Department Spotlight: Dr. Sofia Cuba

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Cusco, the ancient city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire, but I was raised in Arequipa in the south of Peru.

What degree(s) do you have, and from what university?
I first studied medicine at the Catholic University of Santa Maria, in my hometown Arequipa. I then did my residency in Family Medicine at the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia in Lima, and after that I completed a Masters in Social Management at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. I also completed the Faculty Development Program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas in 2010.

What is it like to be the first MClSc in Family Medicine in Peru?
I am proud to be the first graduate of the MCISc Program in Family Medicine at Western University in Peru. It was a challenge for me to complete the program, but I felt that in order to contribute to the development of Family Medicine in Peru, it was an important step to take.

How do you see yourself encouraging others in Peru to enroll in the MClSc program in Family Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University?
I chose Western because I wanted to learn the tools necessary to improve training in Family Medicine in my country, and also to influence the development of a better health system based on primary health care.

The Department of Family Medicine is very well known in Latin America; Dr. Ian McWhinney who established the Department of Family Medicine at Western University influenced the careers and the attitudes of family doctors around the world. Dr. McWhinney is considered the Father of Family Medicine in many countries because he developed the academic basis of our professional discipline.

I would recommend this program to all family doctors that want to help to develop a primary health care system based on family medicine in Peru and Latin America.

How will your MClSc help you build the discipline of Family Medicine in Peru?
Since completing my residency I have been dedicated to teaching Family Medicine. The Peruvian Health Care System requires major change and family physicians must help in designing and implementing those changes.

At present, there is a desperate need for family physicians within Lima as well as the other provinces in Peru. Family Physicians must be advocates to liberate Family Medicine from the politics driving health care in Peru and thus make it a more respected discipline with a solid academic reputation. I believe that good training programs can make this happen.

In order to change this reality, we have to change the paradigm of the healthcare workers. We need research at the local level to increase awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of primary health care, which is based / embedded in the public health care system.  Family Medicine needs to be the coordinator of the healthcare team.