Who should consider applying to Caribbean medical schools?
Due to their less competitive admissions standards, medical schools in the Caribbean have historically provided an alternative path to students with lower stats who might have otherwise given up on their dreams of practicing medicine. And the benefits are mutual—international medical graduates (IMGs) play an important part in the American healthcare system, comprising 25 percent of the current U.S. physician workforce.
Of these IMGs, 18 percent are graduates of Caribbean medical schools. This means that approximately 4.5 percent of all licensed doctors in the U.S. today earned their M.D. in the Caribbean.
What are the best Caribbean medical schools?
Although there are no official Caribbean medical school rankings, the four schools below, collectively known as “The Big 4,” are generally regarded as the best due to relatively high USMLE pass rates and match rates, the ability to receive federal loans, and the ability of graduates to apply for licensure in all 50 states.
Below, we’ve provided statistics related to each of the Big 4 Caribbean med schools.
Reviewing the data shows that we’ve listed residency attainment rates rather than match rates. That’s due to the reality that, when it comes to residency matching, most Caribbean medical schools do not report the percentage of their graduates who matched through the NRMP Match (as is typical), but rather the percentage who attained a residency via any route, including SOAP week and last minute postings for unfilled positions.
For example, St. George’s University reports that around 95% of “eligible graduates” attain a residency by graduation. They also note that, on average, 29% of graduating students find residency placements outside the NRMP. Therefore, their match rate is likely closer to 66%, although it is not specified how many SGU grads are ineligible to enter the Match each year.
And while other Caribbean medical schools haven’t provided this level of detail regarding how their graduates match, past NRMP data suggests that grads of most Big four schools have similar levels of success when it comes to matching (note: the NRMP no longer publishes IMG Match rates by country).
The “Big 4” Caribbean medical schools
St. George’s University School of Medicine
Average GPA: 3.3
Average MCAT: 498
Attrition rate: Around 16%
Residency attainment rate: 95%
Beginning in 2024, IMGs must graduate from a medical school approved by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) to receive certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), which is needed to apply to U.S. residencies. In 2021, St. George’s University voluntarily withdrew from CAAM-HP, one of its two accrediting bodies, leaving the Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC) as its sole accreditation. On September 3, 2022, the GMDC was awarded Recognition Status by the WFME, enabling SGU graduates to be eligible for ECFMG certification.
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine
Location: St. Maarten
Average GPA: 3.27
Average MCAT: 496
Attrition rate: Not published but rumored to be 12–20%
Residency attainment rate: 92%
Saba University School of Medicine
Location: Saba Island
Average GPA and MCAT: Not published
Attrition rate: Not published
Residency attainment rate: 94%
Ross University School of Medicine
Average GPA: 3.2
Average MCAT: 493
Attrition rate: Around 20%
Residency attainment rate: 92%