Sunday, July 21, 2024

A Information to the Offshore Training Trade within the Caribbean

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Drugs is a fiercely aggressive area of training. The common acceptance fee at medical colleges in the US is 5.5 percent and might be as little as 1.4 % at high establishments like Stanford College College of Drugs. In Canada, some 12,000 students competed over fewer than 3,000 obtainable slots at medical colleges within the 2020/21 tutorial 12 months. This shortage of open seats causes many U.S. and Canadian college students to hunt medical training overseas. 1000’s of scholars go away the U.S. and Canada to review medication in Eire, the UK, or in English-taught applications in nations like Poland.

Many of those worldwide college students don’t plan to work overseas however intend to return dwelling and acquire medical licensure within the U.S. or Canada. Precisely what number of is tough to estimate, however 7,864 out of the 12,912, or three out of each 5, worldwide medical graduates (IMGs) who utilized for scientific residency coaching by the U.S. Nationwide Resident Matching Program in 2022 had been U.S. citizens. For these college students, a overseas MD diploma is another pathway to turning into a doctor if the diploma is accepted. Graduates of overseas colleges which are authorized by the U.S. Instructional Fee for Overseas Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are eligible to enroll in accredited scientific internship applications and sit for licensing exams within the U.S.

A large share of Individuals and Canadians who research medication overseas attend so-called offshore medical colleges. These colleges had been arrange in numerous Caribbean nations and territories for the aim of teaching worldwide medical college students, primarily Individuals who couldn’t achieve entry to medical applications at dwelling. The Caribbean basin has the biggest focus of a lot of these colleges worldwide. Some Caribbean nations now have the very best variety of medical colleges per capita. The small island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, as an illustration, has a inhabitants of 48,000 however 5 medical universities, or round one medical faculty for each 9,600 individuals. Canada, compared, has 17 medical colleges for a inhabitants of round 40 million, or about one medical faculty for each 2.35 million individuals.

A graphic depicting the percentage of licensed physicians in the U.S. by country and region of education in 2022.

For credential evaluators and licensing professionals, the MD levels awarded by offshore medical universities (OMUs) might be troublesome to evaluate. Not a single OMU is acknowledged by the U.S. Liaison Committee on Medical Training (LCME) or the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Colleges (CACMS)—the designated accrediting our bodies for medical colleges within the U.S. and Canada. The variety of OMUs has additionally spiked lately. Gamers within the offshore market embody a couple of established, well-known suppliers with a observe report for the reason that Seventies but in addition a variety of newer copycat colleges of various success. Many offshore suppliers have simply sprung up lately; dependable data on these colleges might be laborious to seek out, so the standard of their training is troublesome to gauge.

This relative lack of know-how may recommend that offshore medical training is a fringe phenomenon, however it’s something however. By some accounts, extra scientific residency positions within the U.S. are at present stuffed by graduates of enormous OMUs “than by these of any single U.S. medical school.” Virtually 49,000 licensed physicians within the U.S. had been educated in Caribbean nations and territories. The variety of IMGs from the Caribbean has elevated by 115 % since 2010, and most of them—67 %—are U.S. citizens.

These statistics mirror that the offshore business within the Caribbean has develop into de facto an integral a part of the medical training system of the U.S. and Canada, pushed by the doctor shortages in these nations. Graduates of many OMUs are usually accepted for scientific residency coaching and medical licensing within the two nations. U.S. residents learning at authorized OMUs are eligible for federal student loans. In Canada, likewise, many OMUs are authorized by the Medical Council of Canada, and college students at these establishments can apply for federal financial assistance.

In essence, the unhappy demand for medical training in North America has resulted in an accelerated outsourcing development. Rising numbers of physicians now obtain their fundamental medical training at abroad colleges —at establishments which have much less stringent admission necessities and function underneath totally different rules and high quality assurance requirements than medical colleges within the U.S. and Canada.

To facilitate the understanding of this distinctive type of transnational training, this text describes the event of offshore medical training within the Caribbean and gives an outline of OMU traits and explains why they’re prevalent within the Caribbean area. It features a tally of current OMUs, in addition to a survey of their curricula, admission requirements, accreditation standing, and acceptance inside the medical occupation within the U.S. and Canada. Additionally mentioned are upcoming regulatory adjustments concerning the popularity of OMUs within the U.S.

A graphic depicting the number and percentage of international medical graduates in the U.S. that were educated in the Caribbean between 2010 and 2022.

What Are Offshore Medical Universities?

OMUs are medical colleges that predominantly cater to college students from different nations than the one wherein they function. Many OMUs within the Caribbean actually admit native college students from Caribbean nations and should even present scholarships for them, however worldwide college students make up the majority of their scholar our bodies. The inhabitants base of a few of the small island nations within the Caribbean couldn’t maintain the disproportionately giant variety of medical colleges that exist there.

There may be little ambiguity concerning the goal market of most OMUs. The web sites and advertising and marketing supplies of those establishments are comparable and normally tailor-made to college students from the U.S. and Canada and, to a lesser extent, worldwide college students from different nations. Many OMUs prominently promote on their web sites the scientific residency match charges within the U.S. and cross charges of their college students within the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Some additionally present data on the way to receive monetary help within the U.S. and Canada. Testimony to their market focus, a number of OMUs preserve bodily workplaces within the U.S.

Whereas dependable demographic data on OMU college students isn’t obtainable in lots of circumstances, it’s clear that almost all of them are North Individuals, respectively U.S. or Canadian residents. Ross College College of Drugs in Barbados, one of many greatest OMUs, states on its web site that 98 % of its 3,000 college students are U.S. and Canadian citizens or residents. Likewise, some 80 percent of scholars at one other huge OMU, the American College of the Caribbean College of Drugs (AUC) in Sint Maarten, are U.S. residents and residents, whereas one other 8 % are Canadians, and a pair of.5 % come from Nigeria. In one other instance, about 68 % of the 1,000 college students of the Saint James College of Drugs, which operates campuses in Anguilla and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, are U.S. citizens.

