In both Canada and the United States, tens of thousands of students apply to medical schools every year. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to get in. 

Not only are the tuition fees high and the material challenging, but rejection rates for medical students are particularly high across North America. If you’re a prospective medical student, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a good chance you won’t be accepted to a medical school in Canada or the U.S. At least not on your first try.

So what should you do if you want to study medicine in Canada but are worried you won’t even be able to get in? If you do get rejected, should you wait and try again the following year, or give up on your dreams of studying medicine altogether? 

What about doing medical school abroad? Is that an option?

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Medical School Rejection Rates in Canada and the U.S.

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First, let’s take a look at the numbers. 

For those living in Canada or the United States, applying to and being accepted by a medical school in your home country represents a huge success. That said, it is much less common than you may think, and the statistics are sobering. 

Last year in the U.S., 53,000 individual applicants submitted over 900,000 separate applications, for an average of 17 applications per student. Only 40% of American applicants were eventually accepted by at least one medical school on their list, leaving 60% of American students on the outside looking in. 

In Canada, the situation is even more challenging. Last year, a full 80% of its 14,000 medical school applicants were rejected. Overall, the numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for Canadians interested in becoming a doctor. Not unless they are willing to consider an international medical school as an option.

Medical School Abroad: A Great Potential Option


If you’re one of the many US or Canadian students passionate about studying medicine, it’s important to have a plan if you find yourself rejected from the United States or Canadian medical schools you apply to. 

However, to create a plan, you need to think a little bit more deeply about your longer-term plans, what you want to achieve with your medical degree, and where you want to practice medicine in the future. 

For example, if you want to work in Canada or the United States after you study abroad, you need to do your research and make sure that the foreign school or university you attend is properly accredited. It’s important to do this so that you can be granted permission to work in the geographical area you plan on living after graduation, and will save you the time it takes jumping through bureaucratic hoops to gain official certification.

Weighing Your Options: What to Consider for Medical School Abroad

Some of the major considerations you should consider when choosing between foreign medical schools are:

  • The quality of the education at the foreign medical school or university
  • The accreditation level of the foreign medical schools you apply to
  • The opportunity and ability for medical graduates to join residency programs back home
  • The research and mentorship opportunities for medical graduates
  • The tuition fees and other related costs of living abroad
  • The proximity and ease of travel between the foreign school or university and your family

Location, Location, Location


If you’re a Canadian or a United States citizen that wants to study medicine abroad, you’ll have to weigh a number of options, all mentioned in the bullet-point list above. Everyone’s situation is different, and so the relative importance of each of the items will vary from person to person. 

However, if you believe that it would be best to start by choosing a general location, options abound around the world. There are European universities to explore, schools in the UK, amazing medical schools and programs in the Caribbean, international medical schools in Australia, Ireland…and the list goes on.

However, to help narrow down the choices, let’s assume that a North American student applying to pursue studies abroad wants to check off the following must-haves from his or her list: 

  1. Be physically close enough to North America be able to fly home quickly and easily
  2. Receive a high quality education
  3. Have the opportunity to apply for residency back home
  4. Be accredited to work in Canada or the United States after graduation

If that is the case, then United States or Canadian students studying medicine abroad should strongly consider the Caribbean as their location of choice! 

There are a number of very high-quality international medical schools to choose from including American University of Antigua College of Medicine, and a great many graduates of these international medical programs go on to wonderful careers as doctors once they return home.

The Importance of Proper Accreditation


It may seem odd at first glance, but did you know that when it comes to licensing doctors in Canada and the U.S., there is no single standard by which medical boards and federal authorities make decisions? It’s true! 

In the U.S., the granting of licenses is controlled by the medical boards of each of the 50 individual U.S. States, and the same goes for the Canadian provinces and territories. They each have their own sets of rules by which they judge the quality of aspiring doctors to practice in their respective communities and jurisdictions. 

While this information doesn’t vary too much year by year, it is technically subject to change at any time. For this reason, it is always best for prospective students to verify directly with the medical boards of the regions in which they are interested in eventually practicing. You can find that information here for the United States, and here for Canadian provinces and territories

American University of Antigua College of Medicine, for example, has all the accreditations a Canadian or American student needs to be able to practice back at home once their studies have concluded and they are ready for residency.

International Medical Schools: Be Residency Ready

Certain Caribbean medical schools (such as the American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine) have excellent records of success placing graduates in residencies at prestigious teaching hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

Students studying medicine abroad at the AUA College of Medicine are well-rewarded, and have gone on to be chief residents, earn significant awards, and obtained competitive fellowships. See for yourself, and explore their list of recent residency placements here.

The point is, whether you decide to learn in the Caribbean or elsewhere, make sure to look into the success of their students, and only choose a school that has a record of success.

Medical Schools Abroad: Quality is Key

Because studying medicine is so popular – and because there is a limited amount of space in medical schools across North America – getting started on your medical degree can be harder than you think.

Luckily, there are a lot of options for those interested in pursuing a medical education, even if that involves studying abroad at international medical schools. 

Need More Information about American University of Antigua?

If you’re a Canadian student or aspiring doctor that wants to learn more about AUA, visit the school’s website. There, you can learn more about the application process, the costs, the requirements, scholarship options, or simply explore the AUA campus, and what it means to live in Antigua.