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July 6, 2012

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July 6, 2012

I recently went to La Paz, Bolivia with Child Family Health International for their Pediatric and Adolescent Program. The program allowed me to learn about the healthcare system in a developing country. Unfortunately, during my month stay there, the physicians were having their first strike ever in Bolivian history. The physicians were striking against the government for the lack of resources in the hospitals and the recent increase in daily work hours without an increase in pay. The media called the physicians “lazy” and the community members followed the media. Even with protests from the community, the physicians continued to stand up for their beliefs and marched everyday. The police would line the streets in front of hospitals and clinics to control the demonstrations and crowds. I soon learned that striking was common throughout the entire work force of Bolivia. From public transportation to sex workers, different groups protested everyday.

While clinical settings were limited due to the physician strike, I was able to rotate through 3 different hospitals with the 4 other students from the United States. We as students were welcomed by the physicians and residents at each facility. One was the main public pediatric hospital of La Paz, one a brand new private hospital, and the other a small public hospital in a poor neighboring city. Both public hospitals lacked many resources and the poorer hospital was overcrowded. This program allowed me to learn how physicians dealt with health without resources and about Bolivia’s health insurance and coverage.

The other students and I were able to enhance our Spanish not only through the clinical setting, but through our daily Spanish classes. Living with a host family also helped my conversational skills. The host family was extremely welcoming and kind, and the son spoke fluent English. On the weekends, we were able to explore the city and even travel throughout the country. Going to a different country to experience health care first hand and living with a local family is a unique opportunity that I am extremely fortunate to have experienced!

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Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

June 27, 2012

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June 27, 2012

For the past two months, I have been traveling with CFHI (Child Family Health International) on the Maternal and Child Health Program in Pune, India. Child Family Health International is a small non-profit organization that provides the means to be globally immersed in the healthcare system of a culture. CFHI provides students with the necessary tools to go and learn about global health in a local setting. Even with the vast language barrier in India, I was able to learn much about the culture, the people, and the way their healthcare system is arranged as well as many clinical applications of diseases I may never encounter again! The program coordinators in Pune give us a good mix of clinical hours and local sight-seeing so we have a diverse experience. This experience has shaped who I am going to be as a healthcare worker in a global setting and has also shown me the path in the healthcare field that I wish to take. I recommend CFHI to anyone who is looking for global healthcare immersion!

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Deciding what path I wanted to take in the healthcare field.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More personal contact with the program coordinators both in the US and abroad before leaving for the program.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

That the local coordinators in Pune were more sensitive to American culture.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Yes! I met many new friends and learned a lot about diseases that I wouldn't have had a chance to experience if I hadn't gone to a foreign country.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

It made me feel like I can do something and make a difference.

June 8, 2012

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1 previous review
April 3, 2011

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a small, nonprofit organization that invites students to explore healthcare systems of differing countries at the grassroots level. You can find yourself in... more

June 8, 2012

This past March, I traveled to the southwest coast of India (Trivandrum, Kerala, India) for four eventful weeks to take part in CFHI’s new and unique program, “Palliative Care in Southern India”. As someone experiencing India for the first time, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with a flurry of new things: new sights, smells and sounds. Magic and wonder are paramount in India, but equally so it is laden with misfortune and sorrow. This program provided the right amount of exposure to help me develop a broad understanding of Indian culture and its place within the healthcare system.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I learned something new everyday! Even though India is incredibly diverse and full of paradoxes, I came to know a small amount about life in the south. In addition to learning about palliative care within the Indian healthcare system, I learned new ways to practice simple, quality medicine, means of coping during difficult and emotionally heavy situations, how to maneuver in a heavily populated society and how to conduct myself appropriately in a culture very different to my own.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

As with anything, the smart approach is to say that there is always room for improvement. However, knowing CFHI well enough, I can say with confidence that nothing monumental comes to mind as needing to be changed. I think CFHI programs are well designed, giving students a happy balance between autonomy, structure and support. I also feel that they are well rounded, offering a wide array of opportunities for students to further their medical and public health goals.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I am proud to say that this program is my second with CFHI in two years, and I can happily say that yet again, I have been fulfilled in more ways than I could have imagined. Personally and professionally. It never ceases to amaze me that what often tends to happen with global health immersion programs is that almost always you gain much more than what was originally expected and the learning experience is by no means confined to healthcare.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

A great mix of emotions! Challenged. Adventurous. Humble. Peaceful. Excited. Grateful. Just to name a few.

April 3, 2011

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a small, nonprofit organization that invites students to explore healthcare systems of differing countries at the grassroots level. You can find yourself in India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and South Africa! I traveled to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico with CFHI and was so moved by my experience that I am soon returning for the third time this year!

CFHI provided me with the tools to gain a thorough understanding of the culture and the healthcare needs of the people of Oaxaca. This was achieved by staying with a local family, attending Spanish class with a local teacher each day, and traveling to various medical clinics to better understand rural and urban medical practices and the structure of Mexico's healthcare system. Throughout my stay in Puerto Escondido, I felt culturally tested and challenged, in a way that could only benefit an individual being offered new perspectives on healthcare, culture and life and opening up their mind to the world at large. I witnessed cases where a lack of access to better medical care was continuously the underlying problem, visited families living in scarce, unsanitary conditions in the smaller, rural communities and was exposed to differing norms and practices in healthcare and within Mexican culture that shared similarities with my own, while simultaneously posing great differences. I learned a great deal from local doctors and nurses, by spending time in the clinics with them on a daily basis and seeing firsthand how culture and economic factors play into the healthcare system and effect their experience as medical providers as well as the patients' experience. With the right attitude you can accomplish so much through CFHI's programs. I was able to maximize my time in the clinics by being proactive and asking to observe additional surgeries and taking the time to build relationships with the doctors and nurses. My schedule offered the perfect balance between work, study and having time to explore the community.

