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Latin America and Spanish Language
Educational Opportunities in International Health
Photos: Hemal Kanzaria, Mabel Onwuka, and Mariel Solares

Bi-National Medical and Nursing Student Immersion Program in Cuernavaca, Mexico (formerly UC-Mexico Exchange Program)
Deadline: March
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. More

Latina Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico
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.

Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science
Summer Research Opportunities
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 Robertson.

Cuernavaca Language School
Medical Spanish Program

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, please visit http://www.cuernavacalanguageschool.com/

Border Health Elective with STEER (South Texas Environmental Education and Research) Program 
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 steer@uthscsa.edu.

Kukulcan Spanish for Healthcare Professionals
Cuernavaca, Mexico

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/.

International Alliance in Service and Education (IASE) Experiential Learning Programs in Mexico
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 Mexico.

Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC)
Note: MEDICC 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 dappleb@emory.edu or the Program Coordinator, Adrianne Du'sauzay adusauz@emory.edu.

Department of Family and Community Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin
Belize International Health Program
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.

Spanish Instruction and Medical Program in Guatemala Asociación Centro de Estudios de Español Pop Wuj
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/.

University of Nebraska Medical Center
Medical Spanish & International Health Course in Guatemala

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
Medical Spanish and International Medicine in Guatemala
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.

Doctors for Global Health and Asociación de Campesinos para el Desarollo Humano
Volunteer Medical Opportunity in Rural El Salvador

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 volunteer@dghonline.org.

Public Health Research at Los Chavalitos Maternal Child Health Clinic, Managua, Nicaragua
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.

International Health Central American Institute (IHCAI)
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.


Sustainable Volunteer Ecuador
Rolling Deadline
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 South America
Medical Spanish and Community Health in Ecuador

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, dwedermeyer@pol.net.

Child Family Health International
Reproductive & Women's International Health
Elective in Ecuador

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 students@cfhi.org for more information. 

Cacha Medical Spanish Institute
Riobamba, Ecuador
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.

Cinterandes Foundation
Clinical Rotations in Cuenca, Ecuador

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 website to find out more about the programs.

Escuela Runawasi in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Located in Cochabamba, a city of approximately 750,000 in central Bolivia, the Escuela Runawasi combines intensive small-group language classes with homestays in order to provide its students with a solid foundation in Spanish as well as a unique opportunity for cultural immersion. The school forms small groups of no more than three students according to the level of the participants and most classes are one-on-one. Because of this small class size, class topics are highly adaptable and can reflect the interests of the participants. Escuela Runawasi also organizes excursions throughout the country. Program dates and lengths of stay are flexible, and classes can be arranged for students of any level. For more information please visit: http://www.runawasi.org/

Medical Internship in Brazil
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 Forward Institute.

University of Buenos Aires
General Internal Medicine Program

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.

Elebaires Spanish and Medicine Program
Buenos Aires, Argentina

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. More www.elebaires.com.ar

Unite for Sight International Opportunities
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 or www.uniteforsight.org for application and details.

Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD)
Internships in Latin America

Deadline: March
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 visit www.fsdinternational.org for more information.

Summer Medical Spanish Programs in Latin America

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.

International Service Learning: Health Professions Program in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean
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 visit www.islonline.org.

Training Program in International Health of the
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)

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 the PAHO website or contact the Training Program in International Health, PAHO, 525 Twenty Third Street N.W., Washington, DC 20037-2895, Tel 202-974-3592.

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Updated: January 30, 2012
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