Latin America and Spanish
Educational Opportunities in International
Photos: Hemal Kanzaria, Mabel
Onwuka, and Mariel Solares
(formerly UC-Mexico Exchange Program)
Health Initiative of the Americas, in association with UC Office of the President, runs this month-long immersion program for MS1s. Its purpose is to help train future health professionals to care for Spanish-speaking
patients in a culturally competent manner. The program includes morning rounds at primary care facilities, afternoon Spanish classes, weekend excursions and cultural visits, and home stay accommodations with a Mexican family. Students applying to this program should have an intermediate level of Spanish. Those with beginning or no Spanish, and those with advanced or native speaking abilities, should not apply. An informal interview to assess language ability is required. Partial funding is available through a competitive process.
Deadline: March 17
This four-week summer program in Fresno teaches medical Spanish by focusing
on basic skill building in the physical examinations of adults and pediatric
patients. Participants also have the opportunity to use their acquired
skills in outpatient settings serving Latino patients. For more information
please visit the Medical
Spanish & Clinical Skills Program website.
Deadline: March 31
UCSF students who complete Ob/Gyn
170.01 in Winter quarter may apply to a summer practicum experience
in Mexico where they can attain clinical and public health experience
in Latina health. Students participate in ongoing reproductive health
research projects with Dr. Walker at the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
(12 hours per week) while attending Spanish language school 20 hours per
week. The students live with a family to facilitate language immersion
and volunteer in a clinic four hours per week. After this elective and
practicum, students should be able to do the following: perform a women's
health-focused patient history interview in Spanish; converse with a patient
in Spanish about basic issues such as lactation, pregnancy, contraception;
grasp the complexities and fun of clinical research in an international
setting; demonstrate language proficiency in an international women's
health setting; and identify the principal reproductive health problems
and priorities in Mexico including maternal mortality, unplanned adolescent
pregnancy and abortion. Students can spend 4-8 weeks there for a total
of 5-10 units depending on the number of weeks. See application
form for more information.
UCSF School of Medicine
There are various summer opportunities in Obstetrics and Gynecology, including
time in a basic research lab, a clinical research project, clinical community
experiences, and international health opportunities. Contact: Patty
This intensive language program offers students the opportunity to study
Medical Spanish and Mexican health culture, while living with a Mexican
host family in Cuernavaca, Mexico for a total immersion experience. Students
will participate in language classes three times a week in small group
settings, engage in weekly cultural activities, and observe in hospitals
and clinics. Students may also be asked to participate in tasks in hospital,
depending on language skills and level of training. The program fee for
4 weeks is $860 plus the cost of housing and meals. For more information,
Four-week electives in February and April are available at STEER for students in medicine, nursing, allied health and public health who have interests in international health, border health, cultural aspects of health and environmental health. Tuition and housing are provided free of charge. Students participate in experiential learning in the communities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo or Harlingen and Matamoros, at the U.S.-Mexico Border. The STEER program has received State and national awards for its community-based, "hands-on" approach to training health professionals in public health. Sponsored by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Department of Family & Community Medicine. Additional slots may be available later this year. http://steer.uthscsa.edu/ For further information, please contact Stella Olveda academic coordinator at 210-567-7407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is designed to help students achieve effective communication
with Spanish speaking patients and perform every day healthcare functions,
(i.e. interviewing patients, taking a medical history, conducting a physical
examination, giving prescription and follow-up instructions, etc.), in
Spanish. The program combines language acquisition with "role playing" that focuses on specific vocabulary related to medical-health, and examines
socio-cultural factors that influence the Mexican perception of health
and health-care. It also offers guided visits to local hospitals, healthcare
centers, and an exploration of traditional therapies of medicine and its
impact on healthcare. Volunteer work with a clinical component is available
upon request. For more information please visit: http://www.kukulcan.com.mx/.
IASE offers experiential learning programs for anyone interested in health,
education or environmental studies and who wants to develop these skills
while working within an indigenous or urban culture. Programs focus on
health and education, support group projects, mental health projects,
education for children and adolescents, women's health issues, nutrition
and other topics and services identified by the local community that affect
their well being. Time is spent working in clinics, and participants also
attend classes and seminars and work on community research projects. For
more information, see IASE
has been forced to suspend courses in Cuba due to White House restrictions
limiting educational travel to the island. Longer stays in Cuba (over
10 weeks) may still be available under sanctions.
