If you are considering doing Medical School in the Caribbean, there are three schools that you most certainly have seen when you start your Internet search: Saint George's, AUC and finally, the Ross University School of Medicine. All of these schools have their pros and cons and if budget constraints are something limiting your decision, Ross University could be the perfect place for you. Like all other Caribbean schools, there are risks associated with going to this school and there is no guarantee that you will be able to Match back into the United States but it does provide an avenue for you to continue a career in Medicine if your undergraduate studies weren't as successful as you hoped. I'll present some of the Testimony and statistics available about Ross University to help you make an informed decision on the credentials of the institution and if the risk is worth the reward.
The Pros of Enrolling in Ross University
This school is an affordable opportunity for students that are concerned about the expensive tuition that you must pay in order to enroll in Saint George's or the AUC at around $21,000 per semester. The school boasts an impressive 785 students who were able to successfully Match into the US medical system. The school claims to have a first-time Match success rate of 86% for students applying to the NRMP (a system to match a residency program and a medical doctor). Based on the break-down of where these students are matching, if you attend Ross, you can expect to get in one of the professionals traditionally viewed as the "lower spectrum" of Medicine.
Fields like Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Surgery are fields that IMGs should generally expect because they have the most opening and require lower STEP scores in order to find a position. It would appear that at least 85% of the 2016 Ross University Medical graduates were able to find a job in these areas with a few stand-out cases of Dermatology or Anesthesiology. This shows that there is a possibility to not only get back into the United States, but to get back and have a chance to be in a very exclusive specialty.
The requirements for this school are below what was expected of the incoming medical degree candidates at St. George's or AUC as well, making this school a good option if you faced adversity in your Bachelor studies. The average MCAT was 24 and the GPA was 3.08. The tuition is an "affordable" $21,325 per semester - you probably won't spend so much time figuring out how to get rid of your medical school debt - and the school has an improving network of hospitals it allows students to complete clinical rotations in Florida, New Jersey, and New York, to name a few.
Based on student reviews, most students agree that Ross does provide a pleasant learning environment so they can focus on their studies. A few commented that this was mainly due to the fact that
"there is absolutely nothing to do on the island but study"
but nevertheless, when studying in Medicine, you quickly learn that the social life you may have enjoyed in Undergrad is a depressingly distant memory.
Some were also impressed at the organized curriculum that emphasized STEP test-taking strategies. High STEP scores go a long way to determining success in Matching so it is a good strategy to improve your chances of coming home. Professors and TAs were also described as being mostly helpful and able to answer confusing topics to explain difficult topics.
Reasons to Avoid Ross University School of Medicine
The Negatives About Enrolling At Ross
The most telling sign about a potential enrollment at this school is that most of the students on the discussion encourage students to enroll elsewhere in places like Saint George's or American University of the Caribbean if they got a chance instead. Although a lot of the facilities are currently undergoing Renovations, students spending a large sum of money will not get the instant benefit of these new complexes right now so that can greatly hinder your clinical training before you attempt to get into the US clinical electives.
Another unfortunate truth about this school is it does not have the established connections that other schools in the Caribbean have forged making it quite difficult for the students to even find placement in competitive US clinical rotations. In my opinion this reason lists number one why studying medicine in the Carribean is a bad idea. If your school does not have preferential treatment when it comes to a clinical elective as an IMG, often times, your application will be instantly overlooked and discarded because US-based programs do not want to take a risk on a school they have never heard of. Without the "street cred" like Saint George's carries, many students may only find a few opportunities to find rotations in the US and that translates to a low number of letters of recommendation for your ERAS Match application.
Another frequent complaint brought up by a large number of students was the fact that some of the students enrolled in the first few years have an unpleasant "sense of entitlement" complex that can make interacting with peers unbearable. These students claim to have turned down acceptance offers from John Hopkins or Harvard Medical just because they preferred to study somewhere with a tropical climate and that can be annoying. They view themselves very highly and often talk down to their colleagues. Various reports of disruptions during classes surfaces on the forums as well and were attributed to students being rude to professors or administrators because they did not think the topics they were discussing were necessary.
All things considered, if I was faced with a decision about going to Ross, I do see that there are some positives aspects. You do have a chance to Match, you do have a chance to learn Medicine, and you can become a doctor if you apply yourself and take advantage of the opportunity. An important trait of becoming a good doctor is to be humble and sometimes except information that is hard to swallow. The truth is that the Caribbean is not a first destination for anyone to study medicine and you are digging yourself in a deep hole already by becoming an IMG and trying to come back into the US market. If you lose your sense of entitlement at the door, you can focus on working harder than you ever have before for the 4 years of Medical School and you can find success. Due to the large class sizes at Ross, you may have to deal with students that have that mentally but as students fail out of the classes, it seems that the student body remaining has a decent clinical experience in the Caribbean and a portion of the Ross class is able to Match successfully.