Harvard. Johns Hopkins. Cornell. Yale. McGill. The University of Toronto. Sounds like a bunch of prestigious institutions with centuries of history and traditions. It’s one of the reasons why students pay a premium to attend these institutions, compared to other less known schools. Arguments can be made for and against this.
But when it comes to medical schools, does the same logic apply? Does a degree from Harvard Medical School hold more weight, open more doors, equate to more pay then, let’s say, St. George’s University in the Caribbean? Or is a degree from St. George’s University in the Caribbean better than a degree from number one ranked All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India? Again, we could argue the pros and cons for either.
At the end of the day, does it really matter (to the patient)?
By the time you’re actually practicing medicine, you’ll have done years of residency training, sat through a handful of licensing exams and medical boards and proven your worth. In clinical practice, most patients never start their dialogue with their physician with “Oh by the way, where did you go to medical school again?” or “Before I let you examine me, Doctor, what was your score on your USMLE Step 1?”
So again, we ask “Does it really matter where you go to medical school?” The answer isn’t as straightforward as you think. It really depends on a multitude of factors. If you’re the kind of person that wants to ‘get in and get out’ with the medical degree and don’t care about all the ‘other stuff’ then no, it doesn’t matter where you went to school. What matters is how well you do on those initial medical boards (USMLE) because the stronger your score, the better your chances of getting into a residency program.
Additionally, many people go to medical school to gain their medical degree so they can launch their career in another industry like big pharma, academia, and entrepreneurship. In these cases, having a medical degree provides credibility, leverage, and validation. After all, you will always write ‘MD’ after your name for the rest of your life. That’s pretty sweet.
Of course, there is a cost associated with this title. If your price-conscious, then you may not want to bury yourself in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which is what you’ll be in if you go to some of the more ‘well known’ schools.
Then there’s the cost opportunity. If you’re entering this field to make a lot of money, you might want to rethink that. Doctor live comfortable lives, let’s not forget that. But they also sacrifice a lot of it. Fortunately, in today’s world, you can make more than a doctor in a handful of industries if you have the smarts, determination, and know-how. Bankers & financiers, tech entrepreneurs, and real estate developers can all make more than physicians without spending years in school. So, you’ll really have to love medicine as a whole, without having money be a motivating factor, to enter this profession.
Among the schools in the Caribbean, our last tally was 38, the mast majority have all have successfully produced graduates who matched into residencies in either the USA or Canada. As we mentioned in earlier posts, the oldest schools are roughly 40 years old. On a global scale, that’s pretty young, when you compare it to the century-old institutions like Harvard, Oxford, University of Toronto, etc. Additionally, the curriculum across these Caribbean schools is fundamentally the same, with slight variations here and there but they all work to produce qualified physicians that can go on to practice anywhere in the world
At the Universal Medical College Application Service (UMCAS), we help aspiring physicians connect with medical schools in the Caribbean region in one simple, easy-to-use, online platform. Going through medical school is already stressful. But at UMCAS, we take the stress out of the application process. If you’ve already applied to medical schools in the USA or in Canada, then you’re already familiar with this kind of application portal. But if you aren’t, you’ll quickly realize how easy it is to set up your universal application so participating medical schools can see you in the best possible light! Check out the medical schools abroad that participate in our services.
If you liked this article, check out our earlier post on how to handle medical school depression.