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Common concerns our prospective students discuss with us

February 06, 2012
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This is the fifth in a series of blog posts in which we share some of the key concerns we discuss with our potential students. Q:  I hear foreign medical schools are not as good as American schools. Is this so? A: Today almost one in four doctors in the US is a graduate of a foreign medical school[1]. In 2009, US President Barack Obama said, “We’re not producing enough primary care physicians. The costs of medical education are so high that people feel that they’ve got to specialize.” Since then, little has changed. Traditional medical school is still expensive. Tuition costs are still rising. Because most medical students have to pay back large loans (a newly qualified doctor in the US typically owes more than $140,000) many medical graduates choose to go into more lucrative specialty fields. So family medicine is suffering a shortage of doctors. And this shortage is predicted to grow. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) the number of U.S. medical school students going into primary care has dropped 51.8% since 1997. By 2020, the AAFP is predicting a shortage of 40,000 family physicians. And yet, despite this huge pending skill shortage, there has been no significant increase in the intake of US medical schools in decades, while the number of qualified candidates increases every year. And while new medical schools are opening in the US to meet this shortfall, these new schools face a cap on government funding for medical hospital residencies and their students may struggle to obtain clinical rotations. Meanwhile 95% of Caribbean medical graduates go into primary care. Top Caribbean schools like Saint James are providing a valuable service to the US in filling this crucial skill gap. Furthermore, in 2010, only 8.9% of applicants to American medical schools were accepted[2]. Students have no option but to seek their medical education elsewhere and, as a leading Caribbean medical school, Saint James School of Medicine is an ideal alternative. At Saint James, you study the basic sciences for four semesters at one of our Caribbean schools and then spend most of your time as a student on clinical rotations in US hospitals. This strong focus on practical learning makes our graduates ready for the US clinical setting from day one of their medical career. Foreign medical graduates are vital to the future of healthcare in the United States, and archaic prejudices against a foreign medical education are fast being eroded as US hospitals see the caliber of students coming out of quality off shore medical schools like Saint James.  

[1] Source Heath Affairs, Health Department State Report, Amy Hagopian, Matthew J. Thompson, Emily Kaltenbach and L. Gary Hart.
[2] Source US News. In 2010, 521,876 applications were submitted to the 121 medical schools that reported entrance data to U.S. News. On average, just 8.9 percent of applicants were admitted.
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