The Sept. 10 article by Janet Lorin on Caribbean medical schools contains many mischaracterizations about our institutions, but perhaps the most egregious is an outright omission of a critical academic outcome: The 96 percent first-time pass rate achieved by students at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and Ross University School of Medicine on Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam in 2012. This is the same rate posted by U.S. schools.
Another glaring omission concerns student debt. Lorin implies that students at our schools are a high financial risk, but the numbers say otherwise. The three-year cohort default rates for the schools are 1.6 percent at AUC and .8 percent at Ross, showing that graduates are securing employment and paying down their loans.
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Further, the article states that AUC and Ross are "not accredited by the body that approves medical programs in the U.S.," implying that our schools are not accredited at all. In fact, there is no U.S. accrediting body that reviews and accredits international medical schools. The U.S. Department of Education's National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation reviews the standards used by foreign countries to accredit medical schools and determines whether those standards are comparable to standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States. NCFMEA has reviewed the standards set by our schools' accreditors and deemed them to be comparable to those used to accredit U.S. schools. That's why AUC and Ross students are eligible for Title IV -- because we've met high academic standards -- not due to a "loophole."
Ross and AUC graduates are practicing in every state in the U.S., many of them in areas of critical need like primary care. For example, in Texas, 59 percent of AUC graduates practice in primary care specialties, the type of physicians most desperately needed in that state. With growing health care needs across the U.S., international schools like AUC and Ross will be critical to the success of our medical system.
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