sharing it on this forum which sees a lot of interest in the Caribbean Route..
    Last edited by Paleo2015; 03-17-2016 at 02:33 PM.
    Ross student and I Matched !!!!

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    TomG is offline Junior Member 514 points
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    I just hope that people who are looking into going offshore for medical school read this post and understand how much of an unecessary risk it has become to be an MD from the caribbean.

    I deluded myself into thinking previous horror stories weren't going to happen to me since I was a clever kid, but in the end it happened to me.

    There is absolutely no reason to go to off shore schools anymore, it is no longer worth the risk ESPECIALLY for Canadians.

    Furthermore I have advice for current Canadians/ Non-US citizens already starting their med school careers in a Caribbean or European schools hoping to enter the states for residency:

    1) If you are starting in May- Sept 2016, quit now. It doesn't matter which school you are going to. I was a student at AUC which is one of the Big Four schools and it doesn't make a difference.

    2) If you are in the first semester, quit now and cut your losses regardless of how well you are doing in your classes. I was a 93% student at the end of my first year and look what happened to me.

    3) If you are about the do your step 1 exam, if you don't score over 230 on your first attempt, QUIT. Cut your losses and move on with your life.

    4) If you fail ANY board exam or clerkship, QUIT. No exceptions.

    5) If you score over 230 on step 1, pass all of your boards on first attempt AND score 20-30 points higher on Step 2 CK, with strong letters of recommendations and honors for all of your clerkships, you have some very little hope. Go ahead and apply and see what happens.

    6) If you know of any friend, relative or stranger that mentions they want to go to offshore schools for medical training, please do the right thing and warn them. Just tell them to keep applying back home or quit their dreams of becoming an MD and do something else.
    Last edited by TomG; 03-17-2016 at 03:05 PM.
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    Paleo2015's Avatar
    Paleo2015 is offline Junior Member 518 points
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    It is very disheartening !
    I've been anxiously following the match development this year and it is not very encouraging.
    I also noticed that there is not to much feedback this year on this forum. bad sign ?!

    On Ross fb blog there is some input from students who matched this year, would like to see the numbers when they are released. There is one who matched back home at Macmaster, so far.

    So, it looks like is not as bad as it was predicted (remember the doomsday of 2014 matching that it was supposed to exclude all the IMGs applying in the US?). But it it's definitely harder than a lot of ppl expected.

    Even for AMGs , it was a shock this year. Most of them were surprised that Psych became so competitive and they were not prepared for it.

    What are your plans now?

    What are the options ?
    Ross student and I Matched !!!!

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    TomG is offline Junior Member 514 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleo2015 View Post
    It is very disheartening !
    I've been anxiously following the match development this year and it is not very encouraging.
    I also noticed that there is not to much feedback this year on this forum. bad sign ?!

    On Ross fb blog there is some input from students who matched this year, would like to see the numbers when they are released. There is one who matched back home at Macmaster, so far.

    So, it looks like is not as bad as it was predicted (remember the doomsday of 2014 matching that it was supposed to exclude all the IMGs applying in the US?). But it it's definitely harder than a lot of ppl expected.

    Even for AMGs , it was a shock this year. Most of them were surprised that Psych became so competitive and they were not prepared for it.

    What are your plans now?

    What are the options ?
    AUC had one Canadian match at Dalhousie during the second iteration of Carms. I've heard of nobody else matching in Canada.

    In fact, none of the Canadians that I know from my class matched in the NRMP match either.

    AMG's aren't matching, IMG's arent' matching, FMG's aren't matching. DO programs are merging with MD programs... it's just going to get worse and worse every year.

    I honestly believe that eventually the offshore medical school business will eventually dry up because of the state of residency programs currently. Once the baby boomers die in the next 15-20 years, the demand for doctors will PLUMMET, med school enrollment will DROP, residency spot will remain the same and everything will go back to normal.

    As for me, I need to do some thinking and soul searching.

  6. #6
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    I am very sorry to read about this, TomG. I hope that you will be able to find a pathway to training, somehow.

    EU schools are still viable for people who are interested in working in Europe... AND have the language skills and citizenship(s) to make it a viable option. Unfortunately, the Carib diplomas do not travel as well on this side of the Atlantic. Could be worth a check, though. I would imagine that if the UK/Ireland will accept an AUC degree (no idea whether they will, or not -- check with the GMC and IMC), then a Commonwealth (Canuck) citizen might be able to get the time of day for an interview...

