Is the Latin American School of Medicine accredited?
The Latin American School of Medicine is fully accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the recognized body which confers accreditation on all international schools of medicine. In the United States, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) oversees licensing requirements for medical students who study in schools outside the US. The ECFMG fully recognizes any medical school which is certified by its own government’s Ministry of Health. Therefore students who study at the Latin American Medical School are considered by the ECFMG to have received a fully accredited medical education. The Latin American School of Medicine has also been evaluated and fully accredited by the Medical Board of California, which has the most stringent standards of any state in the US. This means that graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine are recognized as fully qualified to apply for medical residency in any state of the US.
Will I be able to practice medicine when I return to the US?
In order to practice medicine in the US, students at the Latin American School of Medicine need to pass a series of US Medical Licensing Exams (USMLEs). These are the same requirements that apply to any US student who studies in any medical school, whether in the US or in another country. The Step 1 exam is a computer-based multiple-choice exam which focuses on the basic medical sciences. The Step 2CK exam focuses on clinical knowledge. The Step 2CS exam tests clinical skills: the student actually interacts with model patients in a simulated clinical setting. These Steps can be taken in any order after the second year of medical school, with the written agreement of the dean of the medical school. Students at the Latin American School of Medicine begin their studies for the USMLEs starting with their first-year courses, and begin to sit for the exams after the third year of study. In addition, each student must complete a residency program in the United States, and must take the Step 3 exam during the residency program.
Careful consideration has been given to the particular needs of US students as they prepare for these essential examinations. Faculty and administrators at the Latin American School of Medicine have analyzed the US Step exams to be sure that all anticipated items are covered in detail in their course offerings. Some slight adjustments have been made in the standard Cuban course sequence to accommodate the special needs of US students (for example, offering Pharmacology in an earlier semester so students can prepare for the Step 1 exam).
In addition, US physicians who are members of IFCO’s Medical School Advisory Committee offer supplementary short courses to the US students, in several subject areas which are included in the Step 1, Step 2CK, and Step 2CS exams, but which are taught from a different perspective in the Cuban curriculum — courses such as Medical Ethics, Legal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Nutrition.
Supplemental study groups are also established for all US students to help prepare then for the Step 1 exam. These study groups are considered mandatory — even though they are not a formal part of the Cuban curriculum — since all US students will need to be sufficiently prepared to pass the USMLE exams or else they will not be allowed to practice in the US. Resources such as the “First Aid” study guides, sample tests, etc., are being made available to the US students. All students who study medicine in foreign medical schools and wish to practice medicine in the United States also need to complete a medical residency in the US. Residency placement in the various areas of specialization is a highly competitive process which is based in large part on students’ scores on the USMLE examinations.
What does the scholarship include?
The scholarship includes full tuition, dormitory housing, three meals per day at the campus cafeteria, textbooks in Spanish for all courses, bedding, and a small monthly stipend in Cuban pesos, school uniform (short-sleeved white lab coat; but you’ll probably want to bring your own dark blue pants (not jeans) or skirts, and your own comfortable black shoes). The scholarship does not include travel expenses to and from school; it does not include the fees for taking the USMLE exams; it does not include costs for supplemental English-language textbooks. IFCO has provided a small library of supplemental English-language medical textbooks for the use of the US students and other students from English-speaking countries.
Is it legal for the medical students to travel to Cuba?
Yes! — but it is important to understand the context. As part of the US economic blockade against Cuba, restrictions have been imposed on US citizens’ travel to Cuba. Students at the Latin American School of Medicine were initially considered exempt from these restrictions, since they were “fully hosted” — with all their expenses paid by the Cuban Ministry of Health. When President Bush, in an attempt to appeal to ultra-right-wing Cuban-American voters in Florida, tightened restrictions against Cuba in June 2004, the “fully hosted” category was eliminated and the students’ status was threatened. But IFCO launched a tremendous grassroots campaign of calls and letters to the US Treasury and State Departments, and 28 members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses wrote a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, insisting on the students’ right to continue their studies. Our campaign was victorious: the US government granted a special travel authorization for all present and future students enrolled in the Latin American School of Medicine. Thus it is fully legal for students to travel to and from school.
We continue working for an end to the travel restrictions and all US sanctions against Cuba — and we hope you will join us in this work.
Edited by Diane (35) - Jan 14 2014 at 6:46pm