My friend is wondering if he should complete the last year of medical school there in Cuba or come here and continue on. It seems like there is no benefit from completing med school in Cuba, given the difficulty to be licensed in the U.S. And the difficulty in getting a residency position.
Does any of the course work from his studies in Cuba transfer over to U.S? Is it likely that he'd have to get a bachelor's degree here before ever going to a U.S. Med school? My friend says that he has an outstanding record in the Cuban medical school, speaks excellent English, does well on tests, etc. Any advice you could give?
As far as I know, no medical students from Cuba have transferred to a med school in the United States recently or possibly ever. Regarding your questions, I can only give you my best guesses.
I doubt very much that a course from the Cuban medical school would be accepted here in the US. US med schools that accept a few transfers from Caribbean schools like Ross or St. George's usually take those students at the beginning of the third year of medical school.
A few schools are doing combined BS/MD degrees in five or six years, but I don't know of a single US school that would take a student directly out of high school into a 4-year program.
A possibly more reliable way to become a physician in the United States would be to graduate from an American university, take the Medical College Admission Test, and apply to med school.
Last month, the ECFMG posted this on its website: "The ECFMG is pleased to announce that it will resume processing of service requests in relation to applicants from and institutions in Cuba. As previously announced, ECFMG was not processing such requests, pending approval of its license application for Cuba by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Today, ECFMG was advised that OFAC has approved the license application."
There are 14 medical schools in Cuba. I do not know if any or all of them will be acceptable to the ECFMG or what position residency program directors will take on applications received from students in those schools. Many current offshore graduates are having problems obtaining residencies in US programs. What will happen with the addition of 14 more schools with an unknown number of graduates is anyone’s guess.The fact that he is a non-US citizen is not helpful.
One of the 14 is the ELAM medical school which has 19,550 students. Wikipedia says it is accredited by the ECFMG and the Medical Board of California.
It is not clear how that many students can be clinically trained in a country with only about 11 million citizens and 13 other med schools. For comparison, the US, which has 30 times the population of Cuba, has 140 allopathic medical schools with about 80,000 total students.
I don't know if I've clarified things for you or made them more confusing. Your friend's brother is going to have to decide for himself what he wants to do, but if he is a truly outstanding student, maybe he should stay in Cuba and finish his education. However, he must understand that there is no guarantee he will be able to obtain a residency in the US, and no residency means no ability to be licensed and no way to practice medicine here.
If any of my readers have other thoughts, I hope they will comment.
Addendum on 8/20/15 at 11:25 a.m. The medical student is not a US citizen.