Rejected to US Medical School… What Are My Options?

Being accepted into a medical school in the US has been increasingly competitive, with the average acceptance rate for fall 2015 being 6.9 percent, among 115 ranked medical schools, (Source). Average MCAT scores have risen to 507 (30-31 for old MCAT). The total number of applicants to medical school rose by 6.2 percent to 52,550, exactly double the percentage increase from the previous year. First-time applicants—an important indicator of interest in medicine—increased by 4.8 percent to 38,460. (Source)

With high competition, not all those who are interested in becoming a physician are accepted to US medical schools. If you are rejected, where are your best options to go to medical school?

If you are rejected, what is your next best option?

There are over 2500 medical schools in the world and it’s difficult trying to find the perfect fit for your medical career. Many students enroll in medical schools in the Caribbean (off-shore medical schools) and take their clinical rotations at various hospitals in the USA. Some medical schools in the Caribbean have strong clinical elective programs in which they arrange clinical rotations for the students, and other medical schools in the Caribbean have students find their own clinical electives with little guidance.

It is no secret that there is a stigma attached to attending a medical school in the Caribbean. Some US medical schools do not accept students from Caribbean schools and other medical schools do not accept students for clinical electives from off-shore medical schools. However, on the bright side, there are many medical schools in the Caribbean that adequately prepare students for the USMLE.  Below are some recommendations or things to consider when looking for Plan B.

Consider applying to an Osteopathic (DO) medical school.

There are 33 DO medical schools and many of the DO physicians work side by side with MDs in clinics and hospitals. Both DO and MD medical schools have two years of basic sciences, however, the DO curriculum emphasizes prevention, health education, and the mind-body as a whole component. Applying to DO schools typically have less strict admissions requirements than MD schools. Despite all of the positives in attending a DO medical school, some students believe that through all of those years of school, an M.D should be behind their name, many people do not know what a D.O stands for. However, these are only opinions from some medical students, not all.

Be sure to go to a medical school that has a very strong clinical clerkship program.

Regardless of where you go, if your ultimate goal is to practice in the US, it is important to ensure that your medical school has a robust and strong clinical clerkship program. This is determined by whether they have strong partnerships with US medical schools so that 4th-year medical students can complete clinical rotations in US hospitals.  Many students went to medical schools in the Caribbean where they were responsible for arranging their own clinical electives in their 4th year. Students can spend up to months finding and researching clinical electives in the USA and with exams and classes, they do not need the extra burden.

Questions to Ask Potential Medical Schools

  • Does the medical school have strong partnerships or affiliation agreements with other medical schools?
  • Does the medical school have clerkship coordinators or advisors to help students find opportunities?
  • Does the medical school prepare you for the USMLE or offer some kind of USMLE preparation courses?

Here are some high caliber medical schools to consider that have strong ties to US medical schools:

  • University of Queensland and Ochsner Health System
  • Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
  • Duke University’s partnership with the National University of Singapore.
  • UC- San Diego and Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (PUGSOM).

Consider Medical Schools in the UK and Ireland:

There are a number of medical schools in the UK and Ireland and their medical school counterparts in other countries. Although tuition in the UK and Ireland is almost equal to US tuition, you will be receiving an MBBS (M.D equivalent) degree once graduated.

Obtaining a Medical Degree from the UK and Ireland:

  • RCSI College of Surgeons, Ireland or Bahrain – RCSI Bahrain was accredited by the Irish Medical Council.
  • University of Nicosia
  • Li Kong Shian in Singapore
  • RCSI – Perdana University


Apply and join the discussion today!

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  1. Nevis (and other Caribbean and Central American Countries)

    My son, Peter Egan, has a friend who enrolled in medical school in Nevis (a Caribbean volcanic island) after being declined by numerous US-based schools. Within two weeks he and a friend who was with him visiting and helping him get acquainted were detained by authorities and held in custody until one of their fathers showed up with what can only be described as "ransom money."


    Needless to say after that ordeal the young man was ready to return to a first-world country, withdrew from med school in Nevis and enrolled in culinary school in the US. The man now runs a catering business and manages a restaurant in Louisiana.

    That said, there are many people who attend medical school outside of the united states, and their credentials are almost universally accepted by respective state and federal boards and accrediting associations.

    Another option is to reapply every year until you gain acceptance. I know another person who failed 4-5 years consecutively (he naturally came across – unintentionally – as condescending, and kept failing the interview portion). He finally realized the flaws in his communication style and took a speaking course to help correct it, and passed the interview portion the following year, allowing him to enroll five years after he first applied.