The Ponce School of Medicine
and Health Sciences is located in Ponce, a city on the southern
coast of the island of Puerto Rico. Some 70 miles/100 kilometers
from the capital city of San Juan, Ponce is the tropical island’s
second largest urban center.
Since the early 1940s, the citizens of Ponce had dreamed of
establishing a medical school. This dream became reality in 1977
when 26 students became the charter class of the Catholic University
of Puerto Rico’s newly established school of medicine. Twenty-eight
students enrolled in 1978, and 40 in 1979; in that same year, the
Catholic University decided to phase out the barely established
medical program. In January 1980, a group of dynamic leaders in the
Ponce community established the Ponce Medical School Foundation,
Inc., under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; the
Foundation assumed responsibility for the school’s operation,
becoming the de facto administration The transition from the medical
school’s being part of the Catholic University to being a
freestanding institution was managed successfully by the new
administration in such a way that maintained the program’s
In July 1980, the Council of Higher Education of Puerto Rico (CHE-PR)
authorized the Foundation to operate the Ponce School of Medicine.
In 1981, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) granted
accreditation to the MD program. Under this new administration
(governed by a board of trustees composed primarily of the very same
dynamic leaders mentioned before), the now, private, freestanding
Ponce School of Medicine graduated its first class of 23 students in
1981. Since then, Ponce School of Medicine has operated
uninterrupted and has graduated more than one thousand health
Starting in 1980, the institution began a period of steady growth,
evidenced by the increasing number of students per class and an
expansion of scope to include research. The Graduate Program in
Biomedical Sciences (a PhD program) was initiated in 1988; in 1992,
the Council of Higher Education of Puerto Rico (CHE-PR), in
accordance with the regulatory requirements of the time, authorized
the PhD program to award a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in
Soon enough, the need for better and larger facilities became
evident. A new campus for Ponce School of Medicine was inaugurated
in January 1995. These new facilities included a research building,
a library, classrooms, a teaching laboratory, and the gross anatomy
PSM inaugurated its first mental health clinic in 1999. Since then,
five others have been added, extending the current reach of PSMHS’s
mental health service offerings to include much of southwestern
During the1999-2000 academic year (after having received
authorization from the CHE-PR), PSM implemented the Clinical
Psychology Doctoral Program (PsyD Program). This program was
accredited in 2004 by the American Psychological Association (APA).
The reaccreditation site visit occurred in the spring of 2007,
resulting in the program’s receiving accreditation through 2014. An
expansion of the program’s curriculum resulted in the offering of a
PhD in Psychology and a certificate in couples and family therapy.
The Ambulatory Center for Medical Research (in Spanish, Centro
Ambulatorio de Investigaciones Medicas, or CAIMED) was initiated in
2001 and is participating in over forty clinical studies aimed at
improving the quality of healthcare being offered to our population.
The Ponce School of Medicine Practice Group (MultiMed Services), an
intramural multispecialty ambulatory healthcare center, was
inaugurated in 2001.
In August 2002, PSM started a CHE-PR–authorized master’s program in
public health (MPH) with 30 students. At present, the public health
program offers master’s degrees in three areas: public health,
environmental health, and epidemiology. This program also offers a
PhD in Epidemiology.
Affiliations with prestigious educational and scientific
institutions, training programs, and healthcare services (both in
the continental U.S. and in Puerto Rico) have also been established.
Our institution conducts basic and clinical research studies,
carries out community educational programs at all levels, and looks
after the physical and mental health of our community through
multiple program services. Avant-garde programs established in the
field of mental health have had—and are having—a very positive
impact on the community.
Over the years, PSM has grown to become an internationally
prestigious educational institution, now being one of the most
important Hispanic medical schools in the western hemisphere. Of the
141 schools surveyed, Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences
ranks number nine in terms of the fulfilling of its social mission.
Our graduates are highly respected worldwide, excelling both at home
and abroad. in
Recently, our school was chosen by the Federal Department of Health
and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health
Information technology, to operate one of 62 Regional Extension
Centers (RECs) in the United States. These centers are charged with
helping primary care physicians successfully adopt and implement
health information technology; the PSMHS REC will serve Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Over the years, our institution has assumed a greater role within
the community as a healthcare service provider; where once the focus
was on preparing individuals to be exceptional healthcare
professionals and researcher scientists, now the school has taken on
the additional responsibility of more directly serving the
community. This self-imposed expansion of duties resulted in the
school’s name being changed to Ponce School of Medicine and Health
Sciences, which name better reflects the school’s increased
commitment to the people of Ponce, of Puerto Rico as a whole. At
that point, a new official logo was also designed.
The Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences has played a vital
role in the history of medicine in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the
school has a long record of providing high quality healthcare
services to the island’s population and comparably high quality
education to island residents and beyond; its contributions have not
been restricted to the island where it makes it home, but have had
an impact felt by people the world over. This touching of lives on a
global scale is a source of tremendous pride for all who are
associated with Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences.