During the African Awareness Association' 'Travel Challenge to Cuba in 2012, the delegation had the opportunity to attend the graduation of students from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM). The student graduating class included 38 students from the USA, all women. These new doctors would, as a part of fulfilling the requirement of their tuition free seven year program would return to the USA to serve two years in underserved or poor communities in the USA.
The Latin American Medical School (ELAM) is a six-year, full-scholarship program, with the first two years spent at the ELAM campus, located 22 miles (35km) west of Havana. The remaining four years, including a one-year internship, are spent at one of 21 medical schools around the country. All courses and materials are in Spanish; a pre-medical course and intensive Spanish language instruction are offered to those needing them (determined by a placement exam). This additional coursework can add up to a year to the six-year program.
For more details on the curriculum, scholarship and school life, please see our ELAM FAQs. Students interested in applying must be:
1. From a low-income or underserved community
2. Between 18 and 25 years of age when they apply
3. High school graduates or hold a bachelor's (BS or BA) degree from their country of origin
4. Without a criminal record and free from substance abuse or addiction
5. Willing to abide by ELAM rules and regulations
6. Able to pass admission tests
Additionally, students accepted into the program are asked to return to work in underserved communities (their own or similar anywhere in the world), upon graduation. Students from more than 30 countries, including the United States, are now enrolled at ELAM; the application process differs for US applicants. See below if you are from the USA.
Application Process - Non-US Students
Applications are offered through Cuban diplomatic missions located in participating countries. Click here for a list of Cuban embassies around the world. At present, participant countries include:
Argentina Ecuador Mexico
Belize El Salvador Nicaragua
Bolivia Guatemala Nigeria
Brazil Guinea Bissau Panama
Chile Guinea-Conakry Paraguay
Colombia Equatorial Guinea Peru
Costa Rica Haiti United States
Cape Verde Honduras Uruguay
Djibouti Jamaica Venezuela
Dominican Republic Mali
Non-governmental organizations, political parties and Cuban Friendship Societies also offer information on how to apply.
Applying consists of filling out an application and submitting related paperwork (undergraduate transcripts and any pre-medical coursework for example) and doing an interview. Depending on where you live, the process can take three months or more.
Application Process - US Citizens
Applications for US citizens are administered by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO/Pastors for Peace) in New York City. Their FAQ page supplies many answers to questions posed by prospective students.
While US students must also fill out an application, supply supporting paperwork and do an interview, there are some differences from the general application process outlined above. These include:
• Submitting letters of reference; a personal essay; and medical history
• Minimum one-year, college-level coursework in biology, physics, and organic and inorganic chemistry (all with lab)
*MCAT standardized test scores are not required.
Contact IFCO for application or additional information:
418 West 145th Street,
New York, NY 10031
Tel: 212-926-5757, Fax: 212-926-5842