In today’s topsy-survey world of healthcare problems, there is a proverbial silver lining: the perceived shortage among physicians in the U.S. and Canada is mitigated by the influx of Caribbean medical schools and their graduates, many of whom are equally qualified as their English-speaking mainland counterparts. That being said, graduates of any Caribbean medical university today make up more than 25 percent of the U.S. healthcare workforce.
Let’s examine some of the circumstances that have contributed to this shortage of physicians:
1– The evolution and shift in new medical paradigms have provoked shortages in the primary care and specialty fields of medicine. Where once one physician took care of virtually everything in the human body, today patients are referred to “specialists.”
2– A redistribution of physicians to medically under-served regions has siphoned doctors from areas of greater populations creating an imbalance of sorts.
3– Today, a scarcity of “for-profit” medical schools in the US exists; however, Caribbean medical schools often make up the difference as they form the majority of for-profit medical schools in existence.
4– Caribbean medical school students seem to have a deeper commitment to geriatric-related fields; more so than their U.S. or Canadian counterparts. In an environment where the aging population continues to grow exponentially, the needs are ever-present and growing by the minute.
5- With perceived trends indicating a shift towards socialized medicine, many physicians fear the loss of their professional standing, as well as quality medical standards, because of being now considered more of an employee and not a professional in private practice.
Stringent Requirements That Impede Further Advances From Caribbean Medical Schools
While it may seem as a “win-win” situation for mainland U.S. and Canadian physician shortages, the process of adding to the healthcare workforce is a long and difficult one; however, it’s not insurmountable.
For starters, even if the graduating Caribbean-based students do pass other critical requirements of residency and competency, they face a barrage of state requirements by individual boards such as those in Texas or California.
California and Texas both require official state approval for a medical school’s graduates to practice in their respective states. That being said, the Caribbean medical schools that California approves include schools in located in Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles in Aruba and St. Maarten. As for New York, a medical school university program is offered similar to that of California, but the New York approval program is contingency-based with residency requirements.
As can be noted, there are viable solutions to the physician shortage being presently experienced by both the U.S. and Canada. However, a maze of problems and requirements must first be met by a Caribbean medical university and medical schools in general.