After years spent finishing your undergraduate studies and obtaining a degree at a Caribbean medical school-- medical residency is the next step towards your dream of becoming a fully licensed doctor. You finally get to apply what you’ve learned along your educational journey and strike out with that hard earned MD attached to your name.
You may be feeling excited, motivated, a little (or a lot) tired--and overwhelmed? Between completing your clinical rotations, preparing for graduation, taking USMLE® exams, and everything else in life, you may not be feeling ready for the complicated Residency Application Season required to participate in The Match®.
Common Residency Questions:
Caribbean International Medical Graduates
Once you graduate from your Caribbean medical school, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure, especially if your Dean’s Office is abroad or far away, and assistance with residency may be limited. With endless questions and many time sensitive actions to take care of during the Residency Application Season, it’s enough to leave your head spinning. This is especially true for those graduating as Caribbean International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who will have to jump through far more hoops to safely enter a residency position in July.
Caribbean International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are medical graduates who obtained their medical degree (MD) from a Caribbean Medical School. Caribbean IMGs can be either US citizens, or from other nations, and still be considered Caribbean. Being a Caribbean IMG candidate is one of the most unique positions residency candidates can be in. There are many additional strategies, considerations, and exceptions that are specific to Caribbean IMGs.
Advantages and Challenges:
Advantages of Being a Caribbean IMG
Programs will assume Caribbean IMGs have a strong English proficiency
Most Caribbean curriculums have built-in US clinical experience which is vital to have as an IMG
Proof of adaptability- Caribbean med grads learn how to handle entirely new environments and tough situations earlier than US students. Programs will know Caribbean grad can handle:
Caribbean IMGs are typically US citizens which means they do not have to worry about visas
Caribbean educational curriculums are often close to the US system such as classes and rotations structure
Challenges of Being a Caribbean IMG
Even if you are a US citizen, you will still be considered an IMG and subject to the challenges all IMGs face
State restrictions may limit where you can apply to residency and get licensed
Less support or no support during the ERAS residency application process, and NRMP® Match and Post-Match SOAP®
Education may differ from US medical graduates
Caribbean Medical Schools may have less or no connections or affiliations with US residency programs
Clinical rotations may be less structured and more chaotic, especially if you have to secure your own core or elective rotations
USMLE Exams are not always scheduled into your curriculum
Tips and Strategies for Success
Caribbean IMGs can find success in The Match® by following the tips and strategies below.
Still a Student?
If you have not graduated from your Caribbean Medical School, you can increase your future chances by:
Learning about the ERAS residency application process in advance
Studying hard for your USMLE Exams with enough time to take them before you apply to residency programs
Passing your USMLE exams within the first attempt
Performing well in your clinical rotations to obtain strong Letters of Recommendation
Caribbean IMGs are responsible for researching:
State restrictions (some states may not recognize certain medical schools)
Which medical specialties are IMG friendly
IMG friendly residency programs with requirements they qualify for
Apply like an IMG
It may be tempting to become over-confident as a Caribbean IMG, but you must maintain the perspective of an IMG applicant:
Work hard on your ERAS application
Secure specialty specific Letters of Recommendation
Write strong, specialty specific Personal Statements
Complete the MyERAS Application and ensure it is error free. Do not cut corners on the written sections such as the Hobbies or Experiences sections
Apply to the right residency programs
Focus on IMG friendly programs
Apply to enough programs
Try to apply to a minimum of 100 programs per specialty or more