Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Medicine and Healthcare in Cuba-Michael Goetsch

The topic of my research project this semester is healthcare. Cuba is reputed to have an exceptional healthcare system. Per capita, they spend a fraction of what we do in the U.S. and oftentimes have better healthcare outcomes. This difference is typically attributed to the Cuban focus on primary care. This semester, I will explore and investigate the Cuban healthcare system and conduct a comparative analysis between the U.S. and Cuban systems. Some of the questions I will seek to answer are: Does universal healthcare in Cuba equate to universal access? What is the average wait time before seeing a physician or other healthcare provider? How easy/difficult is it to see a specialist? Is primary care predominantly provided by physicians or do nurses and nurse practitioners play a role as well? What is the professional relationship between doctors and nurses in Cuba? What is the average wait time before having a necessary surgery? Is prescription medication widely available? Is it expensive or affordable? What is palliative care like in Cuba? How do Cubans view terminal illness, euthanasia, and assisted suicide? In the eyes of average Cubans, what are the best and worst aspects of the healthcare system?

In addition to the patient perspective, I would also like to learn more about the healthcare system from the perspective of the providers. What is the primary motivation for becoming a nurse or physician in Cuba? What is medical education like here? How long is the process? What does it cost? What is the licensing process like? Are Cuban nurses and physicians happy and satisfied with their professions here? Is continuing medical education required? How long is the average medical career here? What are the laws regarding patient privacy? I plan on interviewing doctors, nurses, and everyday Cubans as well as visiting hospitals, clinics, and a medical school to conduct my research. After three months, I hope to gain a holistic view of the Cuban healthcare system as well as an appreciation for its similarities and differences with the U.S. system.


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