Earning admission to med school is certainly a competitive process. In recent years, a growing number of applicants have set their sights on pursuing an MD abroad to increase their chances. Nevertheless, some future physicians are wary of international medical schools. But there are plenty of advantages to be found, as our Q&A with the University of Medicine and Health Sciences (located in St. Kitts) reveals.

How does attending international medical schools leave students uniquely primed for successful careers in medicine?

Students attending international medical schools definitely have some educational advantages. After all, living abroad and becoming immersed in another culture better prepares them for the diverse patient populations they may ultimately serve. Additionally, it can be incredibly eye-opening to see the health systems of another country (UMHS students spend a semester at the local JNF Hospital in St. Kitts, for example). And because international medical schools don’t have their own hospital, students generally move around between several hospitals during the course of their clinical rotations. This provides them with the opportunity to experience different facilities, create a wider network, and better hone where they may apply for residency.

Invaluable hands-on training

How can international students be assured they will be able to practice successfully in their home countries?

Most international medical schools that cater to American and Canadian students are intent on having them become licensed practitioners in their home countries. These institutions have attained certain levels of accreditation which grant their students the ability to take licensing exams, land a residency, and become licensed physicians in the U.S. and Canada. Further, these schools build partnerships with U.S./Canadian based teaching hospitals so that the entirety of their students’ clinical education takes place within those two countries.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative for prospective students to assess international medical schools by their licensing exam pass rates and residency match lists. Students should also pay particular attention to attrition rates. When the academic outcomes are paired with attrition, prospective applicants can more accurately gauge the percentage of students who succeed and return to the U.S. and Canada to practice.

A welcoming student community

How do you help your international students adjust to life abroad?

From day one, we strive to foster a close-knit community. That’s precisely why all students are greeted by a welcoming committee upon arrival on St. Kitts. They are then driven to their housing facilities where they are met by key staff and student team members. And, of course, we provide an extensive orientation program. This includes tours of the island along with outings to restaurants, community centers, and more.

Importantly, we offer excellent support academically and emotionally as well. For example, students are privy to mentoring, counseling, and study skills coaching. They also receive plenty of guidance when it comes to pursuing their residency. Additionally, we pride ourselves on our small class sizes. In turn, this allows students to easily develop relationships with faculty who are eager to see them succeed. Finally, our vibrant campus maintains an extremely active student government association, as well as many student clubs and organizations, all of which help to create an inclusive and highly supportive learning environment.

To learn more about the University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the medical school application process in general, click here.