In our recent episode of the Med School Minutes podcast, supported by the Saint James School of Medicine, we had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with four current MD students. Our goal was to dive in and find out what life is like on the beautiful island of St. Vincent and why it is the favored home of so many international students looking for a rewarding healthcare career. Our guests covered so many topics, so let’s just skip all the formalities and get right to the good stuff for our readers to enjoy.
Why Come to St. Vincent?
For everyone out there considering the Caribbean for their medical education, St. Vincent seems like an odd choice. However, when we posed the question to our students, we found a wealth of carefully thought-out answers.
Not only does SJSM offer a much more affordable solution to a formal medical education, but the local life on the island provides students with the chance to dive into a culture they would not usually be exposed to. St. Vincent is not a touristy location like Anguilla. When you come to visit, you will experience a tight-knit community with unique foods, traditions, and philosophies compared to other places. It also doesn’t hurt to be in one of the most stunning settings of beaches and sunshine you could ever want.
These benefits attract a sizable multicultural student body which means you learn alongside peers from varying backgrounds. That allows your education to be informed by different ideas and perspectives, strengthening your practice in the real world.
Direct Involvement with the Community
Many medical students go to inner-city or urban-based schools, where most public interaction happens at the local hospital. At St. Vincent, there are outreach programs that directly involve the greater community. This could be going to an orphanage to offer vaccines or supporting local clinics and initiatives that need an extra hand.
This type of integration lays the foundation for those who wish to work in international settings like Doctors Without Borders. A lot of schools inside the U.S. are more focused on internal problems. At SJSM, you get direct knowledge of other cultures and geographic regions by working alongside international students who have lived through the stories most only hear about online.
That is a rare advantage to moving through a school system restricted to the ideas of a single country. And on top of that, the way you can see your impact on the local St. Vincent community every time you volunteer or work with a special program, and you can see why this opens the mind to new ideas while still cementing a recognized medical education.
The Love of the Outdoors
Student life on St. Vincent is much different than in other parts of the world. The Caribbean is gorgeous, offering all kinds of outdoor activities without the threats of dangerous animals or you would find in places like Florida.
Our guests talked about hiking up the side of a volcano, meeting up with friends on the beach, seeing wild parrots, snorkeling, and biting into fresh passion fruit from the tree. The island alone has more than 20 different species of mango and quite a few variations of coconut. There is a reason the Caribbean is known as paradise, and our student guests had no trouble discussing all of those benefits in detail.
The general cost of medical school is nothing to sniff at. While our student guests sacrifice time and money to achieve a career in healthcare, they also discussed the many benefits of living on the island as far as money is concerned. We had guests from Canada and major cities like Chicago, where the cost of a sandwich is $18 USD compared to incredible meals you can grab for lunch on St. Vincent for pennies on the dollar.
Not to mention, the food is way fresher. Instead of pre-packaged meats and canned fruit, you are treated to local BBQ and delicacies made with family recipes passed down from one generation to another. A quick stop for a bite to eat is a whole other experience than a major city because you get your fill without feeling like you have just swallowed a brick. Between the amazing smells and mouth-watering flavors, St. Vincent has a lot to offer any guest, including those medical students who decide on SJSM.
A Place of Safety to Study
The last thing we should mention is pretty crucial for those that have not been to the island before. The locals here are very welcoming. SJSM has a stellar reputation with the community because of all the work students put into initiatives and other groups that help foster a higher quality of life. Businesses treat students here the same as any other local. Sometimes you hear about islands around the world that treat foreigners poorly, but on St. Vincent, there is this energy of invitation that is honored no matter where you travel.
In the end, we all agreed this is a great place to learn, full of accommodating people and unique culture that only broadens your background while you study to become a doctor. Be sure to check out this episode of the Med School Minutes podcast in full to hear more about the detailed student life Saint James School of Medicine has to offer. Thank you to our student guests and to all our readers out there on the interwebs – we hope you get the chance to visit such a wonderful place!