Full Scholarship Program to Study Medicine in Cuba
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL APPLICANTS READ THIS DOCUMENT IN FULL BEFORE CONTACTING THE IFCO OFFICE.
If you are interested in a scholarship to the medical school in Cuba, you MUST fit the following criteria:
Be US citizens (with US passport)
Be between the ages of 18 and 25 by the time of matriculation.
(Please note that in limited circumstances exceptions MAY be considered for those over 25. For more information about this, it is critical that potential applicants contact the IFCO office directly by calling 212-926-5757 Ext. 5.)
Must have completed the following college-level, pre-med science courses with a grade of B- or better:
- One year of biology with lab (Biology I and II with labs)
- One year of chemistry with lab (General Chemistry I and II with labs)
- One year of organic chemistry with lab (Organic Chemistry I and II with labs)
- One year of physics with lab (Physics I and II with labs)
Be physically and mentally fit
Come from the humblest and neediest communities in the US. Students and Parents Combined Income cannot be over 500% of the Annual Median Income (AMI) Values. Financial Income Cut off for Students Applying to the ELAM Scholarship Program
Be committed to practice medicine in poor and underserved US communities after graduation
*Application cycle begins September 30th and applications are due March 15th of the following year.
Applicants will be carefully selected by the IFCO Medical School Advisory Committee, based on applications, transcripts, interviews, letters of reference, etc. Final admissions decisions will be made by administrators of the Latin American School of Medicine and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the curriculum and course of study of the Latin American School of Medicine?
The standard course of study at the Latin American School of Medicine is seven years. All classes are taught in Spanish. An additional semester of pre-med coursework is mandatory for all students. Intensive Spanish language training is offered to students who need it, before the start of the six-year course of medical study. The specific course offerings for each semester are listed below. The course of study for the seven-year program begins each September; the Spanish intensive course and the pre-med courses are offered in the fall and spring semester respectively
All students spend their first three years of study on the Latin American School of Medicine’s campus, along with all other international students. During these years, the curriculum focuses on the basic medical sciences and includes some practicum opportunities in neighborhood clinics. The first year of study follows an innovative plan called “morphophysiology,” which integrates the various basic sciences to enhance learning.
Starting the third year of medical study, students are located at one of Cuba’s 21 teaching hospitals, with Cuban and international students. (The US students are located in the City of Havana at the Salvador Allende Faculty of Medicine.) In these advanced years of study, supervised clinical practicum work on the hospital wards is incorporated with classroom and laboratory studies. The sixth year of medical study is the internship year, in which students complete rotations in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery, and general medicine.
In terms of subject matter, the Cuban medical curriculum corresponds very closely with how medicine is taught in the US. The teaching style, however, is different: the Cuban schools emphasize cooperative rather than competitive learning, smaller class sizes, frequent oral exams, and intensive tutoring to help all students succeed.
What about the pre-med and Spanish classes?
Placement tests are administered to all incoming students to determine proficiency in the medical sciences and in Spanish.
How good does my Spanish have to be?
How is the academic calendar organized?
How are exams given?
Frequent oral exams are given in most classes and written mid-term and final examinations are given in all courses. Students who don’t pass a final exam on the first try are given two more weeks to study and get additional tutoring, and then can retake the exam. (This second try is called the “extraordinario.”) Students who don’t pass the extraordinario are able to retake the exam one more time in early August. (The third try is called the “mundial.”) Students who fail two or more mundial exams must repeat the entire academic year. This option to repeat a year can only be used once in the six-year course of study.
Is the Latin American School of Medicine accredited?
The Latin American School of Medicine is fully accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO), the recognized body which confers accreditation to 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?
What is the attrition rate at the Latin American Medical School?
Since US students first started enrolling in the Latin American School of Medicine in the spring of 2001, about 20% of enrolled students have left the program, and 80% have remained enrolled. This rate is exactly comparable to the attrition rate at any medical school in the US. Most of the students who have chosen to leave the program have left for personal or family reasons, or because studying medicine in Cuba just wasn’t a good fit for them. Very few have left for academic reasons.
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.
What about campus life?
How do I communicate with folks at home?
Because of the US economic blockade imposed against Cuba, communications between the two countries are not always easy. E-mail availability on campus is limited, since many students share access to the campus computing center, where they can sign up for computer time. Internet access is also available from certain hotels for an hourly fee. Phone cards can be purchased for international calls. Cell phones are available.
Is it legal for the medical students to travel to Cuba?
What are the admissions requirements for the Latin American School of Medicine?