Foreign Med schools??

From what little I’ve read this may be opening a BIG can of worms but nevertheless I’m curious. I’ve noticed a fair number of people now attending off shore med schools. In particular the caribbian islands. I know very little about this topic. ALthough there seems to be a big debate between those going to one school versus another.

Has anyone had any experience with or know about these schools? What kind of medical education do these students receive? Is the program the same as here in the states. How are these schools and their graduates generally regarded by the medical profession?

It seems academically speaking,these schools may not be quite as difficult to get into.

But would anyone out there in OPM actually consider attending one of these schools?

I would think the best schools to attend are stateside or am I just biased. I’m guessing schools in the US, UK, and Canada are probably all on about a par with each other


For forums specific to foreign medical schools you might want to check out the international section of SDN or

I’d certainly consider it - For several reasons. I’m not a typical pre-med (retired AF pilot, astronautical engineer, masters in mathematics, etc). I was not a pre-med in college (30 years ago), I became an engineer. So, Im taking biology/org chem classes at my local Community College.
Waiting for the normal med school admissions cycle will delay my becoming a physician at least one more year, so I’m going to apply to the “big three” Carib schools as soon as I have the pre-reqs completed, and start med school 4 months or so after that. With not taking summers off, I expect to be a physician no more than 4 years (more like 38 months) after that.
There are (right now) three schools that are, in the eyes of the California Medical Board, legitimate - St. Georges in Grenada, Ross in Domininca, and American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten. All of them offer US clinical rotations, and all can produce fine physicians. BTW, rumor has it that SABA (on Saba Island) will soon be approved by California as well, time will tell.
There are some medical schools in the world outside of the US that have prestige equal to any in the US. Several schools in Canada (McMaster, McGill, Queens to name a few), in England (the english schools, not the US schools in england), in Israel (the Technion, Ben Gurion, Sackler) and some schools in Australia are as good as any in the US.
Given my druthers, would I prefer to attend UCLA (my engineering alma mater) or Mayo Medical School? You bet. I’d even like to attend Ben Gurion in Israel. But, realistically, the chances of my admission into those schools is not great (even with a 30+ MCAT). And the time delay is just not acceptable to me.
And, 5 years from now when I’m in my PGY-1 EM residency, I doubt that my patients will ask what school I went to. If they do, I’ll tell them that I went to the school that taught me to save their life.

Hi Randy,
The offshore medical schools are easier to get into but finding your way back into the United States for practice and residency may be difficult. Some residency programs will not accept foreign medical grads no matter what board scores or grades. Some program directors feel that FMGs, even US citizens who attend foreign medical schools, dilute the quality of their programs. Other program directors don’t care so you have to be prepared to face some discrimination in the present climate.
Some foreign medical schools do not prepare you well enough in the basic sciences to pass USMLE. The pass rate for FMGs is much lower than for American grads. For some specialties, just passing USMLE Step I is not enough. You need to have a specific score in order to be competitive. This is particularly true for anesthesia, radiology,optho, surgical specialties and derm. Even specialties like pathology have gotten more competitive in the past couple of years and FMGs have found themselves scrambling for preliminary slots where they work hard and receive little after completing their hard work.
I have a good friend who graduated from St. Matthew’s School of Medicine after completing two years in the United States at an allopathic medical school. She opted for transferring to St. Matthew’s because she could attend school for free because of her dual citizenship. She ended up failing one of the USMLE steps and not being eligible for the scramble during Match week. Fortunately for her, she was able to get a preliminary position in Internal Medicine in an unfilled program outside of the Match and the scramble but she has not been able to match into OB-Gyn, her original specialty of interest despite good evaluations and a very high level of practice for the past two years. Her options at this point are to attempt to find a categorical Internal Medicine slot or try to get into Family Practice where she would get to do some deliveries.
Other problems exist for people who opt for offshore medical schools such as inability to find funding to pay for medical school. Some schools ask for a hefty sum up front even before you have taken a single class. You also want to be sure that your foreign medical school is fully accredited and that the residency review committee here in the United States will recognize your degree. You might find yourself with thousands of dollars of debt with a medical degree that is worthless in this country. There are a couple of folks at UVa who are working as nurses who have medical degrees from offshore schools that are not recognized in this country. Sure, they are making money but they are unable to practice medicine because the RRC will not recognize their degree. They opted for nursing school.
Look into the accreditation of the offshore school that interests you. Speak to some graduates who are practicing physicians in this country and find out what they had to do to gain liscensure. Find out how much money is required up front and what you get for that money. Schools that have linkages with clinical affiliates here in the United States offer the best chances for you to practice once you have graduated. You also need to be prepared to face outright discrimination by some residency programs.
If everything checks out and you have adequate funding, attending a foreign medical school is better than not attending medical school at all if your dream is becoming a physician.
Good luck and get as much info as possible

I’ve tried for hours to try to find out if one could get a residency once Graduated from St. Chris in England. I have been unable to find out if it is approved by the Residency Review Committee as you stated above. Is there some way to find that out?

