Dear Dr. Gale Rigobert: I saw your speech on the medical schools in St. Lucia and I am writing to ask whether you or anyone else in power has any intention of helping the students who were/are enrolled in those schools.
You see, I am a past student of one of the schools that you so casually dismissed. I am writing this as an open letter because there are so many of us being affected.
A few years ago, I attended one of these schools out of necessity. You see, I always wanted to study medicine and as a quite frankly, broke, young person, attending one of these schools seemed to be a blessing in disguise because I would only have to pay for tuition and not room and board.
I undertook the gruelling programme, gladly endured the sleepless nights, the hard hours, the difficult classes, the thankless, sometimes angry patients who were not happy to have students accompanying their doctors and observing them, all in the hopes that I would some day have my degree in hand and be able to serve my country and pay off my debts.
That day came and I received my certificate, got to put on my gown and shake the Dean’s hand and thank him for handing me that piece of paper I had worked myself to the bone for.
You can probably imagine that it came as no small disappointment when I went to the ministry to see what kinds of opportunites were available for me, only to be told that my degree was essentially worthless because the ministry was cracking down on my school and others like it.
I have to wonder, why it is that Spartan was afforded nearly 40 years to obtain its accreditation, of which it is still only partially accredited, while my school and the two others like it were only afforded a few years to obtain the same accreditation?
Now I watched you on the news and I grew confused because I received the letter from the ECFMG which stated in part: “For students/graduates of a medical school to be eligible to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification, ECFMG must have, among other things, confirmation from the appropriate ministry in the medical school’s host country that the medical school is recognized as a medical school by the ministry.”
From this I gathered that the main reason students are no longer allowed to apply for ECFMG certification is because the body was advised that the ministry no longer recognises the school. From what you said on the news, it sounded like you would have the public believe that the ECFMG is an accrediting body, which in fact it is not, it is simply a body which allows students to apply for the United States medical licensing exam.
I am not pointing fingers or passing blame, I am simply pointing out how some of your statements could have appeared misleading and even more damaging.
So without approval from the school, we are not eligible to apply to ECFMG but as far as the ministry is concerned, from what I was told, without being eligible to apply to ECFMG, we are not recognised by the ministry. It appears to be a lose-lose situation for us no matter how you look at it.
In closing, I would like to stress again the fact that Spartan was allowed almost four decades to obtain accreditation from CAAM-HP while the other schools were allowed less than half that amount of time, and that Spartan’s accreditation, according to the CAAM-HP website, is not even full accreditation and is partial accreditation.
I would like to inquire as to whether the ministry has any intention of helping people like me who are in massive amounts of debt with what appears to be a hopeless future.
Many of my past classmates are also locals and we voted for the UWP to come into power last year because we believed the campaign promises that said you would improve the country. I hope that you and those who also hold our lives in your hands do not let us down.
Hopeless but not Defeated.