Both Maletz and Reichgott worry that the clinical training students from offshore schools receive in U.S. hospitals is subpar because too many students are assigned to a given department of the hospital at a given time. (Under accreditation rules, U.S. schools are restricted in the number of students they can assign.) Dr. Jessica Freedman, who runs MedEdits, a medical-admissions firm, and has helped students apply to St. George's and other offshore schools, says that crowding is "one of the things students who go to Caribbean schools complain about most. They say they can't get access to the attendings, they can't get their procedures done."

Judy Wessler, director of the Commission on the Public's Health System, a city advocacy organization, does not share these concerns. "The reports I've seen say that the training is good," she says. Rather, she suggests, complaints about St. George's are an attempt to protect the arrangement in which city schools send students into HHC hospitals without paying HHC, even when they receive tuition dollars for the time they spend there.

"It makes me furious that these medical schools are screaming about St. George's paying HHC for training their students," Wessler says. "I've asked this question of a lot of people and never get an answer: Why do the New York schools get money for the time that the students spend at HHC hospitals and not share the money with HHC?"

Cameron K. Lewis
For $226,000, all this can be yours—and an HHC placement, too.
Courtesy St. George’s University Medical School
For $226,000, all this can be yours—and an HHC placement, too.

St. George's alumni such as Dr. Rokshana Thanadar, a 2008 graduate, also say fears about quality are unfounded. A former anatomy and physiology instructor who attended St. George's while in her thirties, Thanadar cites her age and a low undergraduate GPA as factors that limited her chances of being admitted to a U.S. school. Compared to the time she spent at Eastern Virginia Medical School studying for a master's degree in biomedical sciences, she says, "I found that other than walking out the door and seeing the Caribbean Sea, there wasn't that much of a difference."

Allen Reeves, who attended St. George's for three years before transferring to Northeast Ohio Medical University, concurs: "We use the same textbooks, we learn the same information, we take the same board exams, and—this was my experience before I transferred and after—we can hold our own with our U.S. counterparts."

Indeed, though medical schools have been popping up in the Caribbean with the frequency of high-rise hotels—some estimate that there are now as many as 60 for-profit Caribbean medical schools, some of which don't even require the MCAT for admission—St. George's, with its high rate of residency placement, stands out, as even Reichgott concedes: "If I had to pick a [Caribbean] school that I would say, 'This one's not so bad,' St. George's is the one that I would say is not so bad."

Even so, few St. George's students and alumni pretend their school's reputation matches that of U.S. schools. "The first thing you have to do is you need to exhaust all of your options onshore," Reeves says. "I don't think that for anybody I know their first thought when they decided, 'I want to be a doctor,' was to apply offshore."

Still, HHC's marketing campaign has drawn plenty of attention. "I saw an advertisement for it on the J train, and I looked it up," says Antoinette Allen, a Queens native and 2012 graduate of Columbia University. But Allen says that she'll probably try for admission to U.S. schools before applying for the CityDoctors scholarship: "My family is Caribbean. Going to school in America is the be-all, end-all. I think I would have a very difficult time explaining to my Jamaican parents why I'm going back to the Caribbean when they worked so hard to get here in the first place."

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