a country surprises

Walking the corridors of the Faculty of Medicine of La Plata is like attending an OAS (Organization of American States) convention. At every step you can listen to Latin American variants of the Spanish language or heated talks in Portuguese. The almost hundred-year-old building that stands in front of the La Plata Forest has been transformed into a cosmopolitan space.

It is not an exaggeration: one in two entrants seeking to be doctors is a foreigner. For the courses of the 2023 cycle that began on February 1, 4,471 young people registered in that race at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) and 2,168 -48%- have a document from another country.

But this phenomenon hides another piece of information that stands out when looking at the statistics: of the total number of students who come from abroad, half (1,170) are ecuadorians. In this way, they displaced Brazilians (17.5%, with 421 registered), Colombians (14.5%, 350 registered) and Peruvians (9%, 226 enrolled) in the La Plata classrooms.

The house of studies becomes a lighthouse, a pole of attraction for those who seek training. This occurs at the same time that the profession, in the Province (and in other jurisdictions) is crossed by various conflicts: protests by health professionals due to low income and poor working or building conditions; lack of coverage of charges in the public system. And a third factor that persists: violence against doctors in hospital guards and wards.

The oppressive heat of the first days of March makes Gabriel Esparza Mediavilla (20) misplaced, while he walks the last stretches of Avenida 60, near 122, to enter a class. It is that “Gabo” (as he was nicknamed in Argentina) is from Ibarra, Imbabura province, in the Ecuadorian highlands, and the temperatures there are more friendly.

Gabriel Esparza Mediavilla (20) came to study in Argentina because in his country it is almost impossible to access the degree.  Photo Mauricio Nievas

Gabriel Esparza Mediavilla (20) came to study in Argentina because in his country it is almost impossible to access the degree. Photo Mauricio Nievas

Understandable. 36° marked the thermometer near the La Plata Forest. “There (in reference to his birthplace) we only have two seasons and we are never above 28 degrees and below 20 degrees,” laments the student.

“I chose Argentina because In my country it is almost impossible to access a medical degree. There is a rigorous exam that the Secretary of Education asks for and then places to enter the university. The year I came (2021) you had to get 977 points out of 1,000 to qualify. And then there is a one-year course, like the CBC of the UBA”, Gabriel explained to Clarion about the reasons for your decision.

Free higher education and the prestige of the UNLP are variables that -according to the young people consulted by ClarionThey determine the choice. The latest publication of the Global Ranking of Universities (produced by a scientific institution in Spain) ranked the La Plata university as the second most important in the country and one of the top 15 in Latin America.

“UNLP has a historical tradition of receiving students from other countries, especially from the region and in Medicine. We understand higher education as a public and social good,” he told Clarion the president of the University, Martín López Armengol.

Health careers in Argentina had a historical attraction for non-residents. The latest statistics from the Secretariat of University Policies (SPU) determine that one in four foreigners registers in one of the health areaout of a total of 156 academic offers.

The paradox of training doctors who leave

The situation is different once the training stage is over. “The public health system presents conditions that do not favor professional insertion. Low salaries, lack of personnel in the establishments, severe infrastructure problems in buildings, lack of supplies and equipment”, described the president of Cicop (the union of provincial health professionals) Fernando Corsiglia.

Many students come from abroad to study here but later practice abroad.  Photo Mauricio Nievas

Many students come from abroad to study here but later practice abroad. Photo Mauricio Nievas

The doctor who begins his career in the public system receives 172,400 pocket pesos and the first-year resident 152,500, according to what the leader told Clarion.

“The data of foreigners in the race offers several readings. First, many of those resources that are formed will not integrate the public health scheme because they will return to their countries. I don’t have statistics, but we know that some stay and strengthen our system,” Corsiglia acknowledged.

To enter the race in the Province, citizenship is required. Not all graduates complete the process. They end up working with “scholarships” in a precarious situation, acknowledges the person in charge of Cicop.

The Faculty of Medicine of the UNLP had -until 2015- a strict system of selection of entrants. Between 450 and 600 students entered the first year –after tough admission tests. That mechanism was eliminated and since then between 5,000 and 7,000 applicants have been registered per year.

