Part 2: On Education in the Health Sciences
One of the most widely touted facts about Cuba is the strength of their medical education system and their medical diplomacy (or medical internationalism) dating back to the 1960’s. Most of the Cuban graduates we see at ECE come from this sector, either doctors or dentists. Not only are Cuban health professionals to be found worldwide, Cuba also imports the worlds’ students for health education. A Cuban-educated doctor is just as likely to be from Central America or Central Africa as Central Cuba. Luckily for us as credential evaluators, they have a pretty unified curriculum for these fields of study. It doesn’t matter where they are from or where they go to school, they will have a similar plan of study. This is very helpful because Cuban documents do not contain hours or credits.
One of our site visits was to a medical school, ELAM or the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina. They had students from all over the world. This school is interesting because all of their students are international. It is solely to train students who are going to return home to their native countries. There are even a few Americans there. ELAM is the face of Cuban medical diplomacy. They instill Cuban values and ideals in their students and then send them around the world. It is an effective approach for a culture that is so ideologically rooted.
Entering ELAM. It was on the water and had beautiful landscaping everywhere. The campus was a former naval facility and had been well maintained over the years.
Keep in mind that all of the medical institutions used to be higher institutes. They were only upgraded to universities in 2010/2011. That’s one sign of how important medical education is to Cuba. They have one of the highest doctor to patient ratios in the world, and the local doctors are key to public health successes in the country. The national health system is at the heart of their economy, larger even than education or tourism or industry. The growth in the medical education sector is fueling growth in medical technology and other related fields. It will be exciting to see how the Ministry of Public Health develops curricula in these areas to accommodate growth in new sectors.
A medical school faculty that we kept driving by near our hotel. I ended up walking over there to see what it was. Part of the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de la Habana.
Martha Van Devender is a Senior Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2005. She specializes in education from Anglophone Africa and Latin America. She is also interested in online research and verification tools.