Cubans in Florida - A Project of Cuban Studies Institute

Explore the Journey of Cubans in the State of Florida

Rafael Peñalver, M.D.

Dr. Peñalver was an exemplary physician both in Cuba and in the United States. Peñalver and his family fled Cuba in 1961. Once in Miami, Peñalver joined the Cuban Refugee Center medical staff and the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Unable to practice medicine in the United States, Dr. Peñalver, along with other collaborators, founded the Office of international Medical Education of the University of Miami. In conjunction with the faculty of the University of Havana – School of Medicine in Exile, they were able to organize a course designed to enable the Cuban physicians to obtain the state licensing examinations in the shortest possible time.

Under Dr. Peñalver’s leadership, the program evolved into a broad international program that helped to upgrade the standards of medical care throughout the world. Over 10,000 physicians and health professionals from 60 different countries participated in the program from 1961 to 1965.

A gifted professor as well, he was invited to lecture at medical schools around the world. Shortly before his death in 1988, Dr. Peñalver was honored with the Carlos J Finlay Outstanding Physician Award.

Dr. Rafael Peñalver Clinic in Miami carries the name of Dr. Rafael A. Peñalver, in honor of his legacy. The clinic has been a model for neighborhood health for over 17 years. It’s located in Little Havana, and provides comprehensive primary care services such as adult medicine and pediatrics. The clinic also facilitates referrals to Jackson Memorial Hospital for specialized services.

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