I've surprisingly received quite a bit of internet traffic on my blog this past week after my POST about Josh's trouble in the Match, in part due to the fact that he is an international graduate. I believe the post sheds some light on some of the difficulties of being an IMG as well as the challenges and hurdles that every medical graduate must face along the road to becoming a doctor. There is and unfortunately will probably always be a stigma associated with being a foreign grad. And so, it sparked the obvious question, given the choice, would we do this all over again? Should anyone, especially a US citizen, consider matriculating in to an off shore medical school?
To be honest, I feel that this is such a personal decision that cannot be answered by any one person. As with anything in life, there are pros and cons that must first be weighed to determine the best answer for you. However, here is our experience.
Josh just didn't get offered an acceptance to a US medical school. Whether that was due to an average undergraduate GPA, average MCAT scores, or something else entirely, he was never given the chance to go to medical school on American soil. Perhaps he should have applied a second time. Perhaps he should have retaken the MCAT again. Maybe he would have been better off redoing undergraduate pre-reqs, but he was 24 years old, newly married, and ready to start down the long road to completing his dream of becoming an MD. And St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies gave him the chance to do it. It is extremely hard to pass up an offer to obtain your dream career when it is being handed to you, even when it is attached to a $200,000.00 price tag.
In hindsight, we were young and naive and we thought to ourselves, SGU is a US accredited program, he's a US citizen, and he will take the same exact boards, we should have no problems. Well, SGU did what they promised us. We paid them a lot of money and Josh and his class of over 500 students studied hard, passed classes, did two years of clinical rotations in American hospitals, passed boards, and applied to residency just like every other AMG student. Obviously, from my last post, you can see that the residency part of becoming a doctor has been one of our biggest challenges, however, it did work out. And it does work out the first time around for over 80% of SGU's graduates. If you want to see just how SGU is matching their students each year, you can check out this SGU MATCH LIST 2014. What you will see from this list is that most SGU grads match into primary care at non-University based programs (Internal Med, Family Med, Psych, Peds). The point is that these graduates are making it to the MD, just maybe not the super specialized ones.
What we find most disturbing about the residency application process is that these students, especially ones trained at US accredited medical schools like SGU, Ross, and American University of the Caribbean, take the SAME EXACT boards, receive all of their clinical training at American hospitals and therefore receive letters of recommendation from US doctors, and yet still are considered second class choices for US residency positions because of the location of the medical school that they went to. Are the USMLE's somehow a different test when IMG's sit for them? Are the doctors at the hospital Josh rotated through training the SGU students in a different way than the medical students from Loma Linda University that rotate right alongside them? The answer is absolutely not. But, until more residency positions are opened across the US, or until the playing field is neutralized to take the strongest applicants regardless of the school they graduated from, this will likely remain the same and obviously, that is something to consider if you are contemplating attending an off-shore school.
With all that being said, our answer to the question, would we do this again?
In a heartbeat.
My husband is Joshua Scurlock, M.D. And though those two little letters cost us a lot of money and a ton of blood, sweat, and tears along the way, he is now a doctor. We are confident there really was never a choice of attending SGU vs. not becoming a doctor. The United States is the land where you follow your dreams, even if that means following them outside of the US.