Medical School Brochure (IFCO)

Feb 18, 2015 by


During a Congressional Black Caucus delegation to Cuba in June 2000, a Congressperson from the

Mississippi Delta remarked to President Fidel Castro that there are large areas in his district which do not have a single physician. President Castro responded with an offer of full scholarships for young adults from Mississippi to study medicine in Cuba. This generous offer was then extended to young adults of color from low income, working class and underserved areas throughout the US.

In his September 2001 speech at the Riverside

Church in New York, President Castro said, “We are prepared to grant a number of scholarships to poor youth who cannot afford to pay the $400,000 it costs to get a medical degree in the United States.”

The intent of this scholarship offer is to help the US fill the dramatic need for health care in some of its

most medically neglected and impoverished

regions. These full scholarships for young adults to

study medicine in Cuba cover tuition, dormitory

room and board, uniforms and

textbooks in Spanish.

The only condition of Cuba’s scholarship offer is that graduates of the program return to the US to

practice medicine in underserved communities.

IFCO views this scholarship offer as a historically

unprecedented opportunity. Accordingly, IFCO

seeks to make this opportunity available to its

members and colleagues. We began recruitment

for the scholarship program in 2001.

“What we want from the Latin American School of Medicine is for students from our sister nations to become imbued with the same doctrine in which our own doctors are educated, with that total devotion to their noble future profession– for the doctor is like a shepherd, a priest, a missionary, a crusader for the people’s health and physical and mental well-being.”

-Former Cuban President Fidel Castro



Cuba continues to make health care a priority for its citizens, despite the effects of the suffocating US blockade. Cuba’s public health care system is world-renowned. It maintains one physician for every 168 people in the country, and produces 2000 new physicians every year. The infant mortality rate is less than that of the United States. The Cuban Ministry of Health maintains a clinic, with at least one doctor and one nurse in residence, for every 120 families in Cuba.


Medical workers are among Cuba’s most important commodity. Here are some examples:

Cuba sends thousands of physicians and medical professionals to serve in the poorest areas of Latin America and Africa

Cuba organized a health care task force to address the AIDS epidemic in Africa and built two medical schools there.

Cuba has treated more than 18,000 victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Cuba has trained hundreds of doctors from African and Latin American nations, to return and practice medicine in their

respective countries. And now the US is among those nations.

Cuba has helped to build a health infrastructure in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.


The Latin American School of Medicine is located on the site of a former naval academy. The campus has 28 buildings, which house 80 classrooms, 37 laboratories, five amphitheaters, dormitories, an infirmary, and other facilities. The LASM currently has more than 17,000 students enrolled from 124 countries including Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.


All courses at the LASM are taught in Spanish. The pre-med curriculum includes an introductory course in health sciences as well as courses in chemistry, biology, math, physics and a 12-week intensive Spanish language program. The six-year medical school program, which includes a one-year rotating internship, begins every September. Students study at the LASM campus for the first two years, attend another of Cuba’s 21 medical schools, which are connected to hospitals and policlinics. The Cuban medical training model combines theory with practice and focuses on primary care, community medicine, and hands- on internships.

The program at LASM provides intensive advising and tutoring designed to help every student succeed. Students must pass competency exams at appropriate points in their course of study. For US students this includes the United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE).


US citizenship with a current passport

Proficiency in college-level sciences

with minimum of B- average, in:

One year of biology with lab

One year general chemistry with lab

One year organic chemistry with lab

One year of physics with lab

Lifetime commitment to practice medicine in poor and medically under-served communities in the US after graduation.

18-25 years-old at time of application

Persons of color and/or low income are especially encouraged to apply.

The IFCO Medical School Scholarship

Committee receives and reviews applications. However, all final decisions regarding admission are made in Cuba.

For applications

For applications

or more information contact:

Interreligious Foundation

for Community Organization

418 West 145th Street,

New York, NY 10031

tel: 212. 926.5757 fax: 212.926.5842


IFCO was founded in 1967 to advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination. Since then, IFCO has worked with its international church partners and a network of grassroots organizations to assist the dis-enfranchised to develop and sustain community organizations to fight injustice. This work includes education about the realities of the poor in the US and the “third world.” As part of this work, IFCO provides support for grassroots community organizing projects in urban and rural regions of the US.

Since 1992, IFCO, through our project Pastors for Peace, has worked to bring an end to the immoral and unjust US economic blockade of Cuba, Our Friendshipment Caravans educate and organize throughout the US, Mexico and Canada as well as delivering tons of humanitarian aid. We also organize construction brigades, educational delegations and other exchanges.

The Latin American

School of Medicine






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