Located in Porto Alegre, capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA) is a Federal Institute of Higher Education, in operation since March 1961, when it was founded under the title of Faculdade Católica de Medicina de Porto Alegre (Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre). Federalized in 1980, by the Law N. 6891, it was named Fundação Faculdade Federal de Ciências Médicas de Porto Alegre (Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre). In January 2008, it obtained the status of university, being re-named as Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre - UFCSPA).
To date, UFCSPA is the only federal higher education institution specialized in Health Sciences. Its mission is to produce and share knowledge and educate professionals in the fields of Health Sciences with humanistic values and social responsibility. To reach its mission, UFCSPA cooperates with healthcare institutions in the city of Porto Alegre, such as the Santa Casa Hospital Complex, Hospital of Medical Emergencies, and the Conceição Hospital Group. On the north side of the city, the University operates in a Teaching and Healthcare District to deliver healthcare through community engagement, teaching, and research activities. Such partnerships provide students and faculty members with settings for practices in Primary Care in the real context of the Brazilian Public Health System. UFCSPA also advises the municipal and state governments on issues of health policy, as has been the case with the COVID-19 emergency.
UFCSPA holds undergraduate programs, stricto (master's and doctorate) and lato sensu (specialization) graduate programs, as well as medical residency programs. Example of excellence in education, 97% of the university’s faculty staff hold master’s and doctorate degrees. According to the General Index of Programs (IGC), published by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, UFCSPA is the university that holds the second highest score in the country and the highest in Rio Grande do Sul regarding undergraduate programs. In the general index, it is the second best in the state and the eighth best federal university in the country. It is also among the best universities in the world, the 85th best university in Latin America and among the 550 best universities in emerging economies according to the last Times Higher Education rankings, as well as among the 550 best institutions in Medicine according to the last QS Rankings by Subject. In the last Times Higher Education impact ranking, which is related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UFCSPA is among the top 600 institutions in the world in the general ranking, and is among the 200th best-positioned institutions regarding SDG 3, “Health and Well-Being”, and SDG 5, "Gender Equality".
Under the name of Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre, it was founded on December 8th, 1953, by a decree of the Archbishop of Porto Alegre, Dom Vicente Scherer. Activities began after an authorization that came through Decree No. 50165 on January 28th, 1961, and Decree No. 54234 officially recognized the college on September 2nd, 1964. On August 22nd, 1969, the college was authorized to operate as a "foundation governed by private law" under Decree-Law No. 781, under the name of Catholic College of Medicine of Porto Alegre.
The main feature of this institution, in addition to its high scientific-technical level, is the fact that it started as an “isolated” Medical School. Although this characteristic could initially appear to be a hindrance, it served to consolidate the university instead. Under that interpretation, in 1980, the college was once again accredited and then federalized by the Ministry of Education. On December 11th of that same year, Law No. 6891 changed the college’s name to Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre (FFFCMPA). In 1987, under Law No. 7596, of April 10th, the institution was acknowledged as a Public Foundation. On January 11th, 2008, under Law No. 11.641, the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre – UFCSPA – was set up to replace the former Federal College Foundation of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre.
Initially, the institution offered a single undergraduate program: Medicine. In 1964, with the implementation of the Medical Residency program, the strong ideal of pursuing the highest qualification in medical education was demonstrated. This essential goal kept guiding the university’s actions when in 1968 it implemented its first specialization program. This added experience enabled the institution to, from 1988 onwards, begin offering graduate programs at the Master’s level, followed later on by Doctorate.
Continuing to expand the range of actions within the realms of education and research, in 2004, with the consolidation of its graduate programs, UFCSPA broadened its activities beyond the circumscribed medical field and started to engage in health sciences on a broader scope. That was when the University started to offer two new undergraduate programs: Nutrition and Biomedical Sciences. In 2007, the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program welcomed its first incoming class. In 2008, the Psychology program was added to UFCSPA’s list of undergraduate program options, strengthening its potential for growth and development.
In the following years, programs in Nursing and Physical Therapy (2009), Pharmacy (2010), Gastronomy and Analytical Toxicology (2012), Medical Physics, Health Management and Food Technology (2014), Biomedical Informatics (2015), and Medicinal Chemistry (2016) were integrated to the undergraduate catalog.
Today, in addition to the 16 undergraduate programs, we offer 64 medical residency programs, 4 multi-professional residency programs, 9 specialization programs, and 12 graduate programs.
This expansion exemplifies UFCSPA’s pursuit of being a highly specialized educational institution in the health segment, having its origin and competence in the medical field driving its doings. For such reasons, UFCSPA has been sparing no efforts to qualify and expand its scope of action, within every field of health care.
UFCSPA’s quality infrastructure meets the needs of students and faculty demands alike. The laboratories are a perfect example of such attention, equipped with first-line material and state-of-the art technology. All rooms display a comfortable environment and a complete infrastructure at the professors’ needs.
The university has four auditoriums with different capacities, the largest holding 672 seats. There is also a room exclusively used for video conferencing that allows real-time transmission and reception of classes and lectures from and to other locations.
UFCSPA's library offers a collection of more than 40,000 copies of works on health as well as consultation terminals, research portals, and study rooms with Internet access.