Stereotypes exist for the known as well as the unknown. Just like the UK, US or Canada are stereotypically the finest study destinations; a country like West Indies might not even be a choice to be considered by students —that is because of lack of awareness about places that are not mainstream. But, these off-the-chart destinations house many quality international institutes that offer a career pathway into a developed nation.
“West Indies is a part of Commonwealth and has a strategic position, located conveniently near both Europe and the United States. It was a British colony until the 1960s thus, most people are fluent in English; so language is not a problem for international students. This was one of the reasons why the founder of St George’s University decided to build an international campus in Grenada, West Indies,” says G Richard Olds, president, St George's University.
India has a dearth of qualified medical professionals and the intrinsic system is unable to match the supply with the demand due to limited seats available. Many students thus, turn to other countries for medical education. However, before choosing a programme abroad, whether at a popular or relatively less famous location, students should always do their research and most importantly inquire about the attrition rate and residency programmes they will be eligible for.
“Attrition rate refers to the total number of students enrolled in a medical programme graduating with an MD degree. Many international schools deceive students by enrolling them and informing them mid-way that their evaluation depends on their ability to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1. And if they cannot, they flunk them. These students, unfortunately, end up in a lot of debt and find no place to go. This is how these institutes control their pass out rate. We control the quality of graduates during initial screening itself and have a high pass out rate, which is quite close to the medical schools in America,” says Olds.
Most students want to know the opportunities to get into the US residencies after completing the course, as many Indian students aspire to practice medicine in the US. But, unlike the scenario in STEM education, historically, the US medical schools and residency programmes do not take a high proportion of non-US citizens. “Last year 94% of our students got into residencies within one-year of graduation in the US with 84% of them being non-US citizens. Thus, by studying in West Indies, Indian students can aim for jobs in the US or the UK and even other countries,” says Olds.
Accreditation is also another assuring factor of the medical schools here. “We are one of the four international universities in the world that are accredited by the US Department of Education. So that when US students come to study in West Indies, the education quality is equivalent to the quality back home,” says Olds.
To address non-uniformity in the accreditation of medical institutes in different countries the World Health Organisation (WHO) is also trying to get them all under the same umbrella by 2025.