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Should I attend a U.S DO med school or one of the top two Caribbean MD schools?

I am international student currently in the U.S on an F-1 student visa. I need to know how my residency placement will be affected especially as a non-US IMG coming from the Caribbeans. #medical-school

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Toluwanimi! This is a little bit of a complex question which I would like to break down. I've known of individuals who have graduated from Caribbean Medical Schools and landed substantial residencies in the U.S. However, there are some things to consider very importantly and seriously before attending a Caribbean Medical School. First, I just want to bring some light to the DO vs MD pathway, both are physicians and both take same exams and learn the same things in school, however there are differences in it. Some individuals because of low GPA/MCAT consider DO but you should only consider this pathway if you like it, you know what it is and you have actually shadowed a DO physician. It isn't a pathway just because you haven't done well academically. Many MD physicians actually take the holistic approach like DO physicians as medicine is evolving every single day. So ask yourself if you really want to become a DO for the right reasons and not because your statistics don't lie in the range for an MD. Moving past that, Caribbean Medical Schools are easier to get into than American MD Schools, however there have also been difficulties as well, you are moving to a completely different area, and the class systems can be different as well. Although this option my seem feasible, my advice to you is to research truly and speak with people who are in the medical schools you are interested in; as I've said there are students who complete it and do well, so it is doable but there are also others who take this step and unfortunately aren't as successful. Residency is harder to get into and more competitive as well so this is something to significantly consider. In addition, if you really want to be an MD and want to stay in the States then analyze your application, your MCAT, your GPA, your extracurriculars, look into them and see what you can improve. Take the MCAT again if you can, if your GPA is low consider a Master's or Post Baccalaureate program that even allows you to participate in extracurriculars and can have linkage programs to their school.
Lastly check out the websites below, they give more information about DO vs MD and Caribbean schools. If you are considering a Post Bacc or Master's check out AAMC.org they give more information about these matters. You stated you are an international student so maybe speak with your premed adviser and see if you status would be affected in these programs such as Master's. I believe if you have the visa it shouldn't. I wish you the best of luck to pursue your dreams future doctor!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-vs-md
https://www.prospectivedoctor.com/pros-cons-caribbean-medical-schools-2/
AAMC.org
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! you are very knowledgable. I will look into the DO vs. MD comparison and also look into more linkage programs. Toluwanimi
Thank you comment icon You're welcome, I wish you the best! Yasemin G.
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Andrea’s Answer

Hi Toluwanimi! The answer above is amazing. I would like to add: DO physicians do a lot of musculoskeletal work (called osteopathic manipulative medicine or OMM) which can be useful for fields such as orthopedics, sports medicine, family medicine or internal medicine. If you are interested in any of those specialties, go ahead and give DO schools a look. Most DO schools have students that match in surgical residencies (though it is extremely competitive). If you are interested in DO schools, shadow a DO physician, or look at their website to make sure this route is for you! You can generally find DO physicians to shadow by Google-ing "DO physicians near me" or by searching a local hospital's website and looking for a DO physician.
Aside from the schooling, take into account money (tuition and cost of attendance), location (will you be happy there), and other factors such as residency placement rates and board scores. Best of luck with your journey!

Andrea recommends the following next steps:

Check out: https://choosedo.org/
Thank you comment icon Thank you Andrea. Toluwanimi
Thank you comment icon You're welcome! Andrea Shugar
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Farhaad’s Answer

Hi! Congratulations on choosing a career in medicine. I am a US-trained MD with friends who have trained in many pathways. There are a few major considerations when deciding which path to take.

Firstly, DO degrees are not widely recognized internationally. If you plan to work outside of the United States, even for volunteer work, not every country will recognize your training.

Secondly, DOs practice medicine almost identically to MDs in most fields. Any difference in their education is mostly theoretical now. MDs and DOs practice alongside each other in every specialty.

Thirdly, DOs have established their own training programs in almost all fields. I have seen DOs have an easier time entering competitive fields, such as Dermatology, compared to those MDs who have trained in the Caribbean who also aspire to enter competitive fields. The vast majority of international MDs, unless possessing incredibly high test scores, will enter primary care subspecialties or easy-to-obtain residencies. In fact, Caribbean medical schools have partnerships with domestic training programs allotting them a limited number of rotation spots at hospitals here in the USA. These are almost exclusively primary care training spots.

Lastly, your title is forever. Most patients don’t know or care about the degree behind your name if you provide good care. But a small, 1% of patients will make a fit about how DOs “aren’t real doctors”. These patients are challenging even for MDs to take care of.

Hope this helps.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Farhaad. I love the honest insight you brought to the topic. I am an international student so I think it's best for me to go the Caribbean MD route and strive to add to my prior US connections to make myself a suitable candidate for a competitive specialty. Toluwanimi
Thank you comment icon Best wishes to you. Many people apply broadly and make a decision later once they have all out their opportunities in front of them. The difference of a scholarship, location, immigration status and requirements, etc may change your mind. Keep your options open! Farhaad Riyaz
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