Ok, so you’ve applied to U.S. Medical Schools multiple times and can’t seem to get in. Or maybe you simply desire a new adventure and you want a taste of the island life. I get it. There are many different reasons why people decide to apply to international medical schools, and whatever that reason is, its the right reason. For me, I had applied to many U.S. medical schools, but I had trouble with my interview skills. I then applied to International schools and got accepted.
Let me start by saying, there is nothing wrong with going to an international medical school. Many of these schools have been around for decades and have garnered strong reputations for producing stellar medical students and physicians. I simply encourage you to do your research before applying to an international program. Look at their data. Do their students match into the residencies of their choice? What type of clinical experiences do their students receive. Ask about the curriculum. Reach out to other IMGs (International Medical Graduates) to see how their experience was. I’ll soon be writing piece about my own experience as an IMG, but until then, lets talk about how to get in.
The requirements to get into a Caribbean medical school are no different than any U.S. school. Check out our post, Pre-Med: How to Get Into Medical School for the general info.
The first thing you need to do to apply is submit your transcript. If it has been longer than 10 years since you took the pre-requisite classes or if you did not get good grades in the courses, then consider retaking all of the pre-requisite classes. If you only need a few of the pre-requisite classes or only struggled with a few of them you can simply retake the ones that you had problems with. It is important that you score well in these courses because you are competing against other candidates.
The next step is to take the MCAT and submit your MCAT scores. If you previously took the MCAT and your scores are still valid, these scores can be submitted. However, if your scores are older than 2-3 years old, you may need to take the exam again. Before paying the $315 to take the exam, check with the school to see if they will accept your scores. This decision varies by program.
Will my job experience in the medical field make the MCAT easier?
The MCAT is a very challenging exam that focuses on the subjects, General Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English and Biochemistry. The information on the exam is not practical medicine. As a result, your past work experience is not likely to help you on this exam. As an Nurse Practitioner and former Nurse I did not feel as though this helped my performance on the exam at all.
Does the MCAT score matter if I’m Applying to an International School?
Yes, it matters. You should still try to score as high as possible, but you may still be able to get into an international medical school without having a tremendously high score. International Schools give strong consideration to your life experiences as well as your desire to become a physician. However, there is very little that makes up for poor MCAT scores or poor grades. You still have to do well. All that said…Even if your score is modest STILL APPLY.
Will I get credits for my experience in the medical field to graduate Medical School earlier?
Unfortunately, no. Everyone begins medical school with zero credits, and everyone is required to take the same courses. This is because regardless of your background everyone pretty much starts at the same level in medical school. There are some people who may have an edge in particular courses if they have a PhD in Biochemistry or Anatomy or something like that. However, there’s so much information that is learned in medical school that any experience that anyone has can only provide a tiny amount of benefit. I remember thinking that being an NP would help me outperform my peers, and admittedly I do feel as though it helped me during the clinical years as I was already comfortable in that environment, but during the basic science years, I was just as clueless as the rest of my peers. Its a humbling experience to say the least.
Do I have to go to the Islands to Interview?
No, most likely you will not have to go to the islands to do your interview. Often times interviews are done over the phone or Skype. Sometimes they will do in-person interviews in a location close to where you live. I interviewed at multiple international programs and experienced both types of interviews. The phone interview is usually with a group of people over the phone who ask you questions. I liked this interview format better because I didn’t have to worry about my appearance over the phone. it made me feel more comfortable and made it easier for me to simply talk and be myself. The in-person interviews you have to dress up in a suit, and you meet with one person or a group for about 30-min to an hour at a private location. Regardless of the interview format, this is the perfect time to ask questions about housing, financial aid, the curriculum, etc.
These are the most common questions I’ve gotten about the IMG application process. Please let me know if you have any other questions!
I like to say, Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed! If you don’t at least apply, how will you know whether or not you can get in? Have faith in yourself, and most importantly trust that the Lord will get you to where you belong. Remember, Peter stepped out of the boat on faith, despite his fears, and when he let his fears overcome him he began to sink, but when he focused on Jesus he found his peace. Focus on what He has for you. You can do this! Don’t let your mind, your fears talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Get out the boat!!