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As many as 15 lakh aspirants compete for just 80,055 medical seats every year in India. It is not surprising in a country that is encircled by the charm of this degree with the path to acquiring it strewn with challenges from the word go. Starting with NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) to various reservation policies, completing an MBBS degree is one of India's most challenging yet rewarding academic exercises.
Every year, thousands of medical aspirants prepare themselves mentally and physically for the country's most rigorous college admission season. However, since the country cannot meet the demand of doctor-aspirants among its vast population, many Indian students turn to foreign countries to study medicine.
While medical studies could be costly in countries like the US and UK, universities in countries such as Russia, China, and the Caribbean region are fast becoming students' preferred choice in India. Foreign medical universities are an opportunity for students whose admission prospects are dim in their country.
Caribbean Medical University
The Caribbean is a region in the Americas comprising the Caribbean sea, its coastal mainland, and islands. This region has developed into a medical education hub in the last 40 years, helping international students, especially from the USA, Canada, India, and European countries pursue their dream of becoming a doctor.
Since these universities stringently followed the American education system and curriculum, the students had the opportunity to work in clinical sites (centers for drug, equipment, and therapy research) across the US. This opens avenues for students to continue their medical education and practice in the US.
Indian students can unhesitatingly enroll for an MD program in these universities. Many Caribbean medical schools like TAU Guyana are approved by the Medical Council of India and listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS).
The top benefit of completing an MD in the Caribbean is the opportunity for Indian students to continue their studies in the USA. At the end of it, the students can qualify in the licensing exams and get authorized to practice in India.
One of the leading countries in this region that stands out for its medical education infrastructure is Guyana—the only English-speaking nation in South America. A diverse population lives here, and 40 percent of the Guyanese are of Indian origin.
Guyana offers affordable medical education to students, local and international, with some top medical universities that have made this country their home. Guyana follows a US-based medical curriculum, throwing open international clinical experiences that prepare doctors for global practice.
The cost of living in Guyana is relatively reasonable with the added advantages of a natural ambiance, diverse population, international exposure, and harmony.
Characterized by a 'no donation policy,' Guyana medical universities are the new glimmer of hope for medical aspirants left behind in the race to become physicians due to inherent practices in the home countries.
Social and Cultural
Official languages spoken in the Caribbean are English, Dutch, Spanish and French, and since Indians are most comfortable in English, the language barrier is almost absent.
With a literacy rate of 71 percent and a population of 4.45 crore, the Caribbean countries and India enjoy a historical relationship with Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica – home to about 2 million Indian diasporas whose ancestors arrived in the Caribbean as indentured laborers of the British.
India also has strong bilateral relations with the Caribbean nations.
It is judicious to study in a country with friendly ties with the home country so that there is no angst surrounding governmental policies that may impact continuity in education.
Besides, the region tops the list for its breath-taking Kaieteur Falls, creeks, beaches, and perfect weather. These make the study years a memorable experience.
A rich cultural diversification in Caribbean medical universities enables students to discover various cultures, values, and traditions that contribute to developing an open mind and an all-around personality.
Caribbean medical school fee is highly affordable, which is said to be less than what India’s private medical colleges charge. Add to this the well-known capitation fee for medical college admission in several cases where the students cannot meet financially.
Transparent Admission Process
Caribbean medical schools have a transparent admission policy, and the selection process reflects a practical and holistic approach. The aspirants are admitted purely for their love of pursuing a career in medicine.
Applications to medical programs are accepted on a rolling basis all year round for batches opening in March and September. This provides flexibility to apply throughout the year after meeting the eligibility criteria – achieving good marks in school (Grade 12) and clearing the eligibility test in their home country, NEET in India (here, we are not talking about featuring in the merit list).
Study Program and Infrastructure
The study program is built to help students acquire more practical knowledge through 'clinical rotations’ in top hospitals. Leading Caribbean medical universities to have tie-ups with hospitals in West Indies and other Caribbean regions, hospitals in the USA, Canada, Nepal, and other countries worldwide. These international affiliations help the Caribbean medical students get international experience which prepares them for practicing medicine globally.
The US-based curriculum ensures that the students receive top-notch medical education. With access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and high-quality faculty, the students are provided immeasurable exposure to the latest advancements in the medical field.
Medical universities in the Caribbean are registered/recognized by international medical institutions such as the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS), Medical Council of India (MCI), Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER).
A crucial part of a student’s ‘study medicine abroad’ requirement is clearing licensing examinations to practice medicine in their home country or foreign countries, including the US, on completing the degree. The curriculum of Caribbean universities prepares the students to face licensing examinations such as USMLE, MCI, FMGE, PLAB, and AMC. For the record, the universities have enabled students to achieve a high pass rate in these examinations.
In India, the student must clear the rigorous Medical Council of India licensing examination to practice. Several MCI-approved universities in the Caribbean region meet this body's quality requirements.
India currently has a doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,456, with the government working towards the WHO-recommended ratio of 1:1,000.
A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that the United States is headed for a shortage of 139,000 doctors by 2033, with patients getting older and doctors retiring.
While there is a profusion of advantages to pursuing degrees in the Caribbean's medical universities, prospective students need to ensure the quality of education, recognition, and status. This 'investigation' is crucial for any university anywhere in the world.
Besides the recognition, it is also essential to ensure that the World Federation for Medical Education acknowledges the recognition's reputation.
Caribbean medical universities have demonstrated remarkable academic prowess and clinical performances, with their students competing with US medical institutions for residency placements in the US in family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, and other competitive fields.
With Indian medical schools becoming crowded and highly competitive, students have started setting their sights on medical education abroad, and the Caribbean and South American regions offer the best option.
Studying in an international setting like Texila American University (TAU), offering multinational teaching faculty and student community, could be one of the most significant advantages to consider while looking outside India to pursue a medical career.