Some OMUs more and more cater not solely to Individuals and Canadians, but in addition to college students from India and different South Asian nations, the place entry to medical training is much more restricted. These establishments could specify Indian {qualifications} amongst their entry necessities and promote their recognition by the Nationwide Medical Fee of India. Some require the Indian medical Nationwide Eligibility Cum Entrance Take a look at (NEET) for admission.

There seems to be a sure hierarchy of OMUs wherein “college students from North America sometimes attend older, extra established colleges which can supply an academic program of North American requirements and a greater likelihood of matching right into a residency program,” whereas college students from rising economies “primarily attend new and developing schools.” Most of the newer OMUs are typically far more reasonably priced. However whereas the precise make-up of the coed physique of those colleges is unknown, there’s little doubt that they predominantly recruit worldwide college students who search a pathway to residency and employment within the U.S. and Canada or medical licensure again dwelling.

This give attention to educating worldwide college students distinguishes OMUs from common “home” medical colleges that practice physicians to work in native labor markets. The latter embody the College of the West Indies in Jamaica, or most medical colleges in additional populous Caribbean islands like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Medical colleges in these jurisdictions, in addition to most faculties within the U.S. and Canada, are sometimes schools inside bigger multi-disciplinary universities, whereas OMUs are usually stand-alone establishments specializing in MD applications.

One other distinction is that almost all OMUs educate the American medical curriculum, in English. OMU applications are usually designed to organize college students for the USMLE or the same Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE). Even OMUs that actively recruit college students from different nations, similar to India or the U.Ok., supply the identical four-year postgraduate MD program, entered after a bachelor’s diploma or three years of undergraduate research, as discovered within the U.S. and Canada. Medical applications in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, India, Nigeria, the U.Ok., or the West Indies, compared, are normally five- or six-year undergraduate applications.

That mentioned, many OMUs additionally supply comparable built-in MD applications, that are sometimes five- to six-year fast-track undergraduate applications designed for highschool graduates. Some OMUs award an undergraduate diploma in medical sciences en passant to the MD diploma.

Why the Caribbean?

The Caribbean area is effectively fitted to OMUs. It’s geographically near the U.S. and comparatively simple to achieve. Most of the small, bodily remoted nations and territories of the Caribbean have an curiosity in internet hosting offshore colleges. The type of “medical training tourism” OMUs give rise to might be very useful for the small economies of the Caribbean when it comes to taxation, employment technology, import duties, and consumption by college students and workers. By some accounts, Grenada derives as a lot as 19 percent of its GDP from the presence of a big OMU, St. George’s College College of Drugs (SGU).

In 2019, the prime minister of the Bahamas praised the opening of the Western Atlantic College of Drugs as a significant improvement that might diversify the island’s economic system and “inject lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} into the native economic system over time, and supply direct and oblique alternatives for scores of residents.” Given such advantages, some Caribbean nations actively search to draw OMUs with tax incentives.

Entry into the Caribbean market is comparatively simple with comparatively few bureaucratic hurdles for the institution of offshore colleges. Necessities for medical colleges there don’t all the time examine with these mandated in additional developed training techniques. Some islands have too small a inhabitants to also have a larger training sector to talk of. There may be consequently restricted expertise with regulating tertiary training and no well-established course of for the standard management of universities.

In lots of circumstances, OMUs usually are not required to acquire formal accreditation by nationwide or exterior accreditation our bodies. Native governments are likely to impose few tutorial rules on OMUs, since they principally practice worldwide college students who don’t keep within the area. Past these regulatory benefits, most Caribbean islands supply an English-speaking setting. The tropical setting and palm-fringed seashores of those islands are pure promoting factors as effectively.

OMUs within the Caribbean first emerged within the late Seventies when SGU started operations within the small island nation of Grenada. Based in 1976 by an American entrepreneur, SGU stays the one medical faculty on this island immediately. It turned a mannequin of what has been referred to as “second-chance medical schools” that take in Individuals locked out of the U.S. system. The establishment was briefly thrust into the highlight through the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, which was justified, partially, with the necessity to defend the 600 American medical college students then current on the island. SGU was capable of capitalize on this episode and improve enrollment within the wake of this sudden fame.

At this time, SGU stays probably the most well-liked OMUs within the Caribbean with over 1,000 medical graduates annually—a big quantity in contrast with most U.S. colleges. It’s one in all a choose group of OMUs which are also known as the “huge 4”—the oldest and most respected offshore suppliers amongst a number of dozens of much less profitable OMUs. The opposite three establishments on this group are the Ross College College of Drugs (based in 1978), the American College of the Caribbean College of Drugs (based in 1978), and the Saba College College of Drugs on the small Dutch island of Saba, based in 1992.

For-Revenue Suppliers

Medical training within the U.S. and Canada is generally supplied by public or non-profit non-public establishments. All of Canada’s 17 medical colleges are public suppliers. Within the U.S., for-profit medical training was largely banned for a lot of the 20 th century—a proven fact that helped spawn the arrival of offshore suppliers within the extra permissive setting of the Caribbean. This ban on proprietary medical colleges was lifted in the 1990s, which implies for-profit medical training is now on the rise within the U.S., however it’s nonetheless uncommon.

