Pediatric Health (La Paz – 5 weeks)
The Pediatric Health program offers a holistic learning experience, which includes unique clinical rotations serving children and families, medical and conversational Spanish classes, and a home stay with a local family in La Paz. Students on this internship program will observe healthcare in a variety of settings. The student role is primarily to observe and learn, although some basic patient care may be part of the duties.
Students will be immersed in the region’s language and culture while participating in La Paz’s healthcare system. Although students will be working with children for the most part, they will have the opportunity to see or participate in public health work addressing other aspects of poverty as well.
Interns will live with a Bolivian family, and their time will be divided between language classes, lectures, and clinical rotations. The language school is responsible for arranging all host families and offering 60 hours of language classes. The program includes basic grammar and conversational Spanish, and Medical Spanish interviewing skills. Some classes may be taught in small groups, and others individually.
The language school also provides coordination for other activities such as salsa dancing classes, cooking classes, and tours of the city and important landmarks. Activities of this nature are not included as a part of the program fee. They may be available to arrange weekend trips for the students if there are enough interested, and are always available to give suggestions and guidance for things to do and see.
Doing More with Less- Healthcare in Remote Southern Bolivia (Tarija – 5 weeks)
CFHI’s program in Tarija, Bolivia provides students an opportunity to learn about rural and community health, and the different pathologies that are prevalent in Southern Bolivia. Interns will participate in clinical rotations at primary and secondary level clinics throughout Tarija, where they will witness treatments for pathologies not commonly seen in North America, including parasitosis, tuberculosis, and Chagas.
The state of Tarija is unique in that it offers universal health insurance for all its inhabitants. This has created an enormous demand which at times cannot be met because of the lack of healthcare personnel and equipment. Interns on this program will witness firsthand the cultural and socioeconomic barriers patients face in accessing healthcare services in this region.
While on the program, interns will participate in prevention and epidemiological programs as well as clinical rotations where they will observe the various manifestations and stages of Chagas infection, 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.
A typical rotation may include:
- Hospital Universitario San Juan De Dios
- Located in the city center and housing a variety of wards, the teaching hospital receives students from throughout Bolivia as medical interns, nursing students, radiologists, dentists, etc., in addition to specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and anesthesiology.
- This tertiary care hospital is equipped with general wards as well as an intensive neonatal care unit, in which treatment of congenital Chagas takes place. The unit serves the entire population of the Tarija region, particularly the impoverished and those with limited resources.
- Servicio Departmental de Salud (SDS – Regional Health Service)
- Overseen by the Ministry of Health and Sports, the SDS is the governing body for health standards; it is located in the city center near San Juan de Dios Hospital. The SDS houses offices for all of Bolivia’s health programs- control and prevention of Chagas, malaria, and tuberculosis as well as an extensive immunization program and laboratories for epidemiology and entomology (the latter of which breeds and analyzes vinchucas [Triatoma infestans], vector for the transmission of Chagas)
NOTE: Rotation availability depends on local conditions. All rotations are subject to change depending on local availability and general Bolivian holidays. Local coordinators will try to make alternate arrangements if a particular activity or facility is not available during the program month. Restrictions may apply for pre-clinical, and pre-medical students.
CFHI programs are not episodic volunteer experiences, and are not designed to provide service to those who would otherwise not have healthcare. The learning objectives for interns with CFHI are:
- Develop a larger sense of cultural competency
- Observe and develop existing clinical skills
- Broaden public health knowledge
- Develop creativity in problem-solving
- Deepen their commitment to service
- Promote medical supply conservation