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New country flag.jpg JAMSA symbol.jpg
Location JAM location CA.png
Participating City (LC) Kingston
Languages English, Patois
Currency (how much is a Bigmac?) Jamaican Dollar (JMD), roughly $643.08JMD for a Big Mac
Time Zone EST (Eastern Standard Time)
Number of Doctors and Beds per 1000 People 0.85 per 1000 (data, 2003) and 1.9 per 1000 (data, 2010) respectively
Member of IFMSA since... 2010
Number of Incoming Students per Year Variable, approximately 10
Who is our current NEO? Neris Allen
Our Official Website & Facebook Group &
Come for exchange!

Welcome Note

Jamaica is an amazing exchange with friendly people, warm sunshine and good food all year long. Incomings are invited to come for an unforgettable clinical experience at the premier hospital for the Caribbean region, the University Hospital of the West Indies.


The Jamaica Medical Students' Association, JAMSA, is a not-for-profit student organization comprised of all the students at the University of the West Indies (Mona and Western Jamaica campuses) registered in the Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery (M.B., B.S.) programme.

Our Health Care System

Health services in Jamaica are provided by a network of secondary and tertiary facilities consisting of 24 hospitals including 5 specialist institutions along with more than 300 Primary Health care facilities managed by the four Regional Health Authorities (i), which were established in 1997 via the Health Services Act (i). The services of many of these institutions are offered free of charge to all citizens and residents following the removal of user-fees in 2008 by the leading administration, except at the University Hospital of the West Indies. (i) However, As a result of this, along with low-funding from the government (only 4.9% of GDP) (i) and general shortage of specialized health care providers, there is a large burden placed on these public institutions leading to the provision of less than optimal health care. (i) Consequently, access to comprehensive emergency care is only available in two locations on the island, Kingston and Montego Bay. (v) An alternative to the over burdened public health care system can be found in private healthcare. These institutions, while offering a much higher standard of medical care in a better environment, do so at a much higher cost. As a result most Jamaicans are unable to afford private health care and are left with an overcrowded public healthcare system to contend with. (v)

Jamaica is on target for meeting the millennium development goals for 2015. Potable water supply is 93% and sanitation coverage of 80% for the entire island. (i) Currently Jamaica's life expectancy for males is 71.5 and 78.2 for females. Over the past 3 decades the islands rank in life expectancy has fallen from 35th to 69th in the world. (i) As of 2011, the infant mortality rate of 17 per thousand births ranks Jamaica at 99 out of 221 countries worldwide. (i) The leading cause of death in Jamaica is Coronary heart disease (vi) which can be attributed in part to the increasing obesity and hypertension rates. (i) This is followed closely by HIV/AIDS, afflicting 1.6% of the adult population and Stroke. (vi) Over the last five years there has been no significant rise in the prevalence of HIV amongst the Jamaican population, suggesting stabilization of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country. Abortions are illegal in Jamaica and illegally performed abortions give rise to complication including death which contributes to as much as 16% of all maternal deaths. (ii)

The Hospitals

Kingston has numerous hospitals including the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston Regional Hospitals and private hospitals. Incoming students will do their elective rotation at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), which is adjacent to the Mona Campus. A medical library with internet access and JAMSA's students' lounge are also available to our incomings. There are also cafeterias, ATMs and other conveniences located on the hospital compound.

Our Medical Education

The medical faculty is one of the first faculties of the University of the West Indies and the first medical school for the Caribbean region. It was founded under the auspices of the University of London and follows the British education system. The UWI medical programme is five years in length with five semesters of preclinical medical sciences including didactic lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions. A section of third year also includes core clinical rotations including Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics and Community Health. On completion of the first three years of medical school, students are awarded a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Basic Medical Sciences. The remainder of the curriculum involves clinical rotations in various specialties and sub-specialties with end of rotation examinations. Students must successfully complete these rotations to be eligible for the final qualifying examinations, namely the MB,BS examinations, which encompass knowledge and practical skills from all of the clinical rotations. The examinations are done at the end of fifth year, successful students are awarded with a Bachelors of Medicine, Bachelors of Surgery (MB,BS) degree. Graduates are then assigned to complete a one year internship position after which they are fully registered as licensed physicians within the Caribbean region.

School Website

The official website for the medical faculty of UWI Mona is

Social Program

There is no formal social program, however, social contacts help to facilitate our incomings' interest as much as possible. Please bear in mind that these are also medical students and work on a voluntary basis so availability is variable. Incomings are also integrated into events on campus.