OMUs within the Caribbean, in distinction, are nearly all non-public, for-profit schools. Some are owned by giant training companies like Adtalem Global Education (previously DeVry Training Group), which at present runs the American College of the Caribbean, and the Ross College Colleges of Drugs and Veterinary Drugs. One other U.S.-based agency, R3 Training Inc., described as a “holding firm that acquires and manages for-profit educational institutions,” operates the Saba College College of Drugs, the Medical College of the Americas (St. Kitts and Nevis), and St. Matthew’s College within the Cayman Islands. The Indian Manipal International Well being and Training group has made a foray into the offshore market within the Americas as effectively. It acquired the American College of Antigua in 2008.

The revenue margins of profitable OMUs are substantial. The American College of the Caribbean bought for US$235 million in 2011. It generated an estimated US$50 million in annual revenues at the time. OMUs have been described as purely “vocational colleges”—they typically don’t conduct scientific or scientific analysis. And the scientific residency coaching that’s a part of the medical curriculum normally doesn’t happen within the Caribbean however primarily in hospitals within the U.S. and elsewhere. Which means OMUs have fewer overhead prices for laboratories or scientific and analysis amenities. Some larger, extra profitable OMUs like SGU even have giant numbers of scholars, far exceeding common registration within the U.S., the place most medical colleges enroll well below 1,000 students.

Nevertheless, many OMUs are small establishments with lower than 50 graduates per 12 months. The financial viability of those smaller colleges is much less sure and a few fold shortly. Eligibility for U.S. federal scholar loans is a key issue for monetary success and sustains the revenues of many OMUs. A DeVry govt instructed The Hill in 2005 that 80 % of American college students at Ross College obtained federal monetary support and that the college processed US$53 million in federal loans throughout that year alone.

For college students, training at OMUs might be very costly, even by U.S. requirements. The full outlay for OMUs usually contains giant administrative charges along with tuition. The general prices of medical training rely upon various factors, together with housing bills, time spent to finish this system, and whether or not college students pay in-state or out-of-state charges. Charges charged for scientific rotations are sometimes larger at OMUs than these for the preliminary, preclinical levels of the MD program. Annual price comparisons are additionally sophisticated by the truth that some colleges have semester techniques whereas others observe a trimester calendar, which OMUs generally run through the preclinical part.

Nevertheless, the entire quantity of scholar debt is an approximate indicator of price. In line with the American Medical Affiliation, “median scholar mortgage debt accrued for attending an offshore medical faculty” in 2019 ranged from $191,500 (Ross College College of Drugs) to $253,072 (American College of the Caribbean College of Drugs).” College students at public medical colleges within the U.S., compared, accrued a median debt of $190,000.

A table listing annual tuition fees at select medical schools in the U.S. and Caribbean.

U.S. college students, thus, don’t essentially attend OMUs as a result of they’re extra reasonably priced however actually because it’s simpler to get admitted to those colleges. Alternatively, there are various OMUs that cost far decrease tuition charges than U.S. colleges do, and that publicize themselves as a low-cost various. OMUs whose college students don’t qualify for monetary support within the U.S. or Canada, specifically, are typically much cheaper. Regardless of their lack of recognition in North America, the affordability of those colleges is usually a draw for Individuals and different worldwide college students.

Some OMUs guarantee eligibility for U.S. Title IV federal scholar loans by partnering with U.S. establishments to supply twin diploma applications or concurrent enrollment—a regulatory loophole that permits college students to entry federal loans by way of simultaneous enrollment in a U.S. online program, similar to a Grasp of Enterprise Administration or Grasp of Public Well being program. For instance, the John F. Kennedy College College of Drugs in Curaçao has partnered with Maharishi Worldwide College (previously the Maharishi College of Administration) and Walden College in the US. It advertises on its web site that twin enrollment qualifies college students for federal loans. There are a minimum of 18 OMUs which have these sorts of preparations, most of them with Walden College, in addition to with Franklin College, headquartered in Ohio. The U.S. associate establishments supply OMU college students a tuition low cost for enrolling of their applications.

A chart showing the average annual cost of U.S. medical school between 2015 and 2024.

Variety of OMUs within the Caribbean

The variety of OMUs within the Caribbean will depend on how narrowly one defines the Caribbean area. Past the islands of the Larger and Lesser Antilles, there are OMUs within the Lucayan (Bahamian) Archipelago and continental nations bordering the Caribbean Sea, notably in Belize and Guyana. Now we have included these establishments on this article since they supply the identical sort of training and observe the identical enterprise mannequin. Actually, OMUs make up a majority of medical training suppliers in these small nations, that are culturally usually thought of a part of the Caribbean, and are a part of the Caribbean Neighborhood (CARICOM)—an intergovernmental group of 15 Caribbean nations and territories.

Whereas we consider that our tally represents an exhaustive record of OMUs within the Caribbean, we don’t presume that it contains each faculty that gives U.S.-modeled medical training for worldwide college students. The Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine, for instance, is taken into account one of many first offshore medical colleges within the Americas, however due to its location in western Mexico it isn’t included right here.

For reference, a list of all establishments mentioned right here as OMUs is connected on the finish of this text. The record contains each present and defunct suppliers. It’s primarily based on the World Listing of Medical Schools (WDOMS), cross-referenced with institutional web sites and different data. The Basis for Development of Worldwide Medical Training and Analysis, which partially manages WDOMS, revealed the same record of OMUs in 2014. One other useful useful resource on OMUs, notably from an accreditation perspective, is a current evaluation and itemizing published by AACRAO.

In line with our tally, there are presently 61 useful OMUs within the bigger Caribbean area, working in 19 nations and territories. This compares with 192 operational medical colleges within the U.S. and 17 in Canada. As proven within the chart beneath, the variety of new OMUs has jumped markedly for the reason that Seventies. Whereas there have been solely 6 Caribbean OMUs within the Nineteen Eighties, 29 opened within the 2000s, adopted by 38 between 2000 and 2023. Six OMUs opened inside the previous three years alone. The biggest numbers of OMUs are in Barbados (8), Guyana (7), and Saint Lucia (6).

