Day 3- Visit to the Lidia Doce Nursing School, HIV Clinic, and the Center for Sexual Health
Grace Cha, Erica Change and Danielle Turpin
On the third day we had the opportunity to visit the School of Nursing in Cuba. We were able to learn that their school system varies slightly from the nursing schools in the United States. The training for nurses and doctors in Cuba are free of charge but the application process is competitive. There are two pathways to become a registered nurse: the clinical nurse degree and the baccalaureate prepared nurse. The clinical nurse degree is equivalent to the Associate’s degree in the U.S. Those students who have finished the 9th grade can apply for entrance to study the clinical degree nurse and complete the curriculum in two years. Those students who wish to obtain a bachelor degree in nursing must finish high school at the 12th grade level and apply to a four-year university to study nursing. The application includes an entrance exam and the students’ scores from 10th-12th grade.
Cuba does not have a nurse practitioner program; however, baccalaureate prepared nurses can directly refer complicated cases and take actions in emergent situations without the physician. Nurses in Cuba, just like the United States, are not allowed to prescribe medications. It was interesting to visit the School of Nursing in Cuba because prior to the visit we had learned about the importance of Consutorios, which are clinics within the community. We discussed in great detail regarding Cuba’s health care system and its emphasis on community health and preventative care. These nurses are trained to learn about their community and the patient population, and eventually work in various settings such as the polyclinics or the consutorios in the designated community. We were able to interact with the nurses in the polyclinic who uphold accountability, excellence, and compassion through their profession which are similar to that of the nurses here in the United States. It was an amazing experience to be able to connect with nurses in Cuba.
After our visit to the Nursing School we went to one of the clinics that specializes in STI prevention, with a focus on the health of LGBT community members. This community clinic stresses the importance of healthy relationships, mental health, and HIV prevention. We were all curious (and amazed) to learn there is a decrease in social stigma the LGBT community experiences in Cuba, as well as the extensive preventative care for STI’s/HIV. There are mobile clinics that provide education on safe sex and testing for STI’s/HIV. We finished the day at a Censex Center, or a Center for Sexual Health. It was here that we better understood the social obligation for encouraging safe sex throughout the community. Reflecting on our own healthcare system in the United States, including the associated social stigmas, it was so refreshing to experience a culture with an open dialogue of STI’s/HIV prevention and inclusion of the LGBT community.