Caribbean Medical Student Issues

Not All Is Well in Paradise

Earning a medical degree from a Caribbean medical school can be a great way to enter medical practice in the United States. The education can be rigorous and cost-effective, and the ocean environment is conducive. A Caribbean medical school may also be the candidate's only available route into a highly desirable US medical practice. About one-quarter of U.S.-licensed physicians graduated from international medical schools, many of them from Caribbean schools. But getting through a rigorous and rewarding Caribbean medical school is not the candidate's only challenge. Caribbean medical school graduates can face extra challenges that graduates of US medical schools do not face. Caribbean medical school graduates can even face biases from licensing officials, making for an unfair and even discriminatory licensing process. Retain medical school defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento if you face obstacles getting your US medical license after earning your Caribbean medical school degree. Skilled and experienced help is available for international medical students. Attorney advisor Lento knows both medical education issues and international student issues.

Beyond ECFMG Certification

Graduates of Caribbean medical schools are already well familiar with ECFMG certification. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certifies international medical graduates to enter US medical residency programs and sit for the Step 3 US Medical Licensing Exam. The Educational Commission also helps Caribbean medical graduates apply for US medical residencies and obtain J-1 visas if the graduate is not already a US citizen. The Educational Commission also conducts a verification service for those residency programs and for state medical boards as to the Caribbean medical graduate's credentials. The Educational Commission's Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) enables Caribbean medical graduates to prove their qualifications not only to residency programs and employers but also to state medical licensing boards. And therein lies the Caribbean medical graduate's extra challenge. Obtaining ECFMG certification and entering and completing a US medical residency doesn't qualify the Caribbean medical graduate for licensure. The graduate must also obtain a license from a state medical board.

State Medical Licensure

Government regulation of medical practice, like the regulation of other professions, is primarily a state, not a federal issue. Caribbean medical graduates pass the US Medical Licensing Exam and satisfy other national medical standards. Medical practice standards are largely national, not local. But US states, not a federal authority, ensure that individual physicians meet those national standards. State legislatures enact laws that require physicians practicing within the state to obtain and maintain a state medical license. New York's medical practice act is an example stating, "Only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under this article shall practice medicine or use the title 'physician.'" Practicing without a medical license is professional misconduct subject to declaratory ruling, cease and desist order, and severe sanction, including the inability to later obtain a license. State medical boards like the one in New York's Office of the Professions issue medical licenses, take public complaints against licensees, and provide license verification services. You don't have to attend a medical school within the state to get the state's medical license. Your Caribbean medical school degree may be a perfectly appropriate credential. But only expect to practice medicine in the US with a state license.

Resolving ECFMG Issues

A Caribbean medical graduate's ability to resolve any ECFMG certification issues can go a long way toward obtaining a US state medical license. The candidate for ECFMG certification must show graduation from a Caribbean medical school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools with a special ECFMG-approved notation at the time of the candidate's graduation. That's one resolvable issue. ECFMG certification also requires an accurate online application. If your application has irregularities, that's another resolvable issue. ECFMG certification also requires passing the US Medical Licensing Examination's Step 1 exam, Step 2 clinical knowledge exam, and the Occupational English Test (OET) for medicine or the USMLE's former Step 2 communication skills (CS) component. That's another resolvable issue. Finally, the candidate must also avoid committing irregular behavior and subverting the ECFMG certification process. Irregular behavior can include: submitting falsified or altered documents; violating test-taking rules, policies, or procedures; false or misleading representations of online information; taking ECFMG exams when ineligible to do so; or falsifying ECFMG status to other entities. The ECFMG's policies and procedures on irregular behavior include procedures for resolving these issues. Retain medical school defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you resolve any ECFMG issue delaying your US state medical licensure.

State Medical Board Issues

While state medical boards may rely heavily on ECFMG certification, they still make their own decisions on medical licensure. As a Caribbean medical school graduate, your ECFMG certification may be in good order, and you may have even completed your US medical residency, but you can still face state medical board licensing issues. Here are some of the potential state medical board issues that Caribbean medical school graduates may face.

Caribbean Medical School Not on a State-Approved List

Your Caribbean medical school may not be on your state's approved list for various required components of your medical education. Just because the ECFMG recognizes your Caribbean medical school as approved in the