American University of the Caribbean

American University of the Caribbean

The American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine is a medical school on the island of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles. AUC was founded on the island of Montserrat in 1978, but was forced to move to its present location by the eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano. The current chancellor of the school is Yife Tien, son of founder Paul Tien. [ [ Directory.] American University of the Caribbean website. accessed 18 Nov 2007]


In 1977, the son of Dr. Paul Tien, Yife Tien, was unable to secure admission to a medical school in the United States. Not giving up on his dream to become a physician, he enrolled as an international student at a medical school in the Dominican Republic. Tien went with his son to visit the school in the summer of 1977, where he saw many American citizens studying medicine, even though the curriculum was entirely in Spanish. Tien saw an opportunity to create an English language medical program based in the West Indies that would be geared specifically toward American citizens who intended to return to the United States to practice medicine. He then went island hopping to find a suitable location for his medical school. Tien first flew to St. Lucia, but the Prime Minister was ill and could not see him. He then flew to Antigua, where the government would agree to the proposal if the medical school would cater to the citizens of Antigua and other West Indian nations. Tien did not agree to these terms. He then flew to the British island of Montserrat, where the local government was pleased to accept the proposal because of the development opportunities a medical school would bring to their small island. The American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine was chartered January 30, 1978, in Montserrat. The local government agreed to do everything within its power to accommodate their new medical school.

Cincinnati, Ohio

While a medical campus was being constructed on Montserrat, AUC started conducting classes under its Montserrat charter in a rented space on the campus of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first class, with 107 students, started on August 14, 1978.


The government of Montserrat granted AUC a 25 acre parcel of land near Plymouth, where a new campus of 17 buildings was built. AUC began conducting classes at its new campus in Montserrat in January 1980.

On September 17, 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit the island, severely damaging the campus. Students and faculty were evacuated.

Plainview, Texas

While the Montserrat campus was being rebuilt, AUC operated at a temporary location in Plainview, Texas, where classes started again on October 17, 1989.


The Montserrat campus was rebuilt and AUC reopened it for classes in September 1990.

Long thought to be dormant, the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat erupted on July 18, 1995, rendering much of the island uninhabitable, including the entire city of Plymouth. Students and faculty were evacuated, and the campus was buried under volcanic ash.

Belize and St. Maarten

AUC reopened its operations in September 1995. 250 students were sent to a temporary location in Belize and 280 students were sent to a temporary location on St. Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles. However, on September 5, 1995, Hurricane Luis hit St. Maarten, destroyed much of its infrastructure, and delayed the opening of the St. Maarten operation by three weeks.

In September 1996, AUC transferred all students and faculty in Belize to its temporary facilities on St. Maarten.

St. Maarten

AUC purchased a parcel of land in the village of Cupecoy on the Dutch side of St. Maarten and construction of a permanent campus began in July 1996. The new campus opened on May 1, 1998.

Designed by a South Florida architectural firm, the new facilities are designed to meet South Florida Hurricane Building Code standards for Category 4 hurricanes. The campus has its own electricity generation and desalination facilities, and AUC stockpiles two weeks worth of food, water, and fuel in case of emergency.

Medical Curriculum

Medical education at the American University of the Caribbean is delivered over four calendar years. This includes two years of basic medical sciences at the St. Maarten campus, followed by two years of clinical training at affiliated hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Basic Medical Sciences

The curriculum is divided into five semesters of four months each, and students may complete up to three semesters of work in a calendar year. Therefore, the basic medical science education can be completed in a minimum of 20 months.

After completing basic medical sciences, students are required to take the USMLE Step 1. Upon successfully passing the exam, students proceed to the clinical medical sciences.

Clinical Medical Sciences

The clinical medical sciences at AUC consist of 72 weeks of clinical training at affiliated hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. This includes 42 weeks of core clerkships and 30 weeks of elective clerkships. Family Practice and Neurology are required electives.

Accreditation and Licensure

AUC is listed with the World Health Organisation and in the ECFMG IMED/FAIMER database of medical schools.These listings permit AUC students to register with the ECFMG, take the USMLE, obtain a residency in the United States, and practice medicine in the United States.

The American University of the Caribbean is fully recognized and approved by the governments of Sint Maarten and the Netherlands Antilles to confer the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree to students who complete the AUC curriculum.AUC is accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine (ACCM), an independent organization based in Ireland that accredits medical schools on behalf of several governments, including the governments of Sint Maarten and the Netherlands Antilles.

The US Department of Education's National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) reviewed the ACCM and determined that the standards used to accredit AUC were comparable to the standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States. Because of this, American citizens who attend AUC are eligible for student loans.

Some states have their own approval processes for medical schools.
*AUC is approved by the Medical Board of California.
*AUC is approved by the Texas Medical Board.
*AUC is approved by the New York State Board of Medicine.
*AUC is approved by the Florida Department of Education's Commission for Independent Education.

AUC graduates who meet subsequent requirements such as passing the USMLE and moral character determinations are eligible to practice medicine in all 50 US states.

AUC is listed by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom as issuing "primary medical qualifications not accepted by the GMC" [] . An entry on this list means that all graduates of AUC are not eligible for registration with the GMC, a requirement to practice medicine in the UK, nor are they eligible to sit the PLAB, a requirement for registration with the GMC.


1. AUC website

External links


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