The faculty trains, but the graduates do not go to the public health system. “For about 6 years there are vacancies for admission to the residences of many medical specialties, a situation that had never been perceived and that of course is a very serious attack on medical training”, describes Diego Bares, head of the Clinical Service of the San Martín Hospital and professor of Clínica de the UNLP.

The reasons, according to Bares: “Poor wages, negative work environments, strenuous guards (24 consecutive hours). The difficulty in finding professionals also extends to the private system. That is why some institutes cannot complete the establishments for the guards”.

Melany Quiroz (19) was born in the city of Santo Domingo, the area they call the Ecuadorian “coast”. “In my country, university access is difficult -he agrees with his compatriot- and the options for those of us who can travel are Russia or Argentina”, says “Mel”, as she is known in commission 16 of Anatomy.

Melany Quiroz (19) says that for Ecuadorians it is cheaper to study in Argentina than in Quito.  Photo Mauricio Nievas

Melany Quiroz (19) says that for Ecuadorians it is cheaper to study in Argentina than in Quito. Photo Mauricio Nievas

“A friend came a few years ago and I followed in his footsteps. Here we are in one of the main universities in Latin America and We spend less than if I went to study in Quito”, he assures.

There enters one of the key factors of the Ecuadorian phenomenon: the boys who spoke with Clarion agree: in La Plata they live with 200 to 300 dollars per month. Ecuador has a dollarized economy and the devaluation of the Argentine currency favors them.

“My parents saved their whole lives so that I could study. With that fund I can make my career here ”, Esparza Mediavilla resumes the talk.

Private education in his country does not seem to be an option, at least for Ecuadorians who arrive in La Plata. “It costs you an arm and a leg. The medicine cycle is around 5 thousand dollars a year and as you advance, the value goes up, ”he told Clarion Mayerlín Morcillo (20), who is in his second year and is about to advance to his third year in the Buenos Aires capital.

A faculty that still has not come out of the pandemic

favorable monetary conditions and free prestige. The formula that summons foreigners to Medicine. But not everything is as it seems. The massiveness and the pandemic affected academic conditions.

“Last year I had an hour of Anatomy every 15 days. The full attendance has not yet been obtained. We have had to practice the auscultation technique with Youtube videos”, said Gabriel.

In the Faculty of Medicine of the UNLP, half of the entrants are foreigners.  Photo Mauricio Nievas

In the Faculty of Medicine of the UNLP, half of the entrants are foreigners. Photo Mauricio Nievas

Last year when post-Covid life was almost normal, Medicine continued with more than half of its virtual courses. There were student protests to be allowed to return to the classroom.

Even, the dean Juan Angel Basualdo, agreed on the votes of the students for his re-election in office, in exchange for resuming the face-to-face. Basualdo was re-elected, but dozens of chairs are still maintained with classes for Zoom.

“I studied histology all over the internet. This part is not what I imagined when I decided to travel to La Plata”, acknowledges the Ecuadorian university student.

Clarion tried to gather the position of the academic authorities of Medicine for this note, but they did not respond. The lack of presence has an impact on the results. This week, 75% of the nearly 900 students who took a Biology exam were failed.

In August 2022, all those who presented an Infectious Disease test were dismissed. A few months earlier, 80% of the students in Anatomy “C” (one of the first-year chairs) and the same percentage in Infectology (in the fourth year) failed the first partial exams that were taken after more than two years. of virtual classes.

The Silver. correspondent


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Elton Gardner

Elton Gardner is a seasoned writer and editor for He is a graduate of a prestigious journalism school and has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines. Elton is an expert in various fields, including sports, entertainment, and technology. He is widely respected for his insights and engaging writing style. As an editor, Elton oversees a team of writers and ensures the website stays current with the latest trends and breaking news. His writing is characterized by its depth, clarity, and accessibility. Elton's spare time is spent with his family, playing sports, reading, and traveling to explore new cultures. With his talent, experience, and dedication, Elton Gardner is a prominent figure in online media and will continue to make waves in the years to come.

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