Cuba, which is only an hour away from Miami, has become one of the top spots for medical education. With some schools offering free tuition, the country continues to draw students from all around the world.
Thanks to its cheap to zero fees, Cuba has the highest number of doctors per capita (67 per 10,000). This helps contribute to Cuba’s healthcare system, which is faring well despite its low GDP and lack of drugs and equipment.
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How long do you need to study Medicine in Cuba?
It takes 6 years to complete a medical degree in Cuba.
What are the general requirements to study in Cuban medical schools?
Applicants need to submit a copy of the high school transcripts and grades. Other requirements include a birth certificate, a copy of criminal records, and HIV and pregnancy tests.
Prospective students need to be younger than the age of 25. To be admitted, you need to be physically and mentally sound during schooling.
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Top Medical Schools in Cuba
If you want to take home a medical diploma without drowning inexpensive fees, then you should consider any of Cuba’s accredited medical schools:
1. Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM)
Known to many as the Latin American School of Medicine, this government-run institution has been catering to foreign students since 1999. Situated in Havana, it is believed to be one of the largest medical schools in the world – with applicants coming from more than 100 countries around the world.
While it is very accepting of foreign students, it places preference on students from poor communities. After all, the school wishes to mold competent doctors who would serve in their marginalized communities.
Successful applicants get to enjoy ELAM’s scholarship perks, which include full tuition, housing, meals, Spanish textbooks, uniform, and a monthly stipend of $4 (100 Cuban pesos). Because of these perks, ELAM is considered to be one of the best medical schools in Cuba.
ELAM is recognized by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the World Health Organization, and the Medical Board of California.
2. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de La Habana
Established in 1976, the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de La Habana is a Cuban medical school located in the capital. It offers various health-related degrees, one of which is the 6-year Medicine program.
The curriculum, which is named PENSUM, strives to create physicians with comprehensive knowledge and skills. It includes internships in the departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology, and Surgery. As such, its graduates do not only specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions, as they are well-versed with disease prevention, rehabilitation, and research as well.
Apart from providing foundational knowledge, the Medical University of Havana also offers post-graduate training in General Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Surgery, Public Health, and Diagnostics, to name a few.
The Medical University of Havana is recognized by the Ministerio de Salud Pública, Cuba (Ministry of Public Health).
3. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Holguín – Mariana Grajales Coello
The Mariana Grajales Coello Medical Sciences University was founded in 1965. While its first 20 physicians who rotated in Hospital Vladimir I. Lenin already graduated in 1967, the Medical school was only officially established in 1973. The school’s early professors included Havanan physicians, as well as doctors from the defunct USSR.
Today, one of Cuba’s foremost medical science universities is home to some of the more revolutionary health centers in the country. Through the Health Technology Center and the University Polyclinic projects, students can major in various courses, including pathology, intensive care, epidemiology, gastroenterology, genetics, geriatrics, and natural medicine, to name a few.
4. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Villa Clara
Established in 1966, the University of Medical Sciences of Villa Clara had its simple beginnings at the Provincial Surgical Hospital. Thanks to its visionary founders, the school has become one of the well-respected medical schools in Cuba.
The first class was taught by Dr. Ricardo Jorge Oropesa, who ended up as coordinator of the school’s first 76 students.
From its small classroom, the school finally transferred to an area near Hospital San Juan De Dios. From the initial courses of Pathology, Radiology, Internal Medicine, Microbiology, Clinical Laboratory, and Parasitology, the degree has evolved into a comprehensive, world-class 6-year program.
Following the PENSUM curriculum, Villa Clara students are taught Morphophysiology, Health Promotion/Prevention, Research, Community Medicine, Genetics, Psychology, Microbiology, and Pharmacology, to name a few.
5. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Santiago de Cuba
Faculty number 1, formerly the Medical School of the University of the Orient, was opened in February 1962. The school was finally inaugurated in 1964 as it transferred to its new building along with Avenida de Las Americas. Today, it trains its students in over 24 medical specialties.
Its second medical faculty, on the other hand, was established in 1979. It was created to cater to students from Santiago de Cuba, Granma, and other parts of the globe. Through the Comprehensive Health Program of 1998, the school was expanded with the help of additional Caribbean medical faculty. To date, it receives hundreds of students from Haiti, Djibouti, Mali, and other countries.
6. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Ciego de Ávila
Founded in 1978, the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Ciego de Ávila is a public institution based in Moron. Accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education, it is located on a vast campus covering 120,000 square meters.
While the university was initially focused on agronomy, its Faculty of Medical Science has emerged as one of the best Cuban medical schools. Many thanks to this rich history, it was finally recognized as a Medical University in 2009. It currently is the academic arm of Ciego de Avila’s medical tourism program.
With its several decades of experience, the university has produced many physicians who respond to the health needs of their countrymen – and other people from across the globe.
7. Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Guantánamo
The University of Medical Sciences of Guantanamo was established in 1979. It is located in the municipality of Guantanamo, a mountainous territory located east of the country.
The co-ed public university specializes in Medicine, a course accredited by the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education. As one of the more recognized institutions in the area, it continues to train physicians in over 53 medical disciplines.
Apart from its distinguished medical school, the university also offers courses in Stomatology and Nursing.
8. Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de Cienfuegos
Founded in 1979, the Cienfuegos-based medical school is another haven for many international students. From its first 9 students, there are now thousands of enrollees coming from 52 countries. With its multi-cultural community, this picturesque school holds true to its mission of training world-class physicians.
As with most Cuban medical schools, the degree culminates with a rotary internship in the departments of Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Pediatrics.
Accredited by the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, the school is affiliated with Dr. Gustavo Aldereguía Lima Provincial General Hospital.
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