Hi Randy,
My 2 cents.
The quality of foreign med schools really depends on the foreign medical school.
New York state is accepting many FMGs and were it not for them, some PG positions would go unfilled. At a time when the residency work hour bill passed, there is a need for more residency positions rather than less.
I would choose Sackler, Technicon, Ben Gurion, SG, and the med school in Quadalajara as a few of the ones I know about. The facility, in the Negev, is great and they have a strong link with Columbia P&S. Beersheva is a wonderful place and while less ‘active’ than Tel Aviv or even Jerusalem, it is also safer. If you would like more information about the Israeli schools, just let me know.
That said, I would think that going to a US med school has distinct advantages. I think one owes it to him/herself to try once in the US before applying offshore.
Again, these issues are so personal that I would only caution you to be skeptical of those who profess to know the answers.
Best of luck,

Thanks Natalie, I appreciate your thoughts and advice.
From the little I know, it seems that while there may be a few schools out there that are probably OK. Some are probably worthless. Nevertheless,a person may not want to make that their first choice, unless as you say, it’s a foreign school…or not at all. Sounds as though some foreign schools may make the initial part of the journey (getting into Med school), a bit easier and quicker, but their washout rate and later on obtaining your choice of residency may be tougher.
I think it may be one thing if it’s an absolute last resort. Personally my first choice might be Indiana University School of Medicine. While it’s certainly no guarantee, since I’m an Indiana resident that helps hugely. I graduated from IU (Lo those many years ago!) Not that that carries any weight whatsoever but at least it doesn’t hurt anything.
I suppose it’s tempting to think that in a shorter time frame a person could get into medicine quicker going the foreign route. In my particular situation it probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference. I’m believe I will have to repeat virtually all pre-med requirements as well as taking some upper level science classes in an attempt to re-establish a GPA.

Again, it is much much better to take your time and do it right then waste a ton of $$$ and possibly end up doing something that you regret. The washout rate for any of the Caribbean schools is huge make sure you know your facts, most of the students end up doing poorly in USMLE and retaking. It is extremely difficult to get a position here for residency and it will probably become harder year after year. Waiting one more year is nothing for a non-trad when you are already non-trad anyways. Now do not get me wrong if you have attempted to gain acceptance here and cannot get in then sure maybe offshore is the answer but heck at least try to get in here. To the pilot, you can get into school here for there are tons of us getting in to top notch school and getting full rides so do not think that you cannot get in. Also one year of “extra” practice that you would gain in offshore may be lost if you end up having to retake the USMLE due to poor instruction…buyer beware…

Boy where to start. First, I attend St. Christopher’s in England. I decided to come here because of many reasons, least of which were I had family considerations to take care of and this was a way of getting that issue dealt with. Second, I got in. Third, I had friends here that were doing very well.
As with ANY foreign medical school, you should follow all the ACGME rules to the letter in order to not screw up your licensure opportunities. You should also look at the not filled match list and see that there are tons of spots in Primary areas just waiting for someone to fill them. I already have one program, closely affiliated with the school, offering me an off match spot, but its in something I do not want to do (FP). If the school has good political connections and can get you trials in good hospitals, then your chances of getting good spot are better. We had someone match in Opthalmology just recently and we do have over 40% go into Surgery.
I could care less what others may say. I am old enough to believe that this was all on me anyway. It mattered not that I could NOT be attending lectures as most of my US counterparts did and pass, or that I go to lecture here and WILL pass. Those of us that care, work harder than most. We don’t expect anything to be handed to us and we work that way.
It is true that there are SOME programs that will look the other way when they find out you did not come from USC, EVMS, or Georgetown. There are some that are damn glad to have you. Find those. It is not different that applying thru the AMCAS for Medical school anyway. Some schools were bound to reject you. Were you going to sit outside and protest? Of course, not! You were going to move on to the school that wanted you. Same here. There will be some even in OPM that will turn their nose down at you. Don’t be discouraged. Just work harder than they do. It will pay off. Remember, the US is not the only country to teach medicine. Just understand, some of the major issues deal with getting your license. That is something a US grad doesn’t necessarily deal with unless they are from a US school and fail the boards 4 times. (True story)
If you decide to choose this route, you may email me privately. Nothing is perfect, but everything isn’t what it seems sometimes.