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How to Become a Doctor in Cuba

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As in other countries, studying to become a doctor in Cuba involves intensive coursework, passing medical exams and a residency program. Unlike most countries, however, Cuba has historically offered affordable schooling for low-income, but brilliant, medical students. Furthermore, the country has one of the best health care systems of any developing country. Most universities offer a six-year program taught in Spanish, and part of a cooperative learning model.

Complete your undergraduate studies, preferably with coursework in biology, chemistry and physics. Submit an application packet, including transcripts and other documents, and complete an entrance interview with authorized Cuban education representatives. Most universities do not require American students to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), so most students under 30 and with solid GPAs are admitted. Upon arriving, non-Spanish speakers must take a language crash course.

Enroll in and complete your general medical studies in your first two years, where you will learn about the fundamentals of medicine. You will also begin your community practicums in neighborhood clinics.

Transfer to one of Cuba's teaching hospitals, for your final three years. In this period, your studies will consist of clinical practicums in these hospitals, as well as traditional class and lab studies. Complete your rotations in whichever field you decide to specialize in.

Graduate with your medical doctorate. Many graduates return to their native countries to practice medicine. Specifically, if you return to the U.S., you must first pass the multiple-choice U.S. Medical Licensing Exams (USMLEs), just like every medical school graduate.

Tip

While the education is free, U.S. students in particular may experience a culture shock in attending school in Cuba. Living quarters are sparse and overcrowded, the food service is basic, and students are paid a meager monthly stipend. In fact, doctors in Cuba make around $20 a month.

Warning

Due to frigid Cuban-American relations, travel around the island is difficult at best. Also, in most cases Cuban universities will not cover relocation expenses.

About the Author

Marlon Trotsky was born in St. Paul, Minn. and graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, while minoring in sociology. His work has appeared in various print and online publications, including: "The Trentonian," "San Jose Mercury News" and "Oakland Tribune."

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