Worldwide medical colleges have a nasty popularity. That should change, for the great of U.S. sufferers.

Overseas-trained physicians are vital in America – they make up more than a quarter of our workforce.

However, international medical schools, and especially those in the Caribbean, have an unequal reputation.

For example, some international schools have a reputation for not accepting their graduates into US residency programs. Your alumni could return to the United States with significant student debt and uncertain career opportunities.

Indeed, the quality of international medical schools varies greatly. However, this also applies to schools in the USA. And the data shows that the best international schools are on par with the best American programs.

With the impending medical shortage in America, we cannot afford to underestimate graduates from international medical schools.

At first glance, US medical schools appear to be better preparing their graduates for careers in medicine. 96 percent of U.S. or Canadian medical school students passed the U.S. admissions exam on their first attempt in 2016. Only 78 percent of students in schools outside the United States or Canada did so on their first round.

However, the dates of certain international schools tell a different story. In 2015, 97 percent of students at the University of Queensland’s Ochsner Clinical School in Australia passed step 1 of the exam on the first try. At my school, St. George’s University in Grenada, 96 percent passed in 2016.

The numbers on residencies for international students also look scary. In 2016, 94 percent of U.S. students voted for dormitory. A little more than half of the internationally educated students did this.

But here too there were major differences between the international schools. Some published numbers on par with their US-based counterparts. This year all graduates from the Medical Faculty of International Health at Ben Gurion University in the Negev in IsraelIf you Those who took part in the US National Resident Matching Program secured a place of residence. Last year, 93 percent of American St. George’s graduates who applied for residency in the United States received it.

In some ways, the statistics from these international medical schools are even more impressive, as their students typically enter with lower grades, or MCAT scores, than their US-educated counterparts. Many students attend international schools only because they have been rejected in the US.

International medical schools therefore typically invest in support services that help students achieve academic and personal success. For example, the School of Medicine at University College Cork in Ireland assigns a high-level faculty mentor to each international student to provide advice and support.

Research has also shown that international medical graduates provide quality care – in some cases, better quality care than US-trained doctors. A recent study found that Medicare patients who were hospitalized were less likely to die within 30 days when treated by an internationally trained doctor than when treated in the US.

After all, international medicine graduates typically practice in areas and disciplines where the need is greatest. For example, in areas where per capita income is less than $ 15,000 per year, international graduates make up 42 percent of doctors.

Or take basic care. By 2030, the US could be short of 43,000 general practitioners. International medical graduates will be the ones to fill this shortage.

More than half of Caribbean-trained medical students choose primary care, compared to a third of US-trained students. At some international schools, that percentage is even higher – about three-quarters of St. George’s graduates and nearly 60 percent of the American University of the Caribbean go to primary care.

In other words, medical schools in the Caribbean are better able to address the medical shortage in America than their counterparts in the United States.

The best medical schools in the area provide the personal training and support needed to turn promising students into world-class doctors. And American patients benefit immensely.

G. Richard Olds, MD, is President of St. George’s University. He was the founding dean of the medical school at the University of California at Riverside.