Medical Education in the Caribbean: Variability in Medical School Programs and Performance of Students

van Zanten, Marta; Boulet, John R.

Section Editor(s): Peters, Antoinette S. PhD; Frye, Ann W. PhD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318183e649
Evaluating Educational Programs

Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the structure of medical training programs in the Caribbean and the performance of the students.

Method: There are 56 medical schools in 16 countries currently recognized and open in the Caribbean. Almost 30,000 students from this region applied for exams leading to Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification between 1993 and 2007. The authors summarized school characteristics and pass rates on United States Medical Licensing Examinations, by country.

Results: The structure of medical education varies across the region, including existence of accrediting bodies and review processes. First-attempt pass rates by country ranged from 19.4% to 84.4% for Step 1, from 26.3% to 79.7% for the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge Examination, and from 60.6% to 97.2% for the Step 2 Clinical Skills Examination.

Conclusions: There is significant variability in undergraduate medical education and the performance of students of medical schools in Caribbean nations.

Author Information

Correspondence: Marta van Zanten, MEd, FAIMER, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail:(

© 2008 Association of American Medical Colleges