Intended for fourth-year students with advanced or intermediate Spanish
skills, MEDICC electives provide an overview of the Cuban public health
system and visits to primary and tertiary care facilities. During the
four- or six-week elective in February and March, students are introduced
to community-oriented primary care and are given the opportunity to work
closely with a family doctor-nurse team in a Cuban province. MEDICC also
offers spring and summer electives. For more information and application
materials, please visit www.medicc.org.
You may also contact the MEDICC U.S. Director, Diane Appelbaum email@example.com
or the Program Coordinator, Adrianne Du'sauzay firstname.lastname@example.org.
The program focuses on family-centered care and ongoing partnerships with
Belizean providers. A small-team approach is used to promote cultural
as well as medical interchange with minimal disruption. For more information,
see the Belize
International Health Program page.
Pop Wuj offers an opportunity for medical students to learn Spanish while
providing services to the communities in and around Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
The program includes one-on-one Spanish instruction, placement with a
host family, cultural competence seminars, work in medical clinics around
Quetzaltenango, and volunteer community development activities. The program
is offered year-round. For more information, please visit http://www.pop-wuj.org/.
This program offers two courses. The first is an immersion Spanish language
study with onsite exposure to primary and community health care in Guatemala.
The second course provides one week of language review followed by three
weeks of clinical experience at San Lucas Tolimán. Lectures and
field trips supplement the clinical experience for the second course.
One-on-one language instruction is provided through the "Escuela
de Español San José el Viejo" in Antigua. For more
information visit www.unmc.edu.
Mayan Medical Aid runs two health programs in Guatemala. The first,
Medical Spanish, held in Lake Atitlan, consists of six modules of progressive
Spanish language skill levels to provide participants with the knowledge
they need to use Medical Spanish in their clinical practices as well as
to support the Clinic operation. The second program, International Medicine,
in Santa Cruz La Laguna encompasses 10 modules with a focus on global
health, giving students the opportunity to practice their Spanish skills
in the community. Both programs allow time for 3-4 hours of didactic teaching
and 3-4 hours of clinical practice each day in the Clinic. For more information,
please visit http://mayanmedicalaid.org/index.htm.
This volunteer opportunity places a 4th year student in a small
clinic and community health project in Estancia, a village in eastern
El Salvador. The experience includes clinical, project management and
health project involvement. The selected candidate will have the opportunity
to contribute significantly to social justice through a community based
organization, experience a wide range of clinical work, especially in
pediatrics and Ob/Gyn, learn about and use local natural medicines, participate
in public health campaigns, and much more. Applicants must speak fluent
Spanish, have cross-cultural experience, demonstrated adaptability and
flexibility in difficult environments, and the ability to follow local
priorities. In addition, candidates must also have initiative, creativity
and the ability to work independently. See: http://www.dghonline.org/ To apply, please e-mail Doctors
for Global Health at email@example.com.
The clinic offers a unique summer volunteer program for first- and second-year
medical students in Managua, Nicaragua. Volunteers participate in or conduct
a public health research project or study approved by the clinic physicians
during a stay of four or more weeks. The typical study involves interaction
with the residents of the communities served by the clinic and clinical
exposure is elective (the primary focus is non-clinical). Students live
with Nicaraguan families and must be comfortably conversant in Spanish.
For additional information please contact Sara E. Pirtle, Coordinator
for International Studies & Programs at the University of Nebraska
Medical Center at 402-559-2924, or www.unmc.edu.
IHCAI is a non-profit foundation working for medical education, the development of health research and for the improvement of health in the communities of Central America. It aims to provide continuous medical education opportunities for health care providers and to promote access to health information for health care recipients. IHCAI is devoted to enhancing research skills in primary care, and is oriented towards knowledge-based solutions to health problems. IHCAI Foundation is based in Costa Rica and offers clinical clerkships and medical Spanish training programs for residents, medical students, and other health professionals from abroad. The educational program is primary-care-based and covers mother and child, adolescents, adults and elderly health. The problem-based learning model (PBL/PBI) has been in use since 2000. There are opportunities for students and visiting fellows to actively participate in the problem solving process in the area. For more information visit the IHCAI website.
Reproductive Health in Quito, Ecuador: The Reproductive Health program gives students the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations that are focused strictly on reproductive and women's health. Students will be able to observe how reproductive healthcare functions in a socially conservative country where there is limited discussion and openness regarding sexual health issues
Andean Health in Quito, Ecuador: Experience the rich culture and history of Ecuador's vibrant capital city while learning about the healthcare challenges facing the region. One of CFHI's longest-running programs, the Andean Health program offers a comprehensive learning experience that encompasses both unique cultural opportunities and the chance to work at a variety of clinical sites.
