The first doctors graduated in Santa Clara: a necessary historical precision


The first doctors graduated in Santa Clara: a necessary historical precision


Los primeros médicos graduados en Santa Clara: una precisión histórica necesaria



Ida Santana Pérez, José Ramón Ruiz Hernández

University of Medical Sciences of Villa Clara. Cuba.



To the editor:

The development of medical teaching in the central region of the country is on the way to its 52nd anniversary, which is cause for pride and satisfaction for all of us who have been participants in this process.

We have appreciated that for several years it has been making a laudable effort to reflect in documents, publications, multimedia, etc., the history of this event, so that future generations know about it. In this way they have been able to define with scientific basis some historical questions that at a given moment were controversial as they were:

  • The founders of teaching.
  • The first teachers and students.
  • The existence of the "Marta Abreu Plan" as a strategy for teacher decentralization.
  • The first directors of teaching and the role of Professor Ricardo Jorge Oropesa M.D.

In many of these cases, the prestigious EDUMECENTRO Journal, where you are the Editor in Chief, has served as an illuminating framework for these and other issues of interest related to this beautiful page in the history of public health in Villa Clara;1,2 however, there is still some controversy and divergent criteria around the first doctors who graduated in this territory and this is precisely the subject that occupies us in this letter.

Research carried out through the review of published and unpublished works on the subject, interviews, official documents issued at the "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas and newspapers of the time allow us to affirm that the first graduation of doctors in the city of Santa Clara was held in 1969 and not in 1970. Some colleagues who have written on the subject argue that the criterion taken into account to state the year 1970 as the first graduation, was because it was the first group of students who arrived at Santa Clara who founded the School of Medicine in 1966 and graduated in that year.

We do not pretend with this historical clarification, to undermine the merit that this group of students has as founders and first students, but to say that they were the first graduated doctors would lead to assume an error, not possible to allow according to the methodology of historical research that it states as one of its pillars the perennial search for scientific truth.

What these authors have researched on it clarifies that to that initial group of students who came to Santa Clara in 1966 to inaugurate our School of Medicine and take the third year of the degree, was joined in 1967 another group that completed the clinical cycle from third to sixth year. From this second group, the students who had finished their sixth year of the degree, when they finished, received their degree from the University of Havana, however, those who arrived in the fifth year of the degree and attended that year and also the internship (sixth year) were graduated by the "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas as recorded in the books of the secretariat of that university center, and in the certificates issued, so they were really the first doctors graduated in this territory.

The historical fact is there, in official documents which can not be ignored by the will of the people or a simple consensus of a group of colleagues, who we are sure have not had the intention of distorting history, but just as they tried to clarifying the theme of the founders (and in fact they did), they also tried to unify the criteria about the first graduates, but the feelings and recognition towards the founding students, can not lead us to ignore the scientifically proven historical fact.

The ethics of historical research in Cuba states:

  • Perennial search for scientific truth.
  • Fair ideological orientation, together with an adequate professional competence.
  • Encourage controversy and debate with freedom of speech and fair use of criticism and self-criticism.
  • Maximum respect to any opinion contrary to yours.
  • Observe the rules of professional discussion and not use resources outside of it to impose their criteria.

On the basis of these concepts we have tried to give our opinion and leave this historical fact, leaving the subject open to any opinion about it.


Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



1. Ruiz Hernández JR, Santana Pérez I. Plan Marta Abreu y su contribución a la descentralización de los estudios médicos en Cuba. EDUMECENTRO [Internet]. 2014 [citado 18 Sep 2018];6(1):[aprox. 15 p.]. Disponible en:

2. Marcial Claro R, Ruiz Hernández JR. Esclarecimiento necesario de dos hechos históricos de la docencia en la región central del país. EDUMECENTRO [Internet]. 2013 [citado 18 Sep 2018];5(1):[aprox. 4 p.]. Disponible en:



Submitted: September 25 2018
Accepted: September 25 2018.



Ida Santana Pérez. Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. Email:



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