Doctoral programs as a scientific problem in Cuban higher medical education

EDUMECENTRO 2023;15:e2537



Doctoral programs as a scientific problem in Cuban higher medical education

Los programas de doctorado como problema científico en la educación médica superior cubana


Calixto Orozco Muñoz1*
Oscar Cañizares Luna2
Nélida Liduvina Sarasa Muñoz2


1 University of Medical Sciences of Villa Clara. Rectorate. Villa Clara. Cuba.
2 University of Medical Sciences of Villa Clara. Scientific Degree Commission. Villa Clara. Cuba.


*Corresponding author. Email:



Submitted: 07/11/2022
Accepted: 17/11/2022



New challenge for the professors and researchers of the Cuban medical universities: the effective combination of teaching, medical care and research leading to doctoral training, in response to the growing claims to increasingly link science to the solution of the problems of society.

Although it is true that doctoral programs already have a national and international history of decades, it is not precisely in current medical universities where the greatest experiences are accumulated. For different reasons, it has been a tradition in doctoral training related to the area of medical and health sciences, to be processes that have mostly followed a route called "for free" as a flexible path with little institutional control.

With the approval of Law 372/2019 on the National System of Scientific Degrees of the Republic of Cuba,(1) doctoral training through programs was defined as a principle and as a working concept; decision that has put in tension the medical universities and other institutions of the national health system. The new normative documents issued by the National Commission for Scientific Degrees in accordance with the new law, make up a system of regulations and superior requirements with an impact on all higher education institutions in the country, including medical universities.(2,3,4,5)

Facing to such realities, Cuban higher medical education must grow in its academic projections, since up to now, in the lines of research and the researching actions that derive from them, there are very few studies focused on doctoral programs as the main figure. And unique, for the training of high-level researchers in the area of medical sciences and health sciences.

The researching dimensions in medical education expand towards academic training at the highest level; it is about the search for new knowledge necessary for the improvement of doctoral training, in response to the transformations demanded by the development of higher education in the country.

Thus, given the multiple scientific questions already identified in Cuban medical education, other no less essential linked to doctoral programs as the main scientific problem are opened and to which scientific answers must be given in a timely manner:

  • How to comply with current legislation from the particularities of the professionals of the national health system?
  • What solution does the dilemma between the flexibility of doctoral programs and the vulnerability in their formative quality require?
  • Why do doctors in medical sciences and health sciences graduate mostly after 40 and 50 years?
  • What solutions can there be for conflicts of agesocial service, first and second specialty, managerial policy-international collaboration in doctoral training?
  • Why not invest in doctoral programs as a source of development for medical universities?
  • How to integrate doctoral training into the care-teaching-research system?
  • How much does it weigh in the international ranking of medical universities, the training of doctors and its scientific productivity?
  • What do doctoral programs represent in the social relevance of Cuban medical universities?
  • How much scientific productivity would the research lines of the doctoral programs that are emerging contribute?
  • What characteristics should doctoral programs have in medical universities?
  • What would benefit doctoral training the most: the diversity of contextualized programs or unique programs by authorized institutions?
  • How to avoid overlapping of programs between medical institutions?

Undoubtedly, the answers to questions of this nature require scientific research through research typical of medical education.

Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences, an institution authorized for doctoral training since 2004, is aware that these are times to combine reflection and action in the face of new demands and is preparing to promote essential changes in this regard.



1. Consejo de Estado. Decreto - Ley No. 372/2019 del Sistema Nacional de Grados Científicos (GOC-2019-772-O65). La Habana: GOC; 2019.

2. MES. Subsistema de Evaluación y Acreditación de Programas de Doctorado de la República de Cuba. Resolución No. 12/19. La Habana: GOC; 2019.

3. MES. Resolución 3/2020 sobre la aprobación, modificación y cierre de los programas de doctorado por la Comisión Nacional de Grados Científicos. La Habana: GOC; 2020.

4. Ministerio de Educación Superior. Dirección de Grados Científicos. Sobre ratificación de programas de doctorado aprobados y plan de acciones de las instituciones autorizadas. La Habana: MES; 2020.

5. Ministerio de Educación Superior. Organización y funcionamiento del Sistema Nacional de Grados Científicos, así como la estructura, composición y funcionamiento de la Comisión Nacional de Grados Científicos. Resolución 139/2019. La Habana: MES; 2019.



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Contribution of the authors

Dr. C. Calixto Orozco Muñoz, Dr. C. Oscar Cañizares Luna and Dr. C. Nélida Liduvina Sarasa Muñoz: located the resolutions, analyzed their contents and based on their experiences, wrote the final report.

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