Cuban MDs Get OK to Revalidate Their Degrees in USA

By CaféFuerte

Cuban doctors at a meeting sponsored by Solidarity Without Borders in Miami.
Cuban doctors at a meeting sponsored by Solidarity Without Borders in Miami.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban doctors in the process of revalidating their professional degrees in the United States scored an important victory Thursday.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), which certifies graduates from other countries, announced it hadnreceived approval from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department to proceed with the processing of applications for revalidation, interrupted since July 2.

The ban affected doctors from Cuba, Crimea and Sudan, countries where federal authorities face difficulties in relating to their institutions.

“As previously announced, ECFMG was not processing applications, pending the approval of its license for Cubans by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department of the United States. Today, ECFMG has been informed that OFAC has approved the license application,” said a notice released by the organization.

The freezing of the processing of applications extended for 14 days.

Relief for hundreds of doctors

An OFAC spokesperson confirmed the granting of a federal license to continue the process of medical revalidation.

The announcement was a huge relief for hundreds of Cuban doctors, especially those who recently arrived in US territory and who are in various stages of validating their titles to restart their careers in this country.

Solidarity Without Borders (SSF), an organization which sponsors the improvement and reinsertion of Cuban and Hispanic physicians in the United States, welcomed the news.

“Solidarity Without Borders is particularly grateful to Senator Marco Rubio, and Cuban Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, personalities and political and community institutions and all those who in some way have contributed to the solution of this problem,” said one statement from the group, based in Hialeah.

The doctors concerned mobilized as soon as they learned of the ban and collected hundreds of signatures in support of an online open letter, demanding a solution to ECFMG and authorities of the Treasury.

“Given that a similar situation could be repeated and the cumbersome, expensive and complicated revalidation process for doctors and dentists graduated in other countries, SSF will continue promoting a bill in Florida to facilitate a single exam revalidation for foreign doctors and dentists,” said the organization headed by Dr. Julio Cesar Alfonso.

An additional concern

Now with this problem resolved, the concerns of Cuban physicians focus on the special program for deserters on international missions. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of Cuban doctors are stranded in third countries awaiting US visas after invoking the so-called Cuban Medical Professional Program (CMPP) shelter program for professionals, implemented by the US government in 2006.

Besides delays, some doctors have been prevented from traveling after their visas were suspended before boarding the plane.

The concern of the doctors seeking refugee status is based on the fact that Cuba has asked the United States to dismantle the CMPP which Havana calls an instrument of “brain drain” that goes against the normalization of bilateral relations. Officials close to the White House have suggested that the program would be under review.

More than 9,000 Cuban health professionals have benefited from the program, devised under the administration of George W. Bush.


4 thoughts on “Cuban MDs Get OK to Revalidate Their Degrees in USA

  • I am a dentist from Cuba. I didn’t pay to study with money, but I am pretty sure I did with work, first starting when I was 11 years old I spent my Junior and Senior High school living at boarding school and doing farm work. Half day working in the fields and half day in the classroom. If I didn’t finish my work I had to do it on weekends and was only allowed to visit my parents once a month. When I was admitted in the dental school, from the first year I had to work at least four hours cleaning or whatever they needed. After having some experience they placed you in a job (without pay) based on your training, the last year of studying I worked full time in a clinic. After graduated I had to work wherever they were to send you with a salary of the equivalent of US $3, yes $3 dollars a month( 1985) or they could send you to another country to work on remote location. That is as a dentist; my husband, a doctor, had to work by day in a clinic and be on call at a hospital at night, including weekends, for four years. He just earned one dollar more than I did. In Cuba you can’t choose where to work. So I am not a traitor I considered myself a slave. I paid with work since I was a child, never had a computer there, never went to a recreation place on vacation since we couldn’t afford. No cars, living in a house with three bedrooms with three generations, my parents, my sister and her children, with no option to have a place to live or a car. In the first year living on US working for an electronic company we had, housing, a car and could afford to go on vacation for the first time in our life. I can continue, but you will get bored.

  • Doctors are needed no matter who paid for their medical school.

  • Patriots? Traitors is more accurate….did they pay for their education like my nephew did? No they got it for free from the Cuban government and the people. My nephw is in debt ($245,000) and the traitors are able to be accredited in the US?

  • The solution to brain drain is to treat educated labor fairly. Many of these doctors leaving under CMPP are patriots. All they really wanted was to be treated with respect and fairness.

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