A chart showing the number of newly opened offshore medical schools in the Caribbean. While just 12 were opened between 1970 and 2000, 67 have been opened in the years since.

The cluster of OMUs within the Caribbean is characterised by fluctuation. As famous, medical colleges there might be arrange comparatively shortly, but could shutter inside years after opening. Since OMUs are run by non-public firms and are generally later acquired by new homeowners. Some establishments reopen underneath totally different names, relocate, or department out to different nations within the area. As an example, the American College of Integrative Sciences College of Drugs in Barbados was first based on the island of Sint Eustatius underneath the identify College of Sint Eustatius College of Drugs, then modified its identify and operated in Sint Maarten for a couple of years, earlier than it was purchased out by one other firm and situated to Barbados in 2017.

Political developments have had an impression on some OMUs. After the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010, the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba got here underneath the direct administration of the Netherlands, which required medical colleges there to hunt Dutch accreditation. Because of this, most OMUs on these islands relocated to different jurisdictions within the area. The one establishment that efficiently obtained Dutch accreditation of its MD program was the Saba College College of Drugs.

Notice {that a} handful of faculties listed in WDOMs have defunct web sites, in order that it’s unsure whether or not these colleges had been useful on the time of this writing. Until we may substantiate elsewhere that these establishments had been operational, we excluded them from our tally. A few of these colleges appear to be fly-by-night suppliers whose authorized standing is doubtful.1

Guyana is a considerably uncommon case in that a number of of the faculties there seem to primarily serve college students from India.2 Lincoln American College College of Drugs, for instance, has workplace areas in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, in addition to partnerships with hospitals and well being care suppliers in India and Nepal. It advertises that its curriculum follows Indian regulatory tips and is acknowledged in India. Some establishments in Guyana additionally supply a variety of applications past the usual MD, making them harder to categorise. The Twin Island College College of Drugs, for instance, promotes itself as an “offshore medical faculty … that caters primarily to overseas in addition to native Guyanese college students” who want “to follow medication in the US and Canada.” On the similar time, the college presents bachelor and grasp applications in engineering, chemistry, and physics, in addition to a Physician of Philosophy diploma in science.

Admission Necessities

The comparatively relaxed admission necessities of OMUs are key to their rising reputation. Like medical colleges within the U.S., OMUs usually require a bachelor’s diploma or three years of undergraduate research with enough credit in science topics and arithmetic for admission into their postgraduate MD applications. Nevertheless, whereas the typical undergraduate GPA of matriculants at U.S. medical colleges in 2023 was 3.77, GPA necessities at OMUs vary from 3.3 at established colleges like SGU to solely 2.0 at lower-tier colleges.3

The admission requirements of OMUs differ considerably however most of them don’t have entrance examinations. Established colleges just like the “huge 4” could state that they conduct admissions interviews or desire that candidates have some type of prior scientific expertise. The Medical Faculty Admission Take a look at (MCAT)—an ordinary requirement at most U.S. colleges—is barely mandated by a handful of OMUs, similar to SGU, Ross College, or AUC. (This requirement is mostly just for U.S. residents and residents, with minimal rating necessities on the decrease finish of the spectrum).

In some circumstances, candidates could also be requested to submit MCAT scores, however the check outcomes aren’t factored into admission selections. In different circumstances, the submission of MCAT scores is explicitly “not required” or “non-compulsory.” For candidates from non-English-speaking nations, the TOEFL (Take a look at of English as a Overseas Language) or comparable proficiency examination could or is probably not wanted. One faculty proudly advertises that the “TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, ACT, or MCAT or some other Equal Standardized Take a look at … are not required at all.” By some accounts, admission charges at OMUs are 10 instances larger than at U.S. schools. Some OMUs make use of aggressive recruitment techniques and overenroll unqualified college students, leading to excessive attrition charges.

Past permissive admission necessities, there are a couple of U.S. universities that facilitate the offshoring of medical training by partnerships with OMUs. Some U.S. establishments have signed agreements with OMUs that ease the transition of their undergraduate college students into offshore MD applications. College students at these feeder establishments can get direct and expeditious admission into associate OMUs upon completion of their undergraduate degree.

Program Construction and Curricula

An outline of the MD applications provided by OMUs needn’t be intensive, for many OMUs educate the identical curriculum as medical colleges within the U.S. and Canada, usually utilizing the identical textbooks. Professors are sometimes U.S.-educated, holding MD or PhD levels, however are mentioned to be paid decrease salaries than instructors at U.S. schools.

The primary 4 or 5 semesters of the MD program cowl the fundamental science curriculum and embody coursework in topics like anatomy, biochemistry, epidemiology, microbiology, histology, pathology, or physiology. College students then sit for the USMLE Step 1 exams—a passing rating is a prerequisite for persevering with to the following, scientific stage of this system. The ultimate semester of the pre-clinical part is commonly devoted particularly to prepping college students for the examination.

The second part—the scientific science or clerkship curriculum—entails supervised scientific coaching in medical specialties like inside medication, pediatrics, surgical procedure, emergency medication, radiology, or ophthalmology. This part normally lasts two years, resulting in the USMLE Step 2 examination. The residency coaching normally takes place at associate hospitals within the U.S., Canada, or different nations (see beneath).

After passing the examination and fulfilling all different faculty necessities, graduates are awarded a Physician of Drugs diploma (MD). To develop into licensed within the U.S., candidates nonetheless have to receive ECFMG certification, full a one-year scientific internship, and cross a 3rd USMLE examination. These remaining steps are taken independently and usually are not supervised by a medical faculty.

