Dr. Adedayo Akande, President of the University of Health Sciences Antigua, shares why medical school hopefuls should consider attending school in the Caribbean, and Antigua in particular.
The Caribbean has a lot to offer: miles of pristine beach, almost year-round sunshine, and some of the most stunning landscapes to be found anywhere in the world. However, some people may not realize that the Caribbean is also a prime destination for medical students to study.
Medical school is famous for being highly competitive. Acceptance rates can be oppressively low, and every year, many talented students can be left out in the cold when there are not enough spots for everyone. US schools’ cut-throat, competitive nature may lead some students to consider school outside of the United States, and the Caribbean has been a viable option for students seeking an alternative route to an MD.
Currently, there are sixty medical schools in the Caribbean, most known for higher acceptance rates and lower tuition costs than their US counterparts.
One of these schools, the University of Health Sciences Antigua, have opened their doors to 200 MD students, 80% of whom are from the United States, according to President Adedayo Akande. Dr. Akande’s father established the school in 1982. They are an allopathic college, issuing MD degrees and serving up a well-rounded curriculum for future doctors. Approaching their 40th year in operation, the University of Health Sciences Antigua’s reputation has been well established.
“Caribbean medical schools give students an international experience. We have graduated practicing students from around the world, and in nearly every medical specialty,” says Dr. Akande.
University of Health Sciences Antigua students complete the same academic pathway as students in the United States. The school also likes to think outside of the box while delivering the best learning experience.
“At this time, we recently partnered with a Canadian life sciences company to offer research programs in the use of psychedelic medicine,” Dr. Akande says, “Radical initiatives like this, which greatly benefit the education of students, may not be something that is necessarily offered at US-based medical schools.”
The main issue with medical schools in the United States is the difficulty of getting accepted. With popular medical schools such as Georgetown and Loyola receiving upwards of 14,000 applications for a school year, students may feel their odds of acceptance are far better when applying to a school in the Caribbean. In most cases, they would be correct. The most competitive medical schools in the United States, such as Harvard, only admit about 3% of applicants.
Allowing more students an avenue to study and gain their MD in the Caribbean may be an answer to the physician shortage in the United States.
Dr. Akande acknowledges that not all Caribbean medical schools are cut from the same cloth. He urges prospective students to do their due diligence and research the schools on their radar. While some schools in the Caribbean churn out well-rounded individuals ready to practice medicine, others may be less than stellar, just like schools in the US.
It helps to evaluate what one hopes to get out of medical school when looking to choose which Caribbean schools deserve consideration. Speaking with administrators and enrollment counselors, touring campuses, and even speaking with other students is a great way to get a feel for a school.
Longevity is also an important consideration when looking into Caribbean schools. Schools such as the University of Health Sciences Antigua that have been open and educating for thirty years or more are a far safer bet than some fly-by-night operation looking to make quick money.
The University of Health Sciences Antigua and other allopathic universities in the Caribbean continue to court students from the United States and worldwide. They tout the safety and beauty of their locations and seek to drive home the quality of education students can expect at the best Caribbean institutions.
“The quality of medical education in the Caribbean has dramatically improved over the years,” says Dr. Akande, “What students learn in US schools is the same as what they will learn in the Caribbean.”
People who have dreamed their entire academic lives of becoming doctors have options, even when the acceptance rate and astronomical tuition costs in the United States seem insurmountable. Administrators like Dr. Akande continue championing their schools and bringing people seeking different options to the beautiful Caribbean campuses.