It is a dream for many a meritorious student in India to pursue a course in medicine after completion of school education. Medical profession in India is endowed with an aura of social service and is considered noble. We are a vast country of 1.3 billion people, and there are large gaps in healthcare in the country. Despite being the largest producer of graduate doctors, there is a huge scarcity for medical professionals. It applies uniformly in both the Government Hospitals and the Private Corporate Hospitals. The paradox is that the latter has seen tremendous growth in the recent past and has transformed India into a destination for medical tourism with state of the art equipment and latest medical techniques at a marginal cost of similar treatments in the developed countries.
Pursuing medical education in the country is a challenge which most aspiring students fail to surmount. Recently mandated, cracking the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) is the only way to a medical college in India, more so the Government Medical Colleges, which is the primary sought after option. Studying medicine is a cost-intensive proposition, and the Government Medical Colleges score heavily over the private colleges on this score. Studying MBBS in a Private Medical College is financially daunting. A brief illustration will give a better comprehension of medical education in India.
|Comparison of Government and Private Medical Colleges in India|
|Parameter||Government Colleges||Private Colleges|
|Number of Seats||33260||30140|
|Fees per year||Rs.12K to Rs.1L||Rs.4L to Rs.25L|
|Total cost||Rs.5L to Rs.7L||Rs.50L to Rs.1.5C|
|Admission Procedure||Counseling||Counseling / College|
Apparently the Private Colleges match the Government Colleges in other parameters other than the cost of the course. That is only part of the story. There has been a spurt in the establishment of Private Medical Colleges in the recent past. It falls grossly short of the objectives for the following in most cases barring a few exceptions.
In such a scenario, thousands of aspiring students who have not been able to reserve a seat in either a Government Medical College or in a Private one due to cost constraints, are compelled to seek other options to fulfil their dreams of being a doctor.
This explains the reason why thousands of Indian students are making a beeline for offshore medical colleges across the world. West Indies has emerged as a viable option for Indian medical students for the many advantages offered by Medical Universities in the Caribbean countries.
West Indies holds a special place in the hearts of all Indians because of the game of cricket, which is a passion in both the countries. West Indies is a misnomer in the sense that it is a collection of many independent nations around the Caribbean Sea. Apart from the picturesque locales and their fondness for the game of cricket, West Indies is also a place to pursue medical education of world standards. You can study at a marginal cost as compared to Private Medical Colleges in India, yet opening up a world of opportunities on completion of the course. An Indian student can fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor in the Caribbean which offers such distinctive positive features as:
West Indies evokes many emotions for its natural beauty, easy-going citizens and the beats of Calypso that is popular across the Caribbean countries in the neighbourhood of USA. It is also famous for its impressive performances on the iconic field of Cricket, which has produced so many legends throughout the decades. Likewise there are a host of medical universities spread over the entire length and breadth of West Indies and who has not heard of the excellent medical facilities in Cuba. Let us pick some of the top universities which can be the destination of Indian medical student aspirants.
|Top Medical Universities ./ Colleges in West Indies|
|Name||Location||Accreditation Councils/ Recognized by|
|American University of Antigua||Antigua and Barbuda||USA, Canada, India|
|St. George’s University||Grenada||50 Countries and WHO|
|Xavier University School of Medicine||: Aruba||CAAM-HP, Ireland, Canada and India|
|Ross University School of Medicine||Barbados||CAAM-HP, USA and UK|
|Central America Health Sciences University Medical College||Belize||USA, UK, Mexico and WHO|
|St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine||Cayman Islands||NA|
|Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Sancti Spiritus||Cuba||NA|
|Avalon University School of Medicine||Curacao||CAAM-H|
|All Saints University School of Medicine||Dominica||WHO, FAMER, IMED|
|Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo||Dominic Republic||WDMS|
|University of French West Indies||French West Indies||NA|
|University of Guyana||Guyana||CAAM-HP|
|Green Heart Medical University||Haiti||WHO and NAC|
|The University of West Indies, Faculty of Medicine||: Jamaica||CAAP-HP|
|Seoul Central College of Medicine||Montserrat||NA|
|Saba University School of Medicine||Saba||USA, NVAO|
|Medical University of Americas||St Kitts and Nevis||NY and ACCM|
|Spartan Health Sciences University||Saint Lucia||NA|
|Trinity School of Medicine||Saint Vincent and the Grenadine||IMED, WDMS, and CAAM-HP|
|American University of Caribbean School of Medicine||Saint Maarten||ACCM|
|University of the West Indies Faculty of Medicine||Trinidad and Tobago||NA|
The list is not exhaustive as there are many more medical universities all across the region. A thing to note is that most of them are relatively new establishments sporting state of the art campuses. Indian students should consult the latest list of medical universities and colleges approved by the MCI before seeking admission. It is all the more necessary to avoid future complications.
