Caribbean Medical Schools Forum: Post questions (or help others) on topics related to Caribbean and other non-U.S. or non-Canadian medical schools.
Dr. Bill Cain enjoying a dive trip in the Caribbean
StudentDoc: Thank you for this interview and your willingness to answer questions on the StudentDoc Caribbean Medical School Forum.
First, can you tell us a little about your background and in particular your experience with medical schools in the Caribbean?
Dr. Cain: After retiring from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine (in 1994) I taught at Ross (6 years), at George Washington (2 years) and American University of Antigua (5 years). At Ross School of Medicine, I was Chairman of Microbiology (6 years) and acting Dean of Basic Sciences (1 year). At AUA, I was an Assistant Dean (responsible for the AUA International Heart Association program) for one year.
I am retired now, but I still care for and about Caribbean medical schools and Caribbean medical students.
Before I went to the Caribbean I had an academic career in the United States, starting with a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology in 1966 from Louisiana State University. I was on Faculty at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in the Department of Microbiology from 1965 – 1994.
StudentDoc: Are all Caribbean medical schools the same? What are the important things to look for when evaluating them?
Dr. Cain: Tough questions! The answers are Yes and No.
Some Caribbean medical schools are relatively new, some have been there a long time (e,g,, St. Georges, Ross, AUC and Saba); some are in rural environments, some are on more developed islands.
All are foreign. And healthcare as well as education in the Caribbean is very different from that in the United States.
Finally, travel to the Caribbean is both expensive and a nuisance, and emergency evacuation can be a nightmare. Though many Caribbean medical school teachers have impressive credentials and professional experience in non-U.S. systems, many lack experience in American medical schools. Equally important, few have much time to tutor individual students.
StudentDoc: Are there limitations on what you can do or where you can practice as a physician having graduated from a Caribbean medical school?
Dr. Cain: Several states do not recognize Caribbean medical school graduates, though this seems to be changing. Still, I am told, there is a stigma. On the other hand, I see the aura of special accomplishment in graduates. The only thing I would add to that is that at each step (from Basic Science to Clinical Science to residence to practice) foreign graduates will have to overcome any perceived stigma.
StudentDoc: Who should consider going to a Caribbean medical school?
Dr. Cain: This one is easy, those who have these credentials:
- They have good GPA and MCAT numbers
- They are determined to become a doctor
- They are unable to get into a U.S. medical or osteopathic school
Please keep reading.
The Caribbean medical school environment is no place to work through personal problems. Don’t even consider doing this for a holiday, for prestige, or for your family. There are advantages to going to school in a foreign country (e.g., finding a way when all else has failed, the broadening experience of living in a different culture, and the satisfaction of overcoming significant obstacles), but those advantages do not match associated disadvantages in an arena as challenging as medical education.
Students who do well in Caribbean medical schools are those who are qualified for admission in U.S. medical schools but unable to make the cut due to age, social/cultural disadvantages, or lack of maturity as a premed. The best of the Caribbean medical school students are those with good premed records and some experience in healthcare, i.e., the Physician Assistant/Associates, nurses and paramedics, most of whom were always qualified – but failed to make the cut.
More about Caribbean medical schools
Things to consider when choosing a medical school in the Caribbean
Be sure you are attending an accredited medical school in the Caribbean
Consider residency placement after Caribbean medical school
Pros and cons of medical school in the Caribbean
Get more information from websites of medical schools in the Caribbean