In today’s episode, I shed light on a question from a poster who dropped out of a Caribbean medical school in the past.
Specifically, what are your chances of getting into a U.S. medical school when you previously went to a Caribbean school, failed the first semester, and dropped out?
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.
Our poster this week is someone who applied to medical school after completing an MPH degree and didn’t get into any U.S. medical schools. He then decided to forego reapplication and went to a Caribbean medical school instead.He didn't pass the first semester of Caribbean med school, and then he decided to drop out. Click To Tweet
He didn’t pass the first semester of Caribbean med school, and he had to repeat the entire semester. But thinking it through, he found that he wasn’t in a conducive environment for studying.
Because of that, combined with the fact that his residency chances in the U.S. wouldn’t be great as a Caribbean grad, he bailed on his program. He dropped out of his Caribbean medical school.
He decided to work harder, get smarter, and hopefully reapply at a U.S. medical school. But is it worth taking a chance and reapplying to medical schools? What else can be done, and how can you address the fact that you already started medical school and then dropped out?
How is a Master’s in Public Health viewed by medical schools?
Just a quick side note before we get into the meat of the question: A Master’s in Public Health isn’t that strong of a master’s degree in terms of demonstrating academic capability to medical schools.
An MPH degree doesn’t have enough of a focus on the hard sciences to really be a relevant degree, compared to your undergrad GPA in the prereqs. So that’s something to keep in mind as you’re evaluating what your grades are able to demonstrate to medical schools.
Why students go to Caribbean medical schools and then eventually decide to drop out:
It’s very common for students to drop out of Caribbean medical schools. As one Caribbean grad said in an interview for The Premed Years, “It’s easy to get into a Caribbean medical school, but it’s harder to stay in.”
Offshore schools are attractive to students, as they are publicly traded companies that accept nearly everyone and do a lot of advertising.'It's easy to get into a Caribbean medical school, but it's harder to stay in.'Click To Tweet
But Caribbean medical schools actually do have reasonably decent, rigorous medical education programs. And many of the students being accepted are not prepared for that. So a lot of students drop out at some point along the way. Attrition rates are very high at Caribbean med schools compared to U.S. schools.
[Related post: Caribbean Medical Schools: What You Need to Know.]
Some questions to consider:
Is it worth the expense of going through a Special Master’s Program (SMP) at this point? It is one possible way forward for you. Listen to episode 155 of OldPreMeds Podcast for more on when to consider an SMP.
Can you take higher-level biomedical courses (high-level undergraduate or beginning graduate courses), not for a degree but just to show medical schools that you can do well in them?
How to discuss your case of dropping out of medical school:
You need to be able to explain what happened with dropping out of medical school the first time in the Caribbean.
Your explanation might go something like this: Being allured by your desire to be a doctor and not thinking, you rushed in. Then you realized for many reasons that it was not going to be an environment that you were going to do well in the long term.
In short, you just have to lay it all out there. Don’t try to hide something you can’t hide. Don’t even try to minimize it. Own your mistakes, and demonstrate that you’ve addressed those weaknesses in the time since then.Don't try to hide something you can't hide. Don't even try to minimize it. Own your mistakes.Click To Tweet
Should you discuss why you dropped out in your personal statement?
Make your medical school application a coherent, concise, and compelling narrative showing your motivation, commitment, and achievement to become a doctor.
Dropping out of medical school is a glaring red flag that you must discuss in a paragraph in your personal statement. That said, don’t spend the entire application talking about it. Do leave room for the rest of your story. They can always ask you more in your interviews.
[Related episode: Should I Write About Red Flags in My Personal Statement?]
What are your chances?
Your chances are low, but that doesn’t mean you don’t stand any chance. You can’t change your past, but you have to go forward doing the best you can. There’s always a chance.Your chances are low, but that doesn't mean you don't stand any chance.Click To Tweet
So many schools are now giving completely unscreened secondaries, so you have more of a chance to develop your story and discuss this in your applications.
Advocate for yourself. Build relationships with admissions committee members and others who can open doors for you.
Links and Other Resources:
- Check out our Nontrad Premed Forum, and ask a question of your own!
- Related episode: Rejected From the Caribbean! Now with a U.S. Acceptance!
- Related episode: DO vs Caribbean Medical School? What Should I Do?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!