Along with the usual U.S. MD program, many OMUs additionally supply built-in five-, 5 and a half-, or generally six-year undergraduate applications for highschool graduates. Candidates who don’t have the required undergraduate science credit for the postgraduate MD program can purchase these credit in an accelerated premedical part lasting one or one and a half years, which is then adopted by the usual medical curriculum.

Offshore Veterinary Training

A handful of OMUs supply applications resulting in a Physician of Veterinary Drugs (DVM). Relying on this system, offshore DVM applications have much less stringent admission necessities than U.S. colleges and might be accomplished in much less time however are typically costly when it comes to tuition.

Veterinary medication requires fewer scientific amenities than human medication, which signifies that these amenities are less expensive to function, and a few OMUs have established their very own on-site veterinary instructing hospitals within the Caribbean. Offshore veterinary colleges embody St. Matthew’s College College of Veterinary Drugs within the Cayman Islands, Ross College, and SGU. The latter two are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In different circumstances, the premedical part is extra intensive, and a Bachelor of Well being Sciences or comparable diploma could also be awarded en passant to the MD, respectively as a standalone diploma. This enables college students to earn a bachelor’s diploma after two or three years of research. A part of these applications could also be studied in distance mode. Some OMUs additionally supply bachelor diploma programs in nursing and public health.

Built-in applications are extra akin to undergraduate medical diploma applications present in different nations, similar to India. The admission necessities for these applications could subsequently be much less particularly tailor-made to U.S. college students and record a variety of secondary faculty {qualifications} from totally different nations. Relying on the establishment, Indian candidates could have to submit scores from the Indian NEET along with holding an Indian 10+2 upper-secondary qualification. The NEET is necessary for returning Indian college students to acquire licensure in India.

Scientific Clerkship Coaching

Most OMUs don’t have intensive scientific amenities and normally don’t make the most of native instructing hospitals, that are restricted in quantity within the Caribbean. As a substitute, they outsource the scientific clerkship coaching to hospitals in different nations, primarily the U.S., but in addition numerous different nations like Canada, Eire, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the U.Ok., and even Nepal.

OMUs have partnerships with hospitals all around the U.S., together with in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Texas. The biggest variety of OMU college students endure scientific coaching in New York, the place a few of the huge OMUs have secured large-scale contracts with native hospitals.

These partnerships might be very profitable for hospitals since OMUs buy residency slots at excessive costs, whereas clerkship coaching for college students at U.S. colleges is supplied both freed from cost or for comparatively small charges at public hospitals. In 2008, SGU signed a 10-year $100 million contract for as much as 600 residency slots with New York Metropolis’s Well being and Hospitals Company, a public profit company that runs the general public hospitals and clinics within the metropolis. In one other instance, Ross College in 2012 secured round 100 residency slots for $35 million over 10 years in an settlement with Kern Medical Heart, a public instructing hospital in California.

These pay-for-play practices have been decried as a monetization of medical coaching to the detriment of U.S. college students. One observer famous on the time that “checkbook-carting Caribbean colleges may edge out their non-paying U.S. counterparts, squeezing American college students out of [clinical] rotations. Some predict the U.S. colleges finally should pony up money, too, thereby growing already excessive medical school costs.” Public medical universities in New York are certainly reported to have misplaced residency slots at hospitals contracted by OMUs.

Accreditation

As mentioned additional beneath, U.S. authorities are at present introducing regulatory adjustments that may incentivize OMUs to acquire accreditation by exterior accreditation companies. Because it stands, nonetheless, many OMUs within the Caribbean solely want a license to function, which can be granted by governmental constitution or an act by native parliament. In some circumstances, sustaining a license could also be contingent on accreditation by nationwide or worldwide accrediting our bodies, however in different circumstances it’s not. The Barbados Accreditation Council, as an illustration, permits all OMUs on the island to function as registered training suppliers, however has granted formal accreditation to solely one in all them. The accreditation board of St. Kitts and Nevis, then again, has granted accreditation to all OMUs operating there. Some Caribbean jurisdictions don’t have devoted accreditation companies in any respect. In Saint Lucia, dwelling to numerous OMUs, an accreditation council for tertiary establishments wasn’t arrange till 2020 and wasn’t totally operational as of this writing.

To ascertain extra coherent high quality requirements, a number of Caribbean nations have created a joint accreditation mechanism for medical applications within the type of the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Training in Drugs and Different Well being Professions (CAAM-HP), a regional accreditation physique established in 2003 underneath the auspices of CARICOM. CAAM-HP accreditation certifies that medical applications meet set high quality requirements. The physique’s accreditation requirements stipulate that MD applications embody a minimal of 130 weeks of instruction over a minimum of 4 calendar years, along with sure minimal requirements for academic amenities, the content material of the curriculum, evaluation strategies, and the {qualifications} of instructing workers. Admission have to be primarily based on an undergraduate diploma or “an enough degree within the sciences.”

Nevertheless, most OMUs are at present not accredited by CAAM-HP. The fee’s revealed record of assessed programs exhibits that a number of OMUs have been rejected, misplaced their accreditation, or withdrew voluntarily. Others have obtained solely conditional accreditation so far. Whereas CAAM-HP accreditation is open to establishments from non-CARICOM member states, huge OMUs like AUC and the Saba College College of Drugs haven’t utilized for accreditation. SGU in 2021 withdrew from CAAM-HP after it beforehand held probationary accreditation. The college states on its web site that it withdrew voluntarily as a result of this kind of accreditation wasn’t “wanted for entry to U.S. Federal Direct Pupil Loans” and other benefits.

Some OMUs have ventured distant from the Caribbean to acquire accreditation by the Accreditation Fee on Faculties of Drugs (ACCM), a little-known unbiased non-public company situated in Eire that was established in 1994, earlier than the creation of CAAM-HP. ACCM states that it “serves nations which can not have a medical accreditation physique of its personal.” It presently solely accredits 10 establishments—9 OMUs within the Caribbean and one medical faculty in Bahrain.