Vector-borne Diseases in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Join in the effort to eradicate these diseases by participating in the Malaria Control Services (SNEM Zone II), which operates in the Napo and Pastaza provinces in the Ecuadorian Amazon. SNEM is a public institution that is in charge of preventing and controling vector-borne diseases such as Chagas, dengue, malaria, leishmaniasis and yellow fever. Amazon Indigenous Health, Ecuador
Amazon Community Medicine, Ecuador: Participate in community healthcare services and learn about the healthcare challenges facing rural communities like those in the Amazonian border town of Puyo. In Puyo, students will witness the ways in which socioeconomic and cultural factors have shaped the healthcare system of the region. As in other developing South American countries, meager financial means, adherence to traditional medical practices, and lack of access to healthcare providers often hamper the rural population's ability to seek healthcare services.
Urban & Rural Comparative Health, Ecuador: Explore the urban and rural healthcare systems of Ecuador through clinical rotations that will highlight the differences of healthcare services in the two regions. Students will spend the first portion of the program in Quito, the lively capital city of Ecuador. There, they will take medical and conversational Spanish classes and be immersed in the rich culture.
Sonrie Ecuador- Dental Program in Quito, Ecuador: The “Sonrie Ecuador Clinics” provide dental care and promote oral health in Quito and its surrounding neighborhoods. The clinics have been operating for over twelve years and continually strive to better the services offered to their patients give attention to the dental health. Ecuadorians are considered to be concerned about their dental health, although adequate oral hygiene is not, in reality, reported amongst the majority of the population
Changas in Southern Bolivia: CFHI’s Chagas program in Tarija, Bolivia provides students an opportunity to learn about an infectious disease that is a major cause of death and disability in Latin America, but which is very rarely seen in industrialized countries. According to the CDC, an estimated 8 to 11 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America are currently infected with Chagas. It is an infection which is often symptom-free and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Students will participate in prevention and epidemiological programs as well as clinical rotations where they will observe the various manifestations and stages of Chagas infection.
Pediatric Health in La Paz, Bolivia: The Pediatric Health program in La Paz, Bolivia, offers a holistic and unique learning experience. Participants will rotate at various pediatric clinics and hospitals experiencing first-hand the challenges of providing children services in resource-poor settings while gaining an understanding of the socioeconomic and cultural barriers mothers face in accessing those services for their children. Additionally, students take medical and conversational Spanish classes and reside in a homestay with a local family in La Paz.
This medical program offers medical students, doctors, nurses and those interested in the medical field a chance to experience health care in a developing country. The program is one month long and is offered every month of the year. Students receive 40 hours of Spanish classes with a focus on medical terminology, and they volunteer in one or more of the many medical clinics in the area. There is also an option to spend two weeks in Quito and two weeks in the rural Amazonian community of Palora, near the city of Puyo. Students stay with local families. The cost of the program is $2000. For more information, see Sustainable Volunteer Ecuador's website.
Interhealth offers summer and winter programs in international health and medical Spanish in Ecuador, for first and fourth year medical students and resident physicians. The programs are intended to serve as an introduction to the practice of health care and service in a Latin American cultural context, in addition to providing immersion medical Spanish language instruction. There is a homestay portion of the program and a travel portion. Program directors are North American physicians who remain in Ecuador with participants for the entire period of the program. For more information and program dates, visit www.InterhealthSouthAmerica.net or contact Don Wedemeyer, MD or Marta Alarcón, MD, Interhealth South America, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., USF 30404, Tampa, FL 33620, tel. 813-935-3480, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is an extension to the current Child Family Health International
(CFHI) program in Quito, Ecuador and accepts only four students per month
in a rotation focused on Reproductive and Women's Health issues. The program
is open to pre-med students, medical students, RNs, nursing students and
others. Activities may include: contraception methods, tubal ligations,
vasectomies, breast illnesses, pap smears, cyst related illnesses, and
health education in reproductive health. For more information visit www.cfhi.org.
Global Health Electives in Bolivia, Ecuador, & Mexico
Rolling Deadline/Offered Year Round
CFHI provides community-based global health education programs for health science students and institutions. Our unique model fosters reciprocal partnerships and empowerment in local communities—transforming perspectives about self, healing and global citizenship. Programs are 4-8 weeks long and include clinical rotations, medical lectures, accommodation, meals, and Spanish language classes. Visit www.cfhi.org or contact email@example.com for more information.
