Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Friends,
A week ago I sent you a letter outlining the situation with the deans of New York medical colleges demanding that the prevalence of students from Caribbean students in New York hospitals be reviewed by the New York State Board of Regents.
The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article on the situation. Today, The New York Times published an article on the same topic. This article highlights the fact that St. George’s University has excellent students who were unable to get a seat in a US medical school. It also highlights the need to review the academic standards of Caribbean medical schools that places medical students in New York hospitals.
We laud this effort at tightening up the standards. We think it is necessary and have thought so for some time. Please listen to the radio interview. One of the issues facing St. George’s is that all Caribbean schools tend to be lumped together; certainly the “Big Three” are lumped together. But all Caribbean schools are not equal, and St. George’s outshines all the other schools in any quantifiable performance outcome. The article mentions a 75 percent pass rate for foreign trained students in the Clinical Knowledge section of the USMLE II. SGU students had a 88 percent first time pass rate on this exam during the 2008–2009 academic year. Also, St. George’s pass rate for all first-time takers of USMLE I in 2009 was 91 percent (2009 was the last complete year of examinations). This score represents the pass rate for all 917 students who took the examination for the first time in 2009. There are no disclaimers or qualifiers on this number, unlike the disclaimers/qualifiers we see for other international schools.
When it comes to pass rates, we have had years of setting the record straight about the misrepresentations of many international medical schools. In 1983, JAMA published a report which showed that St. George’s had the highest initial pass rate for any international school with a substantial number of US test takers during a 10-year period up to 1982—we were then only five years old. Since that time, there has been no external report of the examination results for 25 years. In October of 2008, the journal Academic Medicine published a 15-year study of USMLE first-time pass rates. It shows clearly that Grenada clearly outperforms the Caribbean countries; the closest private Caribbean country performed 14 points below Grenada students over the 15-year period.
I just spoke with a past president of a New York medical school who called to speak about this article and its implications. He told me that our most important task was to differentiate ourselves from many of the other schools, to hold our heads high, to be proud of the performance of our students and graduates, and to continue to show the world how well our graduates are doing in a health care system with a serious shortage of physicians.
You should all be proud to be a part of this great University. I know I am. I wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday season and best wishes for the New Year.
Charles R. Modica