For these OMUs, accreditation by ACCM is efficacious as a result of it facilitates their recognition in the US. ACCM is taken into account a “comparable overseas accreditor” by the U.S. Nationwide Committee on Overseas Medical Training and Accreditation (NCFMEA). This committee, housed underneath the federal Division of Training, is tasked with “figuring out whether or not the requirements of accreditation utilized by a overseas nation to accredit medical colleges, are akin to requirements utilized to medical colleges in the US.” Since ACCM is deemed comparable, American college students enrolled at ACCM-accredited establishments are eligible to entry federal scholar loans—an necessary monetary issue for OMUs since this entry significantly facilitates the recruitment of U.S. college students. The NCFMEA at present lists ACCM as a bona fide accreditor for the Cayman Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Sint Maarten.

Of word, a number of OMUs promote their itemizing in WDOMS within the accreditation data sections on their web sites. This type of advertising and marketing might be deceptive, since WDOMS is just not an accrediting physique. Being listed in WDOMS by itself “doesn’t denote recognition, accreditation, or endorsement by the World Listing of Medical Colleges or by its partner organizations.” To be listed in WDOMs, a college solely must be formally licensed or chartered of their respective nation or territory.

Different types of questionable advertising and marketing might be discovered on some OMU web sites as effectively. CAAM-HP in 2019 famous that “sure medical colleges in Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, St Vincent & The Grenadines, and Guyana have been making false claims of being accredited by CAAM-HP and, in a single case, a selected faculty had even gone to the extent of issuing a bogus certificates, bearing what was presupposed to be the signatures” of CAAM executives.

A photo of the campus of St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada.

Campus of St. George’s College College of Drugs in Grenada

Acceptance of OMUs within the U.S. and Canada

The outcomes of offshore training might be disappointing for medical college students looking for to acquire a scientific residency and to follow medication within the U.S. or Canada. On their web sites, OMUs paint a rosy image, underpinned by cherry-picked statistics on residency match and USMLE cross charges. However the actuality usually seems very totally different. William Pinsky, president of ECFMG till late 2023, instructed the New York Occasions in 2021 that college students had been “being taken benefit of by colleges that will not give them correct data as to how they’re going to study and what their alternatives are going to be once they finish school.” Commencement charges, for instance, are substandard even at the most effective OMUs, reportedly ranging between 50 and 80 % in contrast with 90 to 95 % at U.S. schools. Pupil-to-faculty ratios and attrition charges are mentioned to be larger, and extra college students fail to graduate on time.

After commencement, holders of offshore levels could face scrutiny and rejection as a result of poor status of OMUs within the U.S., the place they’re usually considered as shoddy suppliers. Surveys of hospital directors present that U.S. IMGs are far much less prone to be invited to software interviews than U.S. graduates. Furthermore, offshore college students cross the USMLE licensing exams at decrease charges and get accepted for scientific internship coaching in proportionately fewer numbers. In 2022, the U.S. Federal Commerce Fee ordered Saint James College of Drugs to pay US$1.2 million in refunds as a result of it deceptively inflated these statistics. Whereas the college marketed a USMLE Step 1 cross fee of 96.77 percent, actually solely 35 % of Saint James college students have handed the examination since 2017. The residency match fee for graduates was solely 63 %, not the 83 % promoted by Saint James.

Go charges are mentioned to be considerably larger for college students at top-tier OMUs just like the “huge 4,” however they’re nonetheless not on par with the cross charges of high U.S. colleges. Whereas public USMLE performance data don’t distinguish between nations or establishments, the general cross fee for college students enrolled in overseas colleges within the 2022 USMLE Step 1 examination was 74 %, whereas it was 91 % for U.S. and Canadian college students. In Step 2, 86 % of internationally educated examinees handed the examination in contrast with 98 % of examinees educated within the U.S. and Canada.

When it comes to residency match charges, U.S. IMGs outperform IMGs from different nations, however they’re much less profitable in securing residencies than U.S. graduates. In 2023, 67.7 % of U.S. IMGs matched into postgraduate residency applications in contrast with 93.7 percent of graduates from U.S. and Canadian colleges.4 The chance of matching will depend on the medical specialty, in addition to on the U.S. state the place the residency coaching takes place. Offshore graduates are much less prone to receive residencies in probably the most aggressive medical fields and in additional restrictive states. Medical medical doctors within the U.S. are licensed by state authorities, and a few states have extra necessities past ECFMG certification.

Given these difficulties, consultancy companies have sprung up that advise candidates on which residency applications and states are “IMG friendly.” Inside medication is taken into account probably the most IMG-friendly specialty, alongside household medication, pathology, and pediatrics. When it comes to complete numbers, most IMGs enter residencies in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania. That mentioned, acquiring a residency place alone is just not all the time sufficient. In a number of states, IMGs should full one or two extra years of postgraduate scientific coaching than U.S. graduates earlier than qualifying for licensure. As soon as licensed in a single state, IMGs can then sometimes follow in numerous different states due to reciprocity agreements.

Eligibility for ECFMG Certification

Given the qualitative disparities between OMUs, the success of offshore college students usually will depend on the college they attend, with OMUs being unofficially ranked into totally different tiers primarily based on their status. Nevertheless, ECFMG certification is a tough criterion for each IMG to be permitted to enter accredited postgraduate residency applications within the U.S. and sit for the ultimate USMLE Step 3 examination. The overseas faculty at which a candidate studied have to be authorized by ECFMG. To be authorized by ECFMG, medical colleges should, at minimal, “be acknowledged as a medical faculty by the suitable authorities authority within the faculty’s host nation, and the diploma awarded to its graduates should meet the medical training eligibility necessities for licensure to follow medication in that country.” As well as, the MD applications provided by the college have to be a minimum of 4 years in length.

