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Cuban trained doctors fail test to practice medicine in Chile

January 25
15:23 2012

SANTIAGO – In 2011, nearly 80% of Chilean doctors who obtained their degree overseas failed the mandatory national medical knowledge test, also known as Eunacom. The vast majority of them completed their training in Cuba.

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Doctors educated in foreign countries are having trouble competing with Chilean-educated ones. Photo: Photostock

Cuba’s program of medical internationalism began in 1959 after the Cuban Revolution, when Fidel Castro rose to power. Since then, it is argued that medical professionals are Cuba’s most important export.

Since the Revolution, Cuba has sent more than 185,000 health professionals on medical missions to at least 103 countries, according to the New York Times. Unfortunately, this great quantity of doctors does not mirror the quality of their training. In other words, doctors in Cuba are not expected to learn as much as doctors trained in other countries. However, they are sent to some of the poorest parts of the world, including areas of Latin America and Africa. This raises an important question: Is a poorly trained doctor better than no doctor at all?

Cuban doctors have routinely received lower scores in countries including the U.S. and Brazil as well as Chile. In Chile, the average point for the doctors trained overseas was 38.84, well below the minimum needed for success. The average points for Chilean natives, on the other hand group was 74.05.

Beltran Mena, who is head of the Eunacom tests, articulated that “This group of doctors are not authorized to practice medicine in Chile and besides the test will now have to revalidate their degree at Universidad de Chile.”

Of all Chilean medical schools represented in the tests, residents from the Universidad Católica hold first place, followed by those from the Universidad Mayor. On the other end of the spectrum, highest failure percentage rates belong to schools such as the Universidad del Mar and Católica de la Santísima Concepción.

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Zoë Ackerman

Zoe is in her second year at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill studying English Literature and is very excited to be living in Vitacura, Santiago! She’ll be spending a couple of months here before studying abroad in Buenos Aires for the rest of the semester.


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