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I (actually my cousin) just received an offer letter from SJSM-Anguilla to study MD. They are saying that they are accredited in the Carribbean, and after completing the program, the students can do residency and practice in the USA.

However, my cousin doesn't have any science background. He never studied math, chemistry, physics, or biology in his life. The address of the admission office is from the USA. Another thing suspicious is, the offer letter doesn't have any serial/identification number.

How to assess whether this is legit?

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    They wanted $1000 in three days (due on Christmas). Hmmmmm….. Did your cousin actually apply?
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 28, 2022 at 15:59

2 Answers 2

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Saint James School of Medicine seems legit. It is a private, for-profit medical school. They appear on Wikipedia's list of medical schools in the Caribbean, and they are ECFMG eligible, meaning that their graduates may be considered for residencies in the US (and, it seems, Canada as well). The letter also seems legit, in that they are directing you to send payment to the school, not to some random Venmo account.

The catch is that actually getting a residency in the US can be quite difficult. At reputable schools in the US, it is typical for 95% of students to match. At schools like St. James, the number is closer to 65%.

I notice also that they claim 89% of their students passed the USMLE (licensing examination) on the first try, but Wikipedia reports that the real number is closer to 35%. The discrepancy is explained by the fine print -- the 89% only counts students who got 195 or higher on the Comprehensive Basic Science Exam. If your cousin has never taken science "in his life," then it's unlikely he will be in this group.

In short: it looks like your cousin has a pathway toward earning a "real" MD. But, becoming a board-certified, licensed doctor requires more than an MD, and that might be a real challenge. This could lead to a difficult situation where your cousin has spent a fortune on tuition and fees but cannot see much return on that investment.

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    They have just recently been fined by FTC for deceptive marketing.
    – Neuchâtel
    Dec 28, 2022 at 16:17
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    In other words, acceptance means "we will accept your tuition payments" and presumably provide some level of education that has earned them accreditation. It does not mean they guarantee accepted students a successful career in medicine.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 28, 2022 at 18:28
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    Indeed, and all schools in general. Sometimes applicants are too focused on admission and not enough on success. This is a recurring theme on this site: other common instances are in the form "I got admitted to this ultra-busy lab with an ultra-busy PI and now they aren't mentoring me personally" or "how should I lie about my research interests/career goals to pass an interview".
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 28, 2022 at 18:53
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    Well, also, the U.S. medical schools have the so-called "match", which is a very systematic mechanism that finds internships for essentially all U.S. medical school grads. I have no idea what non-U.S. med-school grads do to get into the system... but there's certainly no comparable virtual guarantee... Dec 29, 2022 at 4:23
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    Students at the school in question can participate in the match in the US. The matching rate is relatively low, however (65% rather than 95%)
    – cag51
    Dec 29, 2022 at 4:35
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Yes, this is a legitimate offer from a real school.

I also took a quick look at online reviews. There are too many negative reviews such as "don't go there" or "avoid this place at all cost" that will surely make you believe that this school, SJSM, is a real, legitimate institution. There are also reviews with the interesting title "SJSM - The Truth" that I would like you to read.

Also, they have recently been fined 1.2 million USD by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing.

“Saint James lured students by lying about their chances of success,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Misrepresented School’s Medical License Exam Pass Rate: USMLE Step 1 Pass Rate was advertised to be 96.77%. The true rate is 35%

Misrepresented Residency Match Rate: The advertised match rate is 85-95%. However, in reality, the match rate for Saint James students is lower than touted, and lower than that reported by U.S. medical schools. Since 2018, the defendants’ average match rate has been 63%."

So, what you should think about now is whether or not it is worth going there.

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