As of January 2024, the ECFMG listed on its web site 19 Caribbean OMUs among the many overseas colleges eligible for ECFMG certification. As well as, authorized colleges are additionally recognized in WDOMS, which is partially sponsored by ECFMG. A “sponsor word” denoting ECFMG acceptance is included within the WDOMS listing for authorized colleges. This sponsor word could also be restricted to particular time intervals (which is generally the case for closed colleges). Sponsor notes can be withdrawn. WDOMS information for some OMUs embody annotations that these colleges are ineligible for ECFMG certification, or that they supplied “false data and paperwork to ECFMG.”

Upcoming Regulatory Modifications

ECFMG is at present updating its approval standards for overseas medical colleges—a change that’s slated to be accomplished in late 2024. In an effort to advance accreditation requirements for medical colleges, ECFMG approval of overseas colleges might be primarily based on their accreditation by an company that should itself “be reviewed and acknowledged by an exterior high quality assurance organization.” In follow, which means colleges have to be accredited by an company that’s acknowledged by the World Federation for Medical Training (WFME), an necessary worldwide non-governmental group that seeks to enhance world high quality requirements in medical training. A easy working license granted by a selected authorities doesn’t fulfill the necessities of the ECFMG’s new “acknowledged accreditation coverage.”

Going ahead, authorized colleges might be recognized as having “acknowledged accreditation standing” within the WDOMS sponsor word. This modification is not going to impression OMUs that at present maintain accreditation by CAAM-HP or ACCM, accepted nationwide accreditors, or different acknowledged accrediting our bodies, such because the Dutch NVAO. Nevertheless, OMUs with out a lot of these accreditations are actually incentivized to acquire them or threat shedding market share. A listing of WFME-recognized accreditors might be found here. The one nationwide accrediting physique within the Caribbean acknowledged by WFME is the Grenada Medical and Dental Council, which gained recognition in 2022. Graduates of OMUs in different Caribbean nations that don’t have accreditation by a acknowledged exterior company will doubtless discover it troublesome to acquire ECFMG certification in coming years.

Recognition in Canada

In Canada, graduates of OMUs face even steeper hurdles than in the US. Canadian authorities search to make sure that graduates of Canadian colleges have entry to residency coaching, and they also restrict the variety of obtainable slots for IMGs with a quota system set by the nation’s provinces. Not like graduates of Canadian colleges, IMGs should additionally cross two exams as a substitute of 1 to use for residency applications by the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). Along with the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Half I, which is required for all candidates, IMGs should additionally cross the Nationwide Evaluation Collaboration (NAC) Examination—a check that measures the readiness of IMGs for postgraduate coaching in Canada.

Canada follows an method just like that of U.S. authorities in relation to the popularity of overseas medical colleges. Whereas provincial regulatory our bodies in Canada set their very own licensing standards, IMGs that need to develop into licensed in Canada should have a level from a college that’s acknowledged by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). The MCC has not revealed its evaluation standards, nevertheless it usually acknowledges the identical OMUs because the U.S. ECFMG. As within the case of the U.S., a Canada sponsor word is connected to acknowledged colleges within the WDOMS listing, indicating that medical levels obtained from these colleges “are acceptable to the provincial/territorial medical regulatory authorities in Canada, and subsequently acceptable to all medical organizations in Canada.” Acknowledged colleges listed in WDOMS normally embody each the ECFMG and Canadian sponsor word. It’s unclear if the ECFGM’s new acknowledged accreditation coverage will affect recognition requirements in Canada going ahead.

There may be much less quantitative information obtainable on Canadians learning medication overseas than for U.S. IMGs. Nevertheless, their quantity has grown steadily in recent years. About 50 % of the IMGs that sat for the 2017 NAC examination—767 candidates—had been born in Canada or had been everlasting Canadian residents. At the very least 19 % of those candidates had been educated in Caribbean nations and territories.

IMGs (from all nations) cross Canadian licensing exams and match into residencies at considerably decrease charges than graduates of Canadian colleges. Whereas 93 % of Canadian-educated first-time check takers handed the MCCQE1 in 2023, solely 59 % of IMGs did. Likewise, 93.5 % of Canadian-educated candidates in 2023 matched into first-year postgraduate residencies by CaRMS in contrast with 72.3 percent of IMGs.5  The revealed CaRMS information are solely damaged down by area, not by particular person nations. However candidates educated within the Caribbean and Central America matched at decrease charges (29 %) than candidates educated in Europe and South America, which succeeded at a fee of 60 and 41 %, respectively.6 OMUs are sometimes considered as low-quality suppliers in Canada: Interviews of Canadian medical training professionals present that OMUs are typically held in lower regard than Canadian colleges; many Canadian IMGs educated within the Caribbean are mentioned to follow within the U.S. or elsewhere as a substitute of returning to Canada due to the troublesome profession prospects they encounter there.


