Saba Medical School – Insider Review
Saba Medical School is another of your options when you are considering Caribbean medical schools. Here is some information you should know about this particular medical school in the Caribbean.
Saba Medical School (Saba University School of Medicine) is located in The Bottom, Saba, in the Caribbean.This Caribbean medical school was founded in 1993 and has enrolled about 1500 MD students since that time.
The school’s website is available here.
- Rolling admissions. Saba University School of Medicine has rolling admissions. You can enroll in September, January or May. This is a definite plus for you as a potential medical student since at the end of any semester of undergraduate you could directly start Saba medical school.
- Bachelor’s Degree Not Required. Saba does not require you to have a bachelor’s degree. You need only complete 3 years of undergraduate work to meet admissions criteria. The required classes are similar to those of most medical schools and include one year of biology, anatomy or zoology, one year of inorganic chemistry with lab, one year of biochemistry/organic chemistry with lab. Students who complete cell biology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, physics, statistics and psychology are given preference in admissions.
- MCAT required for US students. It is not required for international students, but highly recommended. This is especially true if you have been out of school for over 5 years, did science work at a community college or with C grades or lower.
- Patient care required. For Saba University School of Medicine, you need to have at least 50 hours of direct patient care. This will help you with admission to other medical schools as well.
- Selection criteria. Similar to other medical schools, Saba looks for students with a commitment to learning, intellectual curiosity,
responsibility, ethics and morals, a commitment to service and interest in health care. You can make these stand out in your interviews and your personal statement. Click on the links to see how to do this well.
- Tuition. Tuition is $14,000 to $15,850 per semester. There are also multiple fees due. Click here for full information. The total cost for the four years is $109,475, which is less than US medical schools and less than St George ($220,403), Ross ($175,700) or AUC ($170,250).
- Eligibility for Aid. Canadian students are eligible for Federal loans through the ministry of education. US Citizens and all other foreign students will have to apply for private loans. This is a disadvantage compared to other Caribbean medical schools, as others do qualify for federal loans.
- Cost of Living. Rent is affordable, although for the first semester of classes you are required to live on campus at either $1800 for the semester for a shared room or between $2200 and $3250 for a single room. After the first semester, fully-furnished houses start around $500 for a studio/one bedroom apartment and $1200-$1500 for a 3-4 bedroom house.
- Different culture. If you are coming from the United States, you will face a very different culture and environment in Saba. There is less access to things we take for granted in the United States, such as clean water, places to shop, places to do laundry, etc. The school’s website recommends that you bring things along with you if they are “must haves,” like a certain brand of food.
- Saba Medical School has an impressive Step 1 Pass Rate. Compared to other Caribbean medical schools, Saba students had a pass rate of over 95% in 2008. The site also states that over 20% of Saba graduates have been selected as Chief Residents or for sub-specialty fellowships. These are positions that are highly regarded in medicine. For more on this, visit this page about med school FAQ.
- Middle of the Road Class Size. Saba medical school accepts about 95 students per year. For comparison, UCLA medical school has about 160 in each class.
- Lectures are required
- Hospital rotations done throughout USA.
During your thrid and fourth year of medical school, you will rotate through different hospitals doing specific rotations (pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, etc.). When you attend Saba medical school, you will do your rotations in different places throughout the United States instead of staying locally. For a list of affiliated hospitals, click here
- Most graduates match into primary care specialties with few in competitive subspecialties. To understand which specialties are more competitive, click here and choose specialties in the top right corner. If you review Saba medical school’s match list here , you will see that most match into specialties like family medicine and internal medicine. In the 2011 class, there was only one surgical subspecialty match (orthopaedic surgery) with no residents matching into ophthalmology or otolaryngology. Also, no residents matched into dermatology.
- More difficult to match into competitive residencies.
US medical school graduates have top priority in matching in residency programs, making it more difficult for international students to get into competitive programs. Just one of those things!
In my mind, Saba medical school has similar pros and cons to any Caribbean medical school, which you can view here. In my mind, these schools are a great choice if you are planning on going into a primary care specialty, are not quite as competitive with your MCAT and GPA, and do not mind living in an area with a lower standard of living than what you might be used to.
Saba medical school does have the disadvantage of not being able to qualify for US Federal financial aid, which may result in your paying a lot more in interest.
Saba medical school has the advantage of having a very high USMLE Step 1 pass rate, which is something to be aware of. They did match someone into Orthopaedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, which is very impressive.