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Florida Woman Studies Medicine in Cuba
Monday, January 02, 2006   By: Juan Paxety

Says she's excited to get a free education

A young woman from Tallahassee, Florida dreamed of becoming a doctor. The held her dream while attending Godby High School and while attending Xavier University, but she found the high cost of medical school prohibitive. Then Colin Powell, fidel castro and the so-called Pastors for Peace stepped in.

The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reports the story of Amandla Mitchell. 

"The Cuban government covers all the expenses," says Mitchell, 23, who started her studies in September at the Latin American School of Medical Sciences, in a suburb of Havana.

Mitchell is back in Tallahassee after finishing her first semester. She will return in March or August, depending on when courses are offered. She's part of a program administered in the US by the Pastors for Peace.  The programs only requirement is that the doctors spend some period of time in regions where doctors are not commonly found, such as rural areas or the inner city.

Mitchell majored in pre-medical studies and heard about the program at Xavier. She shows that she has already accepted one of the basic premises of communism - to each according to his needs.

 "I was like, 'Hey, here's this opportunity to go to medical school for free,' ” Mitchell says. She was accepted in October 2003 and made plans to head for Cuba.

The article goes on to point out that the US was set to stop student travels to Cuba when Colin Powell stepped in. He had the Treasury Department exempt students from travel restrictions.

Here are a couple of questions - how much need is there in the United States for doctors in such areas? A program was established in the 70s or 80s to establish medical schools in the US to train such doctors - I worked in two markets - Macon, Georgia with Mercer University Medical School, and Greenville, North Carolina with East Carolina University's Medical School - two schools created to send doctors to rural areas.

The article says nothing about Ms. Mitchell's grades. If she were willing to develop a practice in rural or inner city areas, and her grades were good, I'm certain scholarships would have been available for her. Both Mercer and ECU had them at the times that I worked there.

Mitchell makes this interesting observation

 Politics also works its way into medical-school classrooms, she says, but doesn't interfere with the learning process.

It's well known that fidel's doctors are better trained in spying than in medicine. Paraguay, for instance, threw out thousands of Cuban doctors because they were interfering with that country's democratic political process.

What will Mitchell do when she comes back to the U.S. Can she practice medicine here? Back in March, I telephoned the Florida Medical Association to see if a Cuban trained doctor could practice in the state. I was told that the candidate would have to graduate from a medical school that is recognized by the World Health Organization, that the candidate would have to meet the license requirements of Florida statutes, and would have to pass all parts of the  United States Medical Licensing Examination, after which, the candidate would be considered for licensing. At the time, the Association did not know of any American studying in Cuba.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren