The Caribbean can be a great place to pursue your medical education, with some excellent fully accredited medical schools to choose from in a bucolic island setting. While according to a recent paper by ‘Medical Teacher’, the Caribbean has more than 50 operating medical schools, it is important that you look at several points of consideration before you decide which Caribbean medical school to select.

Is the institution accredited?

When choosing the right medical school, you should check its list of approvals, accreditations and licenses from international bodies to determine if you can pursue your career in the USA or Canada. Try to select a university that is recognized by the medical education boards of countries that you aim to work in.

The Saba University School of Medicine is located on the Dutch island of Saba. The medical school has an impressive list of accreditations from bodies such as the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the medical boards of California and Florida.

Does the school provide financial assistance?
Attending medical school can be expensive and some offer financial assistance to help students meet their obligations. Before applying for medical school, find out if they offer any scholarships or if financial assistance programs are available.

Saba University has been approved by the US Department of Education to participate in the ‘William D. Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford’ and the ‘Grad PLUS Loan’ programs. The school has also received approval from the Canadian Ministry of Education for federal and provincial loans. Saba students also have the option to apply for private loans.

What’s the curriculum like?
Although most schools in the Caribbean cover similar materials, there can be differences in the structure of the curriculum. Therefore, while preparing for medical school, you should select the one that matches your priorities and style of learning.

For instance, if you learn more from a lecture-heavy teaching style, select a school that offers a more traditional curriculum. On the other hand, if you learn from physically doing things, you’ll benefit from a school that offers substantial hands-on experience.

Saba University offers an integrated curriculum which includes a Basic Sciences program covering theoretical concepts and in-house practical training as well as a Clinical Medicine program which includes 72 weeks of core and elective rotations in hospitals. These rotations allow you to apply your classroom knowledge in real-life scenarios. In addition, the class sizes at Saba are small which gives students more one-on-one time with their professors.

What’s the USMLE first-time pass rate for Step 1?
The answer to this question largely determines the quality of education you are likely to receive. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 exam assesses students on their understanding and ability to apply different concepts with a special focus on principles underlying health, modes of therapy and diseases.

Passing the USMLE Step 1 exam on your first attempt is important and enables you to progress smoothly into your clinical rotations. A high score on the USMLE Step One exam can also contribute toward your success in securing your desired residency. Passing the USMLE Step 1 exam is mandatory for practicing medicine in the USA. Most schools publicize their first-time pass rates on their website and it’s important to select a school that has a pass rate of 95% or higher. Between 2015 - 2019, Saba University had a USMLE first-time pass rate of 99%.

When evaluating medical schools you should also consider the clinical rotations that the school offers, looking closely to make sure they are at ACGME- approved teaching hospitals. Your medical school research should also take into consideration the facilities offered on-campus such as libraries, gyms and student accommodations.

Saba University’s motto is ‘Excellence through Education’ and it’s the perfect destination for aspiring physicians. Saba’s excellent clinical rotation program allows you to put your theoretical knowledge to practice in real-life settings and learn from experienced doctors. Click here to find out more about the medical education experience at Saba University.