    Good luck to you...

    "When I haven't any
    blue... I use red
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomG View Post
    AUC had one Canadian match at Dalhousie during the second iteration of Carms. I've heard of nobody else matching in Canada.

    In fact, none of the Canadians that I know from my class matched in the NRMP match either.

    AMG's aren't matching, IMG's arent' matching, FMG's aren't matching. DO programs are merging with MD programs... it's just going to get worse and worse every year.

    I honestly believe that eventually the offshore medical school business will eventually dry up because of the state of residency programs currently. Once the baby boomers die in the next 15-20 years, the demand for doctors will PLUMMET, med school enrollment will DROP, residency spot will remain the same and everything will go back to normal.

    As for me, I need to do some thinking and soul searching.
    I wish you good luck !
    Ross student and I Matched !!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by devildoc8404 View Post
    I am very sorry to read about this, TomG. I hope that you will be able to find a pathway to training, somehow.

    EU schools are still viable for people who are interested in working in Europe... AND have the language skills and citizenship(s) to make it a viable option. Unfortunately, the Carib diplomas do not travel as well on this side of the Atlantic. Could be worth a check, though. I would imagine that if the UK/Ireland will accept an AUC degree (no idea whether they will, or not -- check with the GMC and IMC), then a Commonwealth (Canuck) citizen might be able to get the time of day for an interview...

    Good luck to you...
    I really didn't think of that route ! Thanks devildoc !
    I will look into it for sure...
    Ross student and I Matched !!!!

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    Untel's Avatar
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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?

    Thx

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    TomG is offline Junior Member 514 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by Untel View Post
    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?

    Thx
    Not that I know of. I was asking all of the Canadians I knew (about 8-10 kids) during 4rth year who I was rotating with in my class how many interviews they were getting since i was panicking. They ALL told me either NONE, or ONE.

    I interviewed at my one location with 3 other Canadians, and it was ALSO THEIR ONLY OFFER for interview this season. The american girl that was also there had 15 INTERVIEWS! She was from another Caribbean school, not one of the Big Four though. I don't remember the name but it DEFINELTY wasn't St. George, Ross, AUC or SABA.

    The truth is that if you go to a off shore school and you are a NON US citizen, you are going to have a very tough time.

    Nobody wants us.

    Canada treats us like FMG's while the states has preferential treatment for their students studying abroad. Being a Canadian is a liability these days, and I am very upset that the country I grew up in is treating us like this. I went to U of T during my undergrad, I was a Neuroscience major and my parents all paid taxes in Ontario. I took a financial risk going abroad to study medicine and now that I want to return as an AMERICAN trained physician that has passed all of his AMERICAN AND CANADIAN boards, I get ignored.

    I haven't applied to Carms yet but from what I've heard, matching is almost impossible. The states has over 150 medical schools in their country while we only have 14. We have NO opportunities anymore especially since Wynn has CUT both doctor jobs, residency spots AND paychecks in Ontario. She has caused the removal of over 50 residency spots in Ontario leaving CMG's without residencies, much less IMG's.

    It's a mess. And it's a mess I can't do anything to fix it anymore. My boards are done, I can't fix them. My LOR's are in, I am ECFMG certified, I have my degree, but that degree means nothing in North America without a residency.

    I'm sure you get people every year after match that come onto this board and rant about how unfair life is etc. but rest assured that I am saying these things to educate people before they make a very big mistake. I want to help people, I want to heal people and now I can't.

    The admissions committee at AUC, Ross etc. all need to understand that applicants into their schools are not just a source of disposable income, they are people that are hoping to work as physicians after they complete your program. If the MAJORITY of non-US citizens are not matching from your school, STOP ADMITTING THEM into your school. It is the right thing to do, morally. It's not just about surviving your program, it is about maximizing their chances to MATCH. When one of your grads who is Canadian scores 250's on both of her steps, applies to 200 family medicine programs and ONLY secures 10 interviews, you know there is a problem.

    When students are scoring 350 on MCCEE and not even getting INTERVIEWS in all of Canada, you know there is a problem.

    Why would you let these kids destroy themselves for a futile dream? You need to be mentors and guides to these prospective students, and be honest with them. Stop taking their money and start serving their best interests.
    Last edited by TomG; 03-17-2016 at 06:23 PM.
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