With only 40% of applicants to US medical schools and 25% of applicants to Canadian medical schools being offered enrollment each year, thousands of pre-med graduates are forced to look for alternative paths to achieving their dream of becoming physicians.
Many of these highly capable want-to-be docs look to international medical schools and specifically Caribbean medical schools that offer MD programs modeled after US med schools. And yet is still comes as a surprise to many people that that 1 in every 4 doctors currently practicing in the US is an International Medical Graduate (IMG), trained outside the US.
A recent article in the NY Times regarding Foreign Trained Doctors highlights the fact that, "All international graduates must go through an arduous regulatory process before practicing in this country, a process that includes verification of medical school diplomas and transcripts, residency training in American hospitals and the same national three-part licensing exams and specialty tests that their medical school counterparts in this country take."
The point the article goes on to make is that patient outcomes in their study didn't differ based on whether the physician was trained in the US or trained internationally, but differences could be correlated to being Board Certified as well as years since medical school graduation.
The infusion of IMGs into the physician workforce in the US prompted the American Medical Association to published a position paper on IMGs and concluded that, "Historically, IMGs have served patients in the United States in the highest professional manner and make up one-quarter (25.3 percent) of the physician work force, and more than one-quarter (27.8 percent) of resident physicians." The paper goes on to outline that "IMGs comprise more than 30 percent of the work force in primary care specialties; close to 40 percent of the physician work force in inner-city areas in large metropolitan cities and a significant portion of critical care physicians in this country."
When faced with the dilemma of missing the cut-off for enrollment in a North American school, we encourage future physicians to evaluate medical schools in the Caribbean and abroad that can best prepare you for achieving licensure in the US and Canada with criteria such as a listing in the World Health Organization and IMED/FAIMER, clinical experience integrated with the Basic Sciences, a high success rate on the USMLE Step 1 exam and core clerkships at ACGME-sponsored hospitals. Then ask, "Is my goal to get into a US medical school or is my goal to be a physician?" Your answer will put you in good company.