The fee structure in the top medical universities in West Indies is lower than those offered by the Private Medical Colleges in India. Is it not a good idea to avail of international education for a marginal cost back home? Let us consider the fees offered by a few of the universities which will also give you the idea of what to expect.
|Tuition Fees in the some of the Top Medical Universities in West Indies in US$|
|Year||Name of the University||
Cost in INR
UD$ = 71 INR
|Victoria University Barbados||Lincoln American University||Bridgetown International University|
|First||8000||11000||8000||5.68L – 7.81L|
|Second||8000||6000||8000||4.26L – 5.68L|
|Third||7000||6000||7000||4.26L – 4.97L|
It is to be observed that the tuition fees across the universities even out at the end of the fifth year offering almost uniform quantum as total outgo. Apart from this, you will have to bear other expenses of which some are statutory fees for the university and your living expenses during the full term of the course.
MCI is the regulating body of medical education in our country. They are fully tuned to the aspirations of international medical students from India who pursue the course abroad. There is always a possibility of gullible students being duped into proceeding to unknown medical universities prodded by unscrupulous agents. The MBBS degree so obtained is practically useless at the end of the course, leaving you in the lurch. Every year, MCI publishes a list of approved universities across all the countries, where Indian students can proceed without fear. MBBS from an MCI approved university entitles you to practice freely in India after clearing a screening test.
|List of Medical Universities approved by MCI in 2019|
|Sl No||Name of the University||Country|
|1||All American Institute of Medical Sciences (AAIMS)||Jamaica, West Indies|
|2||American International Medical University||Saint Lucia, West Indies|
|3||American University of Antigua College of Medicine,||Antigua & Barbuda, West Indies|
|4||Bridgetown International University,||Barbados, West Indies|
|5||International American University College of Medicine||St. Lucia, West Indies|
|6||International University of Health Sciences||Saint Kitts, West Indies|
|7||Ross University School of Medicine||Dominica, West Indies|
|8||Spartan Health Sciences University,||St. Lucia, West Indies|
|9||St. Georges University,||Grenada, West Indies|
|10||St. James School of Medicine,||St.Vincent and Grenadines|
|11||The American University of Barbados||Barbados, West Indies|
|12||The University of West Indies||West Indies|
|13||Trinity School of Medicine of St. Vincent and Grenadines||St. Vincent and Grenadines, West Indies|
|14||Victoria University of Barbados,||Barbados, West Indies|
|15||Windsor University of Medical Sciences||West Indies|
|16||Windsor University School of Medicine||West Indies|
It is the dream of most doctors to be accredited in USA which offers the best opportunities in medical care and research. The eligibility criteria have been attuned to this requirement primarily.
This is the general eligibility criteria applicable to students other than India. For the Indian students aspiring to study MBBS in the West Indies, the criteria are:
Indian students are lucky as every Caribbean country has liberal norms for VISA. They provide initial VISA for one year to the aspiring student, which is then renewed on arrival or annually till the completion of the course. However, you can apply for VISA only on receipt of your admission letter from the medical university of your choice. The following documents are mandatory for the “VISA Invitation Letter”:
You must importantly note that having all the requisite documents in place will ensure a smooth application process. For an unambiguous comprehension let us consider the template for Visa application required for Windsor University School of Medicine in St. Kitts which will give an insight into the requirements applicable uniformly to most countries in the Caribbean. Thus make a careful note of the documents required. In case of any doubts it is always prudent to seek clarification from the Administrative Office of the University of your choice.
Important points to remember:
The admission procedures for MBBS in all the Caribbean countries are simplified. Consider the typical admission procedure in one of the reputed medical institutions in the West Indies – Victoria University in Barbados. Once you fulfil the eligibility criteria, you are required to apply through a completely filled Application Form along with other relevant documents to the University. All the application forms are evaluated and shortlisted, based on the performance credentials. If your name is shortlisted, you are informed over email. Upon receipt of the confirmation of your medical seat, you can proceed for VISA formalities before you embark on your journey to the University to study medicine. Let us break down the entire procedure into well-defined steps for easy comprehension.
The requisite documents have been elaborately discussed in the Visa section of this article. The following is just a summary for recapitulation.
Medical universities across the Caribbean countries have three intakes every year in January, May and September. You need to initiate the process from your end for at least two months before the start date of the course to accomplish the process of admission seamlessly.
Let us gain further insight into the process and the stages involved for better comprehension so that you are familiar with the different stages.
The admission process is very methodical,and you need to remember the steps and complete it sequentially. The source of this template is the Washington University of Barbados, but it will hold good for all the Universities in the West Indies offering MBBS.
Bankrolling your MBBS study to be a doctor is always a challenge because of the daunting expenses, which in the Caribbean can be in the range of Rs.30L to Rs.70L for the entire five years of your stay in the University, inclusive of tuition fees, accommodation, living, travel and miscellaneous expenses.