The Cacha Medical Spanish Institute provides immersion language programs
in Medical Spanish and clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics around
Riobamba. The Spanish teachers and clinical preceptors are faculty members
at the Escuela Superior Politecnica de Chimborazo (ESPOCH). The program
includes housing and meals as well as cultural activities and local trips.
For more information, please visit www.cachamsi.com.
The Cinterandes Foundation is dedicated to improve the quality of life
for people in Ecuador. Health care is at the heart of the Foundation's
programs, and rotations for foreign students are available in the Mobile
Surgery Unit and in the Vicente Corral Moscoso Hospital (which is affiliated
with the University of Cuenca). The Mobile Surgery Unit travels to neighboring
towns and provinces, and allows students to engage with the patients during
all phases of care. A UCSF student who participated in the program recommends
this site for students who are "very independent". Visit their
to find out more about the programs.
Fast Forward Institute, in partnership
with Hospital of Tropical Diseases of Maceio, Brazil and the Federal University
of the State of Alagoas
Offered year round
The goal of this program is to familiarize students with public health
issues in Brazil while providing on-site language training in Portuguese.
The program is composed of public health seminars, excursions, language
training and supervised research in public health. Some prior knowledge
of Portuguese is preferred, but students with an intermediate level of
Spanish may also qualify. There is a program fee of $2,020.00 for four
weeks (includes tuition, room & board, class materials and excursion
costs). For more information, visit the Fast
The Programa de Medicina Interna General (PMIG) is an ambulatory clinic
for medical care of adult patients in the Department of Medicine at the
Hospital de Clinicas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Visiting students participate
in weekly journal clubs, daily clinical conferences, and have the opportunity
to be actively involved with patient care. Students also work with a designated
mentor to develop individualized objectives for the program. Contact the Programa de Medicina Interna General for more information.
During the Elebaires Spanish and Medicine Program (health professionals, faculty, and medical students develop their Spanish comprehension and communication skills. They learn basic medical Spanish vocabulary, grammatical structures and general language functions in order to familiarize themselves with specific social and health system Spanish. They live with a local family in order to achieve true cultural and linguistic immersion, and participate in visits to medical centers in the city (public and private hospitals, clinics, etc). The school can coordinate a four-week internship placement in one of the city´s medical centers in such fields as cardiology, neurology, kidney specialists, respiratory diseases, general medicine, infectious diseases, and emergency medicine. www.elebaires.com.ar
Unite for Sight is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing international
medical opportunities to help restore eyesight and prevent blindness in
African, Asian, and Latin American countries. All persons over the age
of 18 are welcome to apply, including premedical students, medical students,
public health professionals, doctors, corporate professionals, nurses,
graduate students, retired professionals, and others. Short and long term
volunteer opportunities for physicians are available. Contact JStaple@uniteforsight.org
for application and details.
FSD provides summer internships with local community development organizations
in Argentina, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. The internships are usually
8 to 16 weeks in duration and include family home stay, and individual
orientation and debriefing. The programs in Latin America require interns
to have conversational knowledge of Spanish, or to register for four weeks
of language instruction prior to the start of the internship. Internship
study areas include: women's issues, environment/conservation, economic
development, human rights, and youth development, among others. Please
for more information.
An AMSA-endorsed language-learning program
This program offers participants the opportunity to study Spanish while
learning about another country's medical system. Through on-site service-learning/observation,
participants are exposed to the host country's medical practices and traditions.
Programs are offered in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile,
Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Spain. See www.amerispan.com/salud
for more information.
This program offers a unique and exciting opportunity for health students
to experience clinical work first hand in the challenging context of rural
and urban Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Teams of 10 to 14
students are accompanied by professional medical staff in addition to
resident medical staff at each clinic location. Each program begins with
two days of seminars in basic triage, tropical medicine and medical Spanish
(optional). Students are assigned to rotating assignments at area clinics
and are offered the possibility to do independent study. For more information
Deadline: July 31 of each year
This program provides training in international health to eight
or ten health professionals living in the Americas every year. Selected
participants work at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO, Washington
DC) in their chosen area of concentration and develop a work/study plan
with a mentor and the unit chief. During the period of study beginning
in late-January and ending in mid-December, participants are given a round-trip
ticket to Washington, DC as well as a stipend for basic living expenses
and moving costs. Applicants must have a master's degree in public health
or an equivalent graduate degree and a minimum of two years experience
directing programs in education or public health research. Strong communication
skills in English and Spanish are required. For more information visit
website or contact the Training Program in International Health, PAHO,
525 Twenty Third Street N.W., Washington, DC 20037-2895, Tel 202-974-3592.