A Michigan State University course will bring U.S. medical students to Cuban hospitals to learn about the country's medical system starting next year, organizers said Tuesday.
The two-week course comes as the U.S. and Cuba are trying to improve commercial and other ties after the restoration of diplomatic relations.
"These students will study the Cuban health system and have the ability to compare it to the U.S.," William Cunningham, assistant dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in western Michigan and one of those behind the effort, said in a statement.
"We want them to understand that even with all of the advances in medical technology here in America, Cuba's medical system is grounded in primary care and public health."
Starting in April, the school said 16 of its fourth-year osteopathic and human medicine students will take part in the course. Partnering medical institutions in Cuba include a teaching hospital, a hospital specializing in pediatrics and one specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
Marcia Garcia, a general surgeon in Cuba and an adjunct professor in Michigan State University's Institute of International Health, is among those who will teach students.
Cunningham and additional course creators Gary Willyerd, an associate dean in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Rene Hinojosa, a professor in the School of Planning, Design and Construction, also will accompany and instruct the students.
The East Lansing school said it's the first to solidify an agreement with the Cuban government and develop such a new, for-credit clinical course. Those interested may apply to participate and the school said it already has 30 applicants for the first one.