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‘It’s Hard to Get Out’: How Caribbean Medical Schools Fail Students

Last summer, when Dr. Sneha Sheth went online to start filling out applications for residents. This is the next step of after-school medical training. She was extremely disappointed.

Of the 500 housing projects she is considering Nearly half were identified as hostile to international medical students like her by the Match a Resident website, which helps overseas medical students complete the US residency application process. She came in September and spent several months. Then, suffering from rejection from several programs arose. and no response from others

“There are 50 percent programs that don’t need you. It’s a scary feeling,” said Dr. Cheth, 28, who recently graduated from a Caribbean medical school. “It’s like if they don’t want you then who will.”

The grievances of the matchmaking process This required graduates to join a program where they could begin practicing medicine, leading Dr. Sheth to wonder if she was stupid enough to enroll in a Caribbean medical school. She spent tens of thousands of dollars. But ended up closing the American residency program. (Even though she just arrived somewhere in Canada)

In the 1970s, several medical schools began operating throughout the Caribbean. Most of them are American students who are not accepted to US medical schools. There are about 80 students today. Schools are different from US schools. Most of them are for-profit institutions. with income in excess of tuition and fees awarded to investors.

Admission standards at Caribbean schools are usually less stringent than those in the US. Many people do not consider scores on standardized medical college admissions tests to be a factor in their admissions. The acceptance rate in some places is 10 times higher than that of American schools. They still do not guarantee a clear career path. The housing match rate for international medical graduates is about 60 percent, compared to over 94 percent for US graduates.

In 2019, medical sociologist Tania Jenkins studied the composition of the US residency program and found that more than a third of the largest university internal medicine programs in the country The housing population is predominantly comprised of US medical graduates. Caribbean medical school students are matched with housing at a 30 percent lower rate than their U.S. counterparts.

“U.S. medical school graduates I feel uncomfortable,” Ms Jenkins said. “Caribbean medical students experience turbulence. They have many obstacles that must be overcome in order to get a chance at a reputable and inferior training institute.”

The challenges facing Caribbean medical students in their career advancement raise questions about the quality of their education. But with the rapidly growing number of medical schools worldwide, from approximately 1,700 in 2000 to 3,500 today, monitoring and reporting on the quality of medical schools abroad is a difficult task.

in recent years Medical educators and accreditations are increasingly making concerted efforts to assess the credibility of those institutions. Its goal is to inform applicants about subpar Caribbean schools that charge tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. and sometimes fails to hold office. their students for career success.

Most such efforts are led by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. which review and provide credentials for graduates of foreign medical schools This includes documentation of test scores and educational background. In 2010, the committee announced an initiative that required all physicians applying for certificates to graduate from an accredited medical school. The group also said it would take a closer look at the standards for organizations accrediting medical schools around the world. The new rules will come into effect by 2024.

The commission has already sanctioned two Caribbean medical schools: the University of Science, Arts and Technology School of Medicine in Montserrat and the Atlantic University School of Medicine in Antigua and Barbuda. The group declined to provide credentials to graduates from those schools. said that the school “Very bad in terms of how they treated students and presented themselves incorrectly,” Montserrat’s medical school sued the board. But the case was dismissed in US federal court. Faculty of Medicine, University of Science Arts and Technology in Montserrat did not respond to requests for comment.

Dr William Pinsky said: “I am very concerned that students will be exploited by schools that may not provide accurate information on how they will study. And what will their chances be when they graduate?”

He said he hopes students will have better protection by 2024, when the accreditation body plans to complete assessments of all international medical schools through a more rigorous accreditation process.

One of the main accreditation bodies for Caribbean medical schools is the Caribbean Accreditation Agency for Medical Education and Other Health Professions, known as CAAM-HP. Lorna Parkins, Executive Director of the organization. It said some of the key factors the Group considered in refusing the certification were high turnover rates and low pass rates.

credit…By Yasien Eltigani

But Caribbean schools sometimes incorrectly display accreditation status on their websites, Ms. Parkins added. She sometimes hears from students struggling to move out of low-quality schools.

“It’s my daily concern,” Ms Parkins said. “I know students have very high loans. and their families made great sacrifices to educate them.”

Applying to medical school in the United States requires a certain level of knowledge: Methods of Study for the MCAT; How to apply for a loan and how to make yourself able to compete in selected numbers Applicants with little access to resources and counseling are at a disadvantage, and sometimes less aware of the disadvantages of international medical education.

Dr Yasian Eltikani, 27, who is a Sudanese and immigrant from the United Arab Emirates to the United States, said he had little help in navigating the barriers of applying to medical school. He enrolled in only nine schools. All in Texas Without realizing it, most American students apply for a wider range of courses. And was rejected by all schools two years later when he saw a Facebook ad for St George’s University in Grenada. he decided to apply

looking back He said he would like to enroll in an American school again. Instead of going the Caribbean route Although he was able to enter the residency program which he just started But he found the process to be worrying.

“If you lag behind in medical school in the United States, Your matching chances are good. While at a medical school in the Caribbean You are at risk,” he said. I don’t have much in this approach.”

Caribbean medical school administrators say their intentions are straightforward: They aim to expand opportunities for students to go to medical school. especially those from racial backgrounds. socioeconomic and diverse geography to include those who may not be pursuing a traditional medical career

“Medical schools in the United States There are more applicants than they know how to do,” said Neil Simon, president of the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. “So why would they oppose medical schools that are being approved and educating a more diverse student population? ? Don’t you think they will welcome us with open arms?”

Mr Simon said he was well aware of the bias that AUA graduates face while applying for residential positions in the United States. And he considered the stigmatization unfounded. He added that international medical graduates are more likely to study family medicine and work in disadvantaged areas. especially in rural communities

But experts say the expansion of for-profit medical schools doesn’t always give students the best interest. Medical Education Coordinating Committee which accredited schools in the United States It didn’t recognize any for-profit schools until 2013, when it changed its stance following an antitrust order that the American Bar Association endorses for-profit law schools. Among medical educators Doubts persist over the for-profit model.

“If medical students are seen as a dollar sign More than trainees who need a lot of investment, support and advice. That will fundamentally change the training experience of these students and their educational style,” Ms Jenkins said.

Some students at Caribbean medical schools say the quality of their education has declined even more in recent years. Because some campuses are faced with natural disasters.

In 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, which houses the campus of the Ross University School of Medicine. The school decided to provide accommodation for students on a boat docked near St. Kitts. for some students This sounds like an adventure. But as soon as they reached the ship They realized that this ship was not rigorously educated.

With a few study spots or power outlets on board, first-year Kayla wakes up at 2am every day to claim where she can study that day. (Kyla was asked to state only her real name so she could share her experiences freely.) Her exams were held in a room full of windows overlooking the ocean waves. She and her classmates said that if they looked up from the test, They will immediately feel nauseous. She couldn’t take Dramamine because that only made her tired even worse. Some of her classmates left before the semester break because they couldn’t cope with the conditions on board.

“We understand that leniency poses challenges for everyone,” a spokesperson for Adtalem Global Education, the parent organization of Ross University School of Medicine, said in an email. Take a leave of absence until university facilities are restored.”

But the shared challenges of these schools have led to the saying, “It’s very easy to get into school in the Caribbean,” said Abiola Ogunbi, a graduate of Trinity Medical Sciences University in St. Vincent. “But it’s hard to leave.”

As certification standards evolve Ms Jenkins said one of the most important ways to protect students is to ensure transparency from schools. “People should be trained with their eyes open,” she said.

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