Two Lessons on Symbiosis
American Global University is not accredited by any medical school accrediting association and not even FAIMER-listed, yet still advertises itself as the “Best Caribbean Medical School” and claims graduates can practice in the states when in reality they cannot.
Milik University turned out to be one-man team running the whole show. Dr. Nagy Milik is the founder, the admissions committee, the administration, the teacher, the financial aid advisor, and everything else that should be allocated to many people at a traditional university. There’s a reason why most of the pictures on his website are generic, and he doesn’t show actual students in actual classrooms on the website, or give any alumni testimonials.
St. Martinus University went bankrupt, its doors closed, and its handful of students are now either in a lot of debt or scrambling to find another school that would be willing to accept the credits… yet their website is still up, calling themselves the “Best caribbean medical school” (with a lower case c), trying to attract potential students who might fall into their trap.
As I read about the dozens of start-up med schools that are popping up here and there across the Caribbean, I shook my head. This is scary. Why would anyone want to go to a start-up school, in a temporary location, with an unstable academic infrastructure?
This leads me to lesson #1: For anyone looking into Caribbean schools, please do your research on the school first, and look beyond the school’s promotional websites. They are promotional, and take it with a grain of salt. For the real deal, look into what actual students have to say on forums. Although you can’t believe everything you hear in forums also, but at least there is usually more than one viewpoint present.
Not too long after, I came across a plaque in the rotunda of AUC, reminding me of my own school’s history.
Our school had a pretty rough start-up too:
1978: AUC founded by American Education Dr. Paul Tien
1978: Inaugural Class of 107 began in temporary location in Cincinnati.
1980: School moves to new campus on Montserrat.
1985: AUC gets California approval for licensure.
1989: Hurricane Hugo destroys campus. School moves to temporary location in Plainview, Texas.
1990: Montserrat campus rebuilt and school moves back.
1994: AUC becomes ACCM accredited.
1995: Montserrat Volcano eruption destroys campus, along with a third of the island, including the capital city of Plymouth.
1995: Half the school moves to temporary location in Belize, while the other half moves to temporary location in St. Maarten. Why this split? I don’t know.
1996: The entire school moves to a temporary location in St. Maarten, in a rented hotel.
1996: Work begins on a new St. Maarten campus, and this time, it is hurricane proof, with its own power plant, and water desalination plant. No natural disasters are going to bring down the school now!
1998: St. Maarten campus completed, and classes began here on May 1.
2003: AUC gets Florida and New York approval students to do rotations in those states.
2006: AUC’s medical program recognized by Texas for rotation purposes.
Today, in 2009, the school is considered one of the top three Caribbean medical schools. It has graduated well over 4000 doctors, practicing all over the globe in all specialties. It has a beautiful campus, great education and numerous community opportunities, strong alumni connections, and provides hope for many aspiring doctors. And it is growing.
Look how far it’s come.
And it took almost 30 years.
It is then that I realized that all start up schools need someone to be in their inaugural class, someone who believes in their school and are dedicated to make it succeed. This leads me to lesson #2: If you do choose to go to a start-up school, there is no doubt many uncertainties. But, if you and the school succeed, I commend you for your bravery, support, and your willingness to pursue medicine, no matter the environment. These are qualities of a good doctor, and it is students like you who made AUC where it is today.
The school’s success depends on the student’s success, and the student’s success depends on the school’s success. School and Students must share a mutual symbiosis to make both dreams happen.