Pursuing a medical degree can be an exciting choice to make in your life. It can also be stressful, as the high cost of tuition, stringent entrance exam requirements and other contributing factors of U.S. universities can derail your dreams of becoming a doctor. But did you know an increasing number of U.S. students are earning their medical degrees in the Caribbean?

Earning your degree in a Caribbean paradise

Attending medical school in the Caribbean is not anything new. In fact, for the past 40 years, this region has made a name for itself as international students from the U.S., Canada, India, and Europe have earned their degrees and the coveted “M.D.” acronym after their names. So, why has the Caribbean region developed into a medical education center? The answer is simple: The Caribbean medical schools follow the U.S. medical curriculum. It’s no surprise that working as a doctor in the United States is a lucrative profession. Medical universities with a U.S. curriculum allow students to continue their education or practice in the U.S.

6 ways how to choose the best Caribbean medical school

Attending a Caribbean medical school may be the best decision you make for your future. But how do you know what to look for when choosing the best one for you? Here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing a Caribbean medical school:

  1. Accreditations—Be sure the medical school you are considering is accredited. Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba received full unconditional accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of Colleges of Medicine (ACCM) in 2015. This is an independent, not-for-profit, accrediting organization based in the Republic of Ireland and recognized by the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) and ECFMG. The United States Department of Education has stated that the standards used by ACCM are comparable to those used to accredit medical schools in the United States. As with the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), ACCM uses the guidelines set forth by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The government of Aruba has designated ACCM as the accreditation body for medical schools in Aruba. Xavier University School of Medicine is the only medical school on the island with ACCM accreditation.
  2. Home country recognizes your chosen university—If you’re planning on practicing medicine in your homeland after graduation, it’s crucial that your country recognizes your chosen university. The Accreditation Commission of Colleges of Medicine is recognized as an authorized accreditation body by the NCFMEA under the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Students undergo clinical training in ACGME-approved hospitals rendering clinical training in order to be accepted by licensing bodies of different states. Students at Xavier perform clinical rotations at ACGME-certified teaching hospitals in the United States and Canada. This means our students have the advantage of the same clinical exposure and opportunities as the U.S. medical students. Our alumni cite this as an advantage when they applied to U.S. residencies.
  3. Meet academic eligibility requirements—Inquire about specific scores, entrance exams, and letters of recommendation that may be required for admission.
  4. Transfer eligibility—There may be several reasons students need to transfer from a current medical school. Confirm that the university you’re considering accepts transfer students. (Note: A new ruling states students can have only two schools listed on their resume.)
  5. Student performance on the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and pass rate—This percentage may be a clear indicator when determining the quality of the education provided by the university. Xavier University School of Medicine proudly reports more than 90% first time pass rate for the USMLE.
  6. Match rate for residency programs—This should be a critical factor when choosing a medical school, since your goal upon completing your residency is to practice medicine in the U.S.

4 Benefits of attending a Caribbean medical school

Aside from living in a beautiful, safe, tropical setting, there are many benefits to attending a Caribbean medical school. Here are some you may not be aware of:

  1. Cost—Tuition costs are considerably less expensive than those of public and private U.S. institutions. Depending on which university you choose, attending a Caribbean medical school can save you close to $100,000.
  2. Scholarships and financial aid—Unlike U.S. medical schools, Caribbean medical schools like Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba offer student loans, scholarships, and payment plan options to assist in meeting educational expenses.
  3. Most entrance exams are not required for admission—Most Caribbean medical schools, including Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba, do not require entrance exams, such as the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
  4. Complete rotations in the U.S.—Medical students have the opportunity to continue their clinical rotations in a U.S. teaching hospital.

When to apply to a Caribbean medical school

Students seeking to pursue a medical degree at a Caribbean medical school should begin the application process during their sophomore year of college. Applicants should expect the process to take approximately one year. Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba is among these institutions that accept applications on a rolling basis for all three of their semesters—beginning in January, May, and September.

Is becoming a doctor in your future? If you have a passion for medicine but aren’t sure how you can make your dream a reality, then now is the time to think about applying to a Caribbean medical school like Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba. Our graduates have obtained ACGME-accredited residency appointments in nearly every medical specialty and subspecialty at world-renowned teaching hospitals and leading medical centers across the U.S. and Canada. Apply today!