Studying Medicine in Cuba

Studying Medicine in Cuba

Students studying at the Latin American School of Medicine march in the plaza of the revolution on May Day – photo –

quote marksI called the office asking how much the program costed, how much the application fee was. They were just like free free free…. but indeed it was free charging no tuition or room on board. In 2002 I packed my bags for ELAM.” – Sarpoma Sefa-Boakye, past student of ELAM.

Medicine and the medical field give persons the opportunity to help others and make the world a better place. Many, if not all, regions of the world have designed medical programs within their universities to facilitate and train those who have dreams of working in that field. One such opportunity is Cuba, where International students may enroll in undergraduate or postgraduate programs through 13 universities across the country.

“The Cuban government provides us with everything we need to sustain and study. Food, clothes, books, toiletries, even a stipend monthly.” ELAM student

“There are students at my university from Bolivia, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Colombia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Chad, Fiji, Palao, Zambia, Angola, Democratic Rep of Congo, the Caribbean and the United States, to name a few.” – Oraine Lynch from Jamaica studying at ELAM in Havana, Cuba.

Cuba is known for its Advanced Medical Research and health care to keep terminal, chronic, natural and airborne diseases at bay. Illnesses and viruses such as meningitis, Cholera, AIDS and the famous cancer have also been maintained.

“Seven hundred doctors come from across the world including Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.. They are provided with funding from the government or they are self-financed by their families.. They enroll in forty-three specialized programmes offered which include training, Masters, doctorate Degrees and certification in Health Sciences and medical education.” – Dr. Luis Alberto Pischs Garcia, Rector of the University of Medical Sciences, Havana Cuba

Cuba focuses on preventative medicine for everyone who falls under the Healthcare System focusing directly on Community, Health and medicine. That is why their residents are said to have a higher life expectancy than others in the world.

Studying Medicine in Cuba

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“In Cuba, the philosophy of Universal medical attention, disease prevention and improved length of quality of life for the population continues to be a high priority.” – Reymar Alvarado Vega, a Panamanian student at the Latin American School of Medicine.

The teacher-student ratio is unmatched in Cuba than any other American or European University in the world. They offer students opportunities for mentoring, training and specialties that are not easily attainable in other universities.

“Cuba has also offered and continues to offer Cooperation, mainly in the fields of health and education, and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only Cuban teachers have rendered their services in many developing countries, but many students of those countries have studied and graduated, free of charge, in Cuban universities” – Bernardo Hernandez, Ambassador of Cuba to Jamaica.

“This was truly a culture shock to me. When I came to Cuba, everyone in the school was not going out, and I soon realized Cuba was calm and peaceful….The entire population is very united and patriotic..” – Oraine Lynch from Jamaica studying at ELAM in Havana, Cuba.

At the end of each program the graduates are armed with professional and extensive clinical experience which balances between theory and practical.

“They teach us every day to strengthen clinical examination having an exploratory method for arriving at the diagnosis. Our learning is based on linking Theory with practice.” – Ismael Oumarou Issaka, a student from the Republic of Niger studying at the University of Havana.

Cuban universities are highly competitive and the obvious choice for persons wishing to study in medical schools away from The Stereotype American and European schools.The Universidad de la Havana is one of the top medical schools of the Caribbean.

“Cuba has more than a million university graduates, about 11.1 per cent of its population or 18.7 percent of its active labour force. Cuba stands out in the region in the percentage of public spending to GDP to be spent on education – 12.9 percent.” – Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, Ambassador of Cuba to Jamaica.

Dr. Bondi-Boyd, a primary health care physician who spent six years training at the Latin American Medical School in Havana Cuba (ELAM) stated:

“The medical faculty in her school was the same as what she would have gotten in the United States but the health care model was different… I was overall impressed with the school [ELAM], with their medical model and the way they provide Health Care in the country.”

Studying Medicine in Cuba

Cuba is able to invest in the education of his people despite the Embargo which results in the country experiencing crippling economic pressures. Persons around the world have benefited from their programmes especially residents from other Caribbean countries. Jamaicans, on an annual basis receive scholarships valuing 80,000 USD for six years of medical school plus Spanish Immersion courses.

“By the end of 2014, eighty-eight Jamaicans were studying in Cuba; seventy-nine of them in careers in medicine and the rest in sports and physical education. Over one hundred and forty-six Cubans are presently providing their services in several bilateral cooperation programmes in Jamaica, especially in health and education.” – Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, Ambassador of Cuba to Jamaica.

“The relevant Cuba-Jamaica program is ongoing in spite of Cuba’s current economic challenges caused by the impact of the continuation of the unjust and more than five decade U.S. blockade which in spite of the new policy that President Obama has opened toward our country continues to be applied on full force against the island.” – Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, Ambassador of Cuba to Jamaica.

Admission requirements

Students interested in applying must be:

–       Between 18 and 25 years of age when they apply

–       High school graduates or hold a bachelor’s (BS or BA) degree from their country of origin

–       Without a criminal record and free from substance abuse or addiction

–       From a low-income or underserved communities

–       Willing to abide by ELAM rules and regulations

–       Able to pass admission test

*Preference is given to low-income applicants. In return for receiving free medical education, students make a non-binding pledge to practice medicine in underserved communities.

By Alexandra Daley



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