Though it compares favourably with the cost back home with the Private Medical Colleges, you stand to gain by earning a globally accepted MBBS degree. However, there are ample avenues open for you to mitigate your financial woes. Additionally, you are entitled to clear licensing tests like USMLE to join the Residency Program. It is lucrative enough for you to recover your expenses in a couple of years. Let us take a look at it.
For the list of scholarships, let us consider the provisions at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSOM), St. Kitts for an idea of the different scholarships on offer.
Medical Education in the Caribbean has come up only in the recent past, establishing a foothold in the sphere of quality medical education endowing the medical graduates with skills to be successful anywhere in the world. The curriculum is primarily based on the US and UK model aligning it with modern trends. The degree awarded at the end of five years is MD, or Doctor of Medicine.
In the West Indies, there are two types of medical schools: Regional and Offshore. The first is meant for the Doctors to work in the local country, while the second train students from the USA, Canada and India, where after graduation, they are expected to pursue a residency in their country of origin. For the Indian students, it is comfortable as they are free to pursue a career in medicine in India by clearing the screening test of MCI or Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) successfully. Additionally, the degree is enlisted with the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMs). Let us tabulate the benefits of studying MBBS in the Caribbean.
Like everything else in life, there are two sides to every coin. It is important to understand the drawbacks before applying to any university abroad. Also it is important to weigh these disadvantages against the benefits and make an informed decision.
Caribbean countries are an international tourist destination famed for its natural beauty and pristine beaches. Tourism and education are the two prominent industries common to all the countries in the region.
Geographically, the region comprises of the Caribbean Sea, its Islands and the coastal countries; The southern coast of USA binds it to the Northern coast of South America. While on the west lies the Central American countries and Mexico, the east opens into the Atlantic Ocean.
The islands are divided into three physiographic categories in a sprawling 2754 million square kms, broadly referred to as the West Indies.
|Caribbean Islands at a glance|
|Official language||English, Dutch, Spanish and French|
|Currency||East Caribbean Dollars, Bahamian Dollar, Barbadian Dollar, Jamaican Dollar, etc.|
|Time zones||CIST, CST, EDT and EST|
|Flight time from India||19 to 20 hours average|
|Duration of MBBS course||5 years|
|Medium of instruction||English|
The West Indies is an amalgamation of many cultures due to its long colonial history. It is reflected in the variety of spoken languages comprising of English, Spanish, French, Dutch and Antillean Creole. Indian students will find themselves at home due to the ease of communication and a large group of settlers of Indian origin who migrated during the colonial occupation to work in the plantations so common in those parts. Because of the high standards of Medical Education and other underlying advantages, it is an excellent choice for Indian MBBS students.
We have looked at various aspects of pursuing Medical Education in the Caribbean countries, which is an excellent destination for Indian students. Let us now consolidate all the information gathered and recapitulate the salient points.
You are already familiar with the fee structure in a Medical University in the Caribbean, but you also need to factor in the other expenses and the life you are going to spend in the campus during the course of study.
|Total expenses including fees in Bridgetown International University in US$|
|Year||Tuition fees||Food per year||Accommodation||Cost in INR|
|1||Admission (1st year only)||1000||0.71L|
|2||Processing (1st year only)||1000||0.71L|
|Note: 1 UD$ = 71 INR in August 2019|
As per the above table, your expense in the University is likely to be slightly upwards of INR 35L. You have to factor in miscellaneous expenses and the cost of travelling to and from India.
Campus life is an important feature when you are pursuing education far away from your home in an alien land. Let us consider the amenities at WUSOM, located in St. Kitts. The facilities may not vary too widely with other such Medical Universities in the Caribbean. The University office assists its students with issues like Housing, Transport, Visa, Health, career counselling as well as connecting them to student organisations to forge lifelong relationships.
When you choose to study MBBS in the Caribbean, you open a plethora of opportunities. Studying in one of the off-shore Medical Universities in the West Indies is reward enough, that too with a global Medical Graduate degree which enables you to practice medicine in the USA, Canada, In the Caribbean and India. Let us check the various options:
A: Medical Universities have three cycles in a year – January, May and September. You have to apply at least 2 months before your chosen cycle start date.
A: The process takes roughly 2-3 weeks, provided you have complied with the procedures correctly with all proper documents.
A: For one, you can purchase textbooks online. Look for sharing accommodation near the campus. That will save on your transport too. By all means, explore the surroundings, but eat out less.
A: Yes, Medical Universities in the West Indies permit.
A: The best way to reach the Caribbean countries is through the USA, specifically Miami.
A: It is generally tropical, varying to tropical savanna and tropical rainforest.
A: Yes, there may be. It is best to consult the admission packet for further information. At other times you can don casual tropical wear.
A: You need a pen torch, knee hammer, tuning fork, dissection kit and a stethoscope.
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