Training ground

MSU-COM students prepare to train at hospitals in Cuba

U.S. medical and nursing students will earn course credit while learning about the Cuban health care system during the two-week trip.

A new elective for fourth-year students attending the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM) in East Lansing or the MSU College of Human Medicine will allow participants to become the first U.S. medical students to train inside Cuba’s hospitals, according to an MSU statement.

In April, 15 osteopathic medical students and one doctoral nursing student will participate in the two-week for-credit clinical course.

The first week, students will learn about Cuba’s health system, which is grounded in primary care and public health. During the second week, students will participate in rotations at Cuban hospitals. Partnering hospitals include Calixto Garcia, Hospital Pediatrico Docente Centro Habana and Hospital Materno Ramon Gonzalez Coro.

“By going to different clinics, students can see firsthand, through observing and interacting with the primary care and public health clinics, how the Cuban health system delivers health care with a focus on preventive care and compare it to the care provided in the U.S.,” says William Cunningham, DO, an assistant dean at MSU-COM and one of the leaders behind the new elective.

For Bo Pang, OMS IV, the international trip will be her sixth with MSU-COM. To prepare for visiting Cuba, Pang has been brushing up on her medical Spanish and learning about the culture.

“I want to pursue a career in global health care, and this course is an opportunity for me to see firsthand how other health care systems work,” Pang says.

Along with Dr. Cunningham, the students will be joined by faculty members Marcia Garcia, a general surgeon in Cuba and an adjunct professor at MSU’s Institute of International Health; Gary Willyerd, DO, an associate dean at MSU-COM; and Rene Hinojosa, PhD, a professor emeritus at MSU’s School of Planning, Design and Construction.

The new elective will take place for two weeks every spring. Thirty students have already applied for next year’s elective, according to MSU.

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