Offshore Medical Universities (OMUs)
Establishment by Nation/Territory 12 months Training Commenced Presently Operational (Sure/No)
Anguilla
American College of Anguilla College of Drugs 2022 Y
Saint James College of Drugs Anguilla 2010 Y
Antigua and Barbuda
American College of Antigua Faculty of Drugs 2004 Y
Atlantic College College of Drugs 2017 Y
Metropolitan College Faculty of Drugs 2017 Y
College of Well being Sciences Antigua College of Drugs 1983 Y
Aruba
American College College of Drugs Aruba 2018 Y
Aureus College College of Drugs 2004 Y
Bay College College of Drugs 2020 Y
Nucleus College College of Drugs 2021 Y
Xavier College College of Drugs, Aruba 2004 Y
Bahamas
Western Atlantic College, College of Drugs 2022 Y
Barbados
American College of Barbados College of Drugs 2011 Y
American College of Integrative Sciences College of Drugs 1999 Y
Bridgetown Worldwide College College of Drugs 2019 Y
Worldwide College of Barbados College of Drugs 2017 Y
Queen’s College Faculty of Drugs 2018 Y
Ross College College of Drugs 1978 Y
Victoria College of Barbados College of Drugs 2019 Y
Washington College of Barbados College of Drugs 2016 Y
Belize
American Northwest College 2018 Y
Avicina Medical Academy 2012 N (date of closure unknown)
Columbus Central College College of Drugs 2006 Y
Grace College College of Drugs 2000 N (closed 2004)
Hope College College of Drugs 2005 N (closed 2007)
InterAmerican Medical College 2003 N (closed 2011)
Medical College of the Americas 2001 N (closed 2010)
St. Luke’s College College of Drugs 2002 N (closed 2007)
St. Matthew’s College College of Drugs 1997 N (closed 2002)
Washington College of Well being and Sciences 2012 Y
Bonaire
Worldwide College College of Drugs 2010 Y
Cayman Islands
St. Matthew’s College College of Drugs 1997 Y
Curacao
Avalon College College of Drugs 2003 Y
Caribbean Medical College College of Drugs 2007 Y
John F. Kennedy College College of Drugs 2014 Y
New York Medical College College of Drugs 2017 Y
St. Martinus College School of Drugs 2003 Y
Dominica
All Saints College College of Drugs, Dominica 2006 Y
American Canadian College of Drugs 2023 Y
St. Joseph College College of Drugs and Allied Well being Sciences 2022 Y
Grenada
St. George’s College College of Drugs 1977 Y
Guyana
Alexander American College College of Drugs 2016 N (Closed 2018)
American Worldwide College of Drugs 2000 Y
American College of Drugs 2022 Y
Georgetown American College College of Drugs 2014 Y
GreenHeart Medical College College of Drugs 2005 Y
Lincoln American College College of Drugs 2017 Y
Rajiv Gandhi College of Science and Know-how College of Drugs 2012 Y
Twin Island College College of Drugs 2014 Y
Jamaica
Caribbean College of Medical Sciences 2015 Y
Montserrat
Seoul Central Faculty of Drugs 2003 N (date of closure unknown)
College of Science, Arts & Know-how (USAT) School 2003 Y
Vanguard College College of Drugs 2014 Unclear
Saba
Saba College College of Drugs 1993 Y
St. Kitts and Nevis
Burnett Worldwide College College of Drugs and Well being Sciences 2006 N (closed 2010)
Grace College College of Drugs 1984 N (closed 1999)
Worldwide College of the Well being Sciences 1998 Y
Medical College of the Americas 2000 Y
Milik College 2005 N (closed 2010)
Saint Theresa’s Medical College 2005 N (closed 2009)
Common Caribbean College College of Drugs 2018 Y
College of Drugs and Well being Sciences, St. Kitts 2008 Y
Windsor College College of Drugs 2000 Y
Saint Lucia
American Worldwide Medical College College of Drugs 2007 Y
Atlantic College College of Drugs 2010 N (closed 2017)
Faculty of Drugs and Well being Sciences, St. Lucia 2001 Y
Commonwealth College Faculty of Drugs 2019 Y
Worldwide American College Faculty of Drugs 2004 Y
Spartan Well being Sciences College College of Drugs 1980 Y
St. Helen College College of Drugs 2012 N (closed 2014)
St. Mary’s College of Drugs 2003 N (date of closure unknown)
Washington Medical Sciences Institute 2011 Y
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
All Saints College College of Drugs 2012 Y
Kingstown Medical Faculty 1979 N (closed 2007)
Richmond Gabriel College Faculty of Drugs 2011 Y
Saint James College of Drugs St. Vincent and the 2000 Y
Saint Teresa College College of Drugs 2019 Y
Trinity College of Drugs 2008 Y
Sint Maarten
American College of the Caribbean College of Drugs 1978 Y

1. One such case is the North Shore Medical Institute in Guyana, no hint of which exists on the web regardless of its being listed in WDOMS as a medical faculty established in 2023. It’s not listed by Guyana’s National Accreditation Council as of this writing. The administrator of a medical faculty that beforehand operated underneath the identify North Shore was in 2016 investigated for fraud and has been accused of working illegitimate medical colleges underneath totally different names in the past.

2. Whereas it’s unclear if this is a vital issue, Guyana has the biggest variety of individuals of Indian heritage within the Caribbean area after Trinidad and Tobago. Indo-Guyanese make up the biggest ethnic group there, accounting for some 40 % of the inhabitants, in response to Guyana’s latest census.

3. Minimal GPA necessities aren’t all the time reported by OMUs however are effectively publicized by numerous admissions consulting agencies.

4. Knowledge from the Nationwide Resident Matching Program (NRMP), by which most candidates receive residencies within the U.S. Notice, nonetheless, that it’s technically doable to be accepted to a residency place outdoors the NRMP Match.

5. The match charges of each IMGs and Canadian graduates drop additional when taking a look at ends in the second check spherical (iteration), in addition to for candidates who graduated within the earlier 12 months. In 2023, 90.4 % of earlier 12 months Canadian-educated graduates matched into residencies by CaRMS in contrast with 30.1 precent of IMGs. Within the second check iteration, 60.6 % of Canadian medical graduates matched in contrast with 39 % of IMGs.

6. Notice, nonetheless, that candidates educated in Central America and the Caribbean outperformed candidates educated within the Center East (23 %), Asia (25 %), and Africa (28 %).


The views and opinions expressed on this article are these of the creator(s) and don’t essentially mirror the official coverage or place of World Training Companies (WES).



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