Many of the 'Big Caribbean Medical Schools' want you to believe the old adage, 'You get what you pay for'. Does the end justify the means? Must you spend $200,000 plus in tuition (never mind fees, living expense, housing) in order to secure a Residency match? The answer is no. The cost of attending medical school ranges from less expensive options to very expensive options. While it's probably fair to suggest that the lowest cost options offer less student resources, what do the schools on the high end have to show for their price tags at rates that exceed top ranked U.S. schools like Johns Hopkins and Stanford Schools of Medicine?
The chart below offers a side by side comparison of the average four year tuition of U.S. medical schools, public and private, Trinity SOM and the 'Big Caribbean Medical schools'.
Another data point represented on the chart is the estimated number of students that enroll at each school on an annual basis. The programs with the highest tuition rates are also the programs with the largest numbers of students per class. The 'Big' schools have big student numbers and big attrition rates to go along with their big costs.
Trinity's tuition and annual student enrollment are aligned most closely with public U.S. medical schools. With a former U.S. medical school Dean as our leader, it's no wonder there are many aspects of our program that are comparable to many U.S. medical schools.
Can a medical school with tuition in the middle of the spectrum sufficiently prepare its students for success on the USMLE licensure exams and in the Residency match? Yes.
The Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and the National Residency Match Program (NRMP), track Residency match success by a number of factors including country where the Applicant attended medical school. Illustrated below from Charting Outcomes in the Match for IMGs, 2014, are the Residency match statistics by Caribbean country of medical school. Only countries with at least 50 U.S.IMGs (International Medical Graduates) were reported.
St. Vincent, where Trinity SOM is located, did not have 50 applicants participating in the Match in 2013.
Some of the countries, like Saba and Grenada, have one medical school (Saba and St. Georges respectively). Dominica has one predominant school (Ross) and one small school (All Saints). Others like Saint Kitts and Nevis have multiple schools contributing to the data. The statistics suggest U.S. citizens in Caribbean Medical Schools have the opportunity to achieve success in the Residency match and it does not have to come with a crippling financial burden.
COMPARE FINANCING OPTIONS
The key to financing your medical education is educating yourself about your choices. Cost of attendance is a major consideration for most future physicians. You don't have to compromise your preferred learning environment or limit your options to the few schools with Federal loans in order to get a quality education that is also affordable.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, over 80% of medical school graduates leave school with debt. The median amount of education debt carried by U.S. medical graduates in 2014 was $180,000. And while this is a significant amount, as a physician, your starting salary in most of the specialty fields should allow you to effectively manage the repayment process. However, graduates leaving school with debt well over $250,000, may be faced with a financial disincentive to go into a primary care field based on their ability to repay their loans, further limiting their opportunities in the Residency match process. So while it may seem obvious, it bears repeating that the less debt you take on in medical school, the less debt you’ll have when you graduate from medical school.
There are additional ways to reduce the financial burden of medical school before it builds. Applicants to Trinity SOM have opportunities to qualify for Scholarships, Grants and Awards that will reduce their tuition, in most cases, every term for the four-year program. Benefits also exist for U.S. Military Veterans in the form of the Post 9-11 GI Bill.
When considering your medical school options, compare wisely. Look at Student outcomes, if you can achieve residency success while maintaining a manageable amount of education debt, you will have more options as you choose your specialty and determine your repayment goals.