Cuban docs, health professionals are migrating to U.S. more

While Cuban doctors have migrated to South Florida for the last half century, hoping for the opportunity of a better life--whether that be practicing medicine or waiting tables--the number of physicians coming to this country has dramatically increased since 2006, according to a story in the New York Times.

Three years ago, the Department of Homeland Security started a program essentially allowing Cuban medical workers to come to the U.S. legally if they "study or work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government"; Cuba is known for a medical mission program that has sent 185,000-plus workers to 103 countries around the world since 1959.

Since that 2006, though, roughly 6,000 medical workers, a good portion of which are doctors, have taken advantage of the program. And this year alone, Cuba's news agency reports that more than 25,000 people graduated in some sort of health profession.

Despite the rush to get here though, many Cuban health professionals have found the transition difficult. Between the necessity to relearn their trade in English, their age--many doctors from Cuba are 40 by the time they reach the U.S.--and the need to support their families, life in a new place can prove a tough climb.

"They are not going to be accepted as readily as American-trained doctors are for some of the more competitive residency programs," said Dr. J. Donald Temple, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami who runs a training program for Latin American and Caribbean doctors to become leaders in the medical field in their own countries. "Many programs would not even consider them."

To learn more about this trend:
- read the New York Times article