PRESENTED BY St. George's University school of medicine

Gaining acceptance into medical school is a competitive process. Due to the extraordinary selectivity of U.S. medical schools, many aspiring doctors decide to also apply to international medical programs. These institutions are a great option for qualified students. We spoke with Bob Ryan, Dean of Admissions for St. George's University School of Medicine (SGU), located in Grenada, West Indies, to gain insight into what makes these schools so appealing.

Why do you think international med programs attract so many students?

Bob Ryan: International medical schools provide a pathway for aspiring physicians to achieve their goal of becoming a doctor. SGU is the number one provider of doctors to the US healthcare system, and in 2020, secured a record number of residencies in specialties ranging from family medicine to anesthesiology, cardiology and surgery. Our students consistently perform well in USMLE pass rates and are competitive enough to match for US and Canadian residency placements in multiple specialties.

Medical students analyzing a patient's readings

What are some unique programs and services students should look for when choosing an international medical school?

Bob Ryan: It’s important to note that international medical schools welcome students who are willing to put in the effort for a rewarding career as a physician. The programs and classes are challenging and require hard work and dedication. SGU is committed to helping students succeed at key milestones, such as the USMLE (Steps 1 and 2) and residency match.

To that end, SGU provides students with wide-ranging academic support services to ensure their success:

  • SGU advisors connect with first-term School of Medicine students after each exam to provide additional study resources
  • Dedicated learning strategists work closely with students to navigate academic challenges and help them stay on schedule
  • Most classes are held in small-group instruction and collaborative learning environments
  • SGU also offers programs on time management, effective note-taking, and mock residency interviews—essential skills students don’t typically learn in the classroom

In addition to academic support, SGU’s Office of Career Guidance offers advisement and support to students during their clinical years, including assistance with choosing clinical electives or preparing for residency applications and interviews.

SGU offers students more than 75 locations for clinical rotations across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. During clinical rotations, students can choose to spend their final two years of medical school in a setting that will mirror their intended area of practice or opt to train somewhere that will expand their horizons.

Additionally, students with an interest in global health or advanced medical research can roll those interests into an MD program combined with a CEPH-accredited Master of Public Health (MPH) program. The MD/MPH option teaches students how to implement healthcare at the patient level as well as on a much larger scale. Similarly, the MD/MSc program is designed to prepare students for a career involving original research in specific areas of medicine.

Medical students getting hands-on experience

How do international medical schools help their students adjust to the rigors of medical school and life abroad?

Bob Ryan: SGU is very proud of its student support and philosophy to prioritize the whole student. Your medical school journey starts with a comprehensive orientation program.

All students are placed into small “college” cohorts of 100-150 students that help create an intimate learning community while fostering connection and a sense of community. We offer every student dedicated learning strategists to work with students and help navigate academic challenges.

More than 65 active student organizations round out the diverse student community experiences available.

Importantly, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, SGU quickly pivoted to a virtual curriculum, keeping students on track toward their anticipated graduation dates. As part of SGU’s distance learning program, students participate in instruction as they would on campus, including:

  • Live online lectures, with integrated interactive slides for immediate feedback on understanding, and access to recorded lectures for later review
  • Live interaction with faculty with the use of online chat during lectures
  • High quality SGU-designed interactive videos for virtual clinical skills
  • A new online student portal designed to support students and enhance student community development

If you’re a prospective med student, consider applying to an international medical school like SGU along with domestic programs. SGU’s admissions and financial aid officers are ready to offer a helping hand as you evaluate what medical school is going to be right for you. You can also speak directly to a current student or alum.