Major Jamaican festivals and celebrations including:

Bacchanal Jamaica Carnival season

Dream Weekend

Jamaica International Kite Festival

Kingston City Run

Ocho Rios & Little Ochie Seafood Festivals

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival

Reggae Sumfest

Portland Jerk Festival

Local & National Transportation

Getting around in Kingston is fairly easy as various taxi services operate 24/7. These can be called in advance and arrive at your door to take you directly to your destination. Route taxis cost less but are found at specified taxi stands and travel only along a defined route. Only taxis with red license plates should be utilized for transportation. There are also affordable and air conditioned JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited) buses that run regularly and provide yet another alternative for getting around Kingston, or even for traveling to other parishes. The importance of the public transport system to road transport in Jamaica is highlighted by the finding of a survey that nearly 75% of households do not own a motor vehicle (Transport Task Force, 2009). There are free student shuttles that run throughout the day on campus that can take you from one location on campus to another. These student shuttles also go off campus at certain times, providing a free and convenient way of leaving main campus.

Cultural Differences

The largest ethnic group is comprised of persons of African descent (76.3%) followed by mixed Afro-European descent (15.1%) then minority groups including persons of East Indian/Afro-East Indian descent (3.4%), Caucasian (3.2%), Chinese (1.2%) and others (0.8%). The culture is generally homogenized as indicated by the national motto “Out of many, one people”. This is due to a high level of integration in the country. Stratification in society is mostly by socioeconomic status as people identify themselves on a national level (being a Jamaican) rather than by race. Christianity is the main religion of Jamaica with Protestant branches being the most common denominations. Prominent features of Jamaican culture include our national dialect namely Jamaican Patois although English is the official spoken language. Local cuisine includes dishes such as ackee and salted codfish, curried goat, jerk chicken, etc, as well as various alcoholic beverages, herbal teas and coffee unique to the island. The island is also home to music such as reggae and dancehall.


Jamaica experiences a tropical marine climate, which is hot and humid all year round, but the interior mountainous regions (like Mona) are cooler than the coastal regions. Jamaica does not have four defined seasons, as it lies so close to the equator. The eastern side of the island can be divided into two parts, the windward side, north of the Blue Mountains and the leeward side to the south of the Blue Mountains. The windward side of Jamaica experiences more rainfall and is better known for its tropical climates characterized by hot and humid days and rainfall throughout the year. The wettest month is October with an average of 130mm of rain. The leeward side of Jamaica experiences less rain and less humidity. The Blue Mountains tend to be much cooler than Jamaica's beach towns (Climate and Weather, n.d). Temperatures in Jamaica average between 20 and 35 degrees Celsius (68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout year. The “summer” months are slightly warmer than the “winter” months. Summer is also the time of year with the most rainfall in Jamaica. July is the hottest month in Kingston with an average temperature of 29.5°C (85.1°F) and the coolest is January at 26.5°C (79.7°F). During Jamaica’s winter months, temperatures may range from 20 to 31 degrees Celsius (68 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit) and the island nation experiences less rainfall (Climate and Weather, n.d).

Exchange conditions

Exchange conditions can be found here:

Please note that incomings are advised to book flights arriving/leaving NO MORE THAN 2 days before/after the agreed exchange dates. Airport pick up/drop off services may be arranged at a cost if our volunteer students are unavailable to provide transportation. Also, students are expected to maintain a professional and courteous attitude to staff and patients, and will be given responsibilities like other medical students at UWI. Any reported misconduct, unacceptable behaviour or failure to perform may result in premature termination of the exchange. Students are also being asked to note that host families and social contacts are volunteers and are asked to be respectful and considerate at all times.

Application Documents Required

Standard documents are required prior to receiving a Card of Acceptance include the following:

Curriculum Vitae

Health Insurance

Motivation letter 1

Motivation Letter 2

Passport copy (demographics page)


Proof of Enrollment

Recommendation Letter

SCOPE Terms and Conditions

Student record (Subjects passed)

Vaccination card

If there are additional documents needed, the incoming student will be notified via email. Any documents needed by the student's home institution must be requested. Documents are to be emailed to

Further information regarding documents for exchange may be found here:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance must be provided by the student's home institution and these include international health insurance and malpractice insurance.

City offered for exchange