Without question my experience with CFHI has become a stepping-stone for my future goals in global health and has motivated me to begin playing an active role in the field. My time spent in Oaxaca has become a part of who I am and what I continue to pursue today. I am extremely grateful for initiating my global health experience with a knowledgeable, culturally aware, hard working, and kind-hearted organization such as CFHI.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My initial experience in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico with CFHI has motivated me to learn more in depth about the healthcare system in Mexico and how the structure of the system affects the medical professionals working there and the patients they treat. I'm driven not only to be a student of medicine, but to also be a student of public health seeking to work abroad in a variety of different healthcare settings. Overall, it was an extremely beneficial and transformational experience for me!

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I think the organization is doing a great job and will continue to support them.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

May 13, 2012

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May 13, 2012

I volunteered in Cape Town, South Africa with the healthcare challenges program. I had an amazing four weeks and actually did not want to come home. First of all Cape Town is a great city to be in and has such stark contrasts that you see not only in the hospital but daily. Second, CFHI was a great group to volunteer with. Everything was very organized from the pickups to the local coordinators, Avril and Marion. The hospital we volunteered at serviced the townships so the patient population had many cases of TB, HIV/AID's and violence such as stabbed hearts. My homestay family was amazing and I actually enjoyed spending most of my time with them rather than various tourist activites.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

May 8, 2012

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May 8, 2012

When I decided to travel abroad to expand my cultural competency and medical experience, I was very apprehensive about traveling to Latin America. With my limited, OK zero, Spanish education, I was worried I would not be able to fully participate in the culture and clinical rotations. However, after my first two weeks in the Intensive Immersion Program offered in Quito, I feel exponentially more prepared to take advantage of my upcoming clinical experiences. After taking 32 hours of Spanish classes in my first week, I was able to participate more and more in dinner discussions each day. I was also able to haggle pretty effectively at the indigenous market on our trip to Otavala during my first weekend. The classes (my teacher Juan Carlos is AMAZING by the way) focused not only on learning the language, but also on medically specific Spanish and cultural differences to expect in clinic.
In my second week, I volunteered in a local high school. The staff and students and Humbold were very helpful and welcoming, although I did receive some well deserved jeers when the butchering of my Spanish go atrocious. Being forced to communicate only in Spanish without the crutch of an English speaker in many of the classes greatly expedited the recall of my previous Spanish lessons, especially when I tried to teach a physics class. Additionally, the opportunity to teach English classes gave me the chance to review the basic Spanish I was trying to learn. One of my favorite times was hanging out with a 13 year old practicing our pronunciations and making fun of each other’s struggles, him with the “th” sound and me with rolling my r’s. The kid was also a natural at catching an American football.
Although I do feel way more prepared for clinic that is about to start, I do think the Intensive Immersion Program is best suited for the first month of a two-month program. This way you get to spend six weeks in clinics versus a very limited two weeks in a one-month program. So far, my trip has gone better then I expected. After no previous Spanish exposure I can actually communicate, although probably equivalent to a 5 year old, and enjoy this beautiful country. Everyone has been amazing, from my host mom to my Spanish teachers, to the students I had the joy of hanging out and practicing with. I am super excited to start clinical rotations and am so happy with the program choice I made. I think it was tailor made for me.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 31, 2012

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March 31, 2012

I had the fortune of travelling to Ecuador in February 2012 in completion of a month-long program called Urban and Rural Comparative Health. Overall, the experience was incredible and I learned a lot about how the nation’s healthcare system operates. I started in Quito and was able to work in a number of Ecuador’s public institutions, including the Pediatrics ward and Obstetrics ER at a major urban hospital. Two weeks later, I traveled to Chone, a modestly sized town, in the interior of the country, though much closer to the coast. Although the way medicine was practiced was different, major themes permeated throughout the experience as a whole.
Although learning about another country’s healthcare system was both interesting and eye-opening, I also had an amazing time interacting with the other volunteers and Ecuadorians we came in contact with. The homestays in both locations were awesome and gave me all the opportunity in the world to practice my Spanish, which I hope to continue using during my medical training in the U.S. I had the chance to appreciate Ecuadorian culture by partaking in it. For instance, I was in the country during their Carnaval—corresponding to our Fat Tuesday—which is a national holiday there.
All in all, I would recommend doing this program to any health professional student who’s interested in gaining clinical experience in diverse healthcare environments, improving his or her Spanish and having truly rewarding cultural exchanges.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 27, 2012

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March 27, 2012

In February 2012 (during my fourth year in medical school), I participated in a program through Child Family Health International called “Health Care Challenges in South Africa.” The program was based in the Cape Flats area just east of the southern suburbs of Cape Town, Western Cape province. My clinical site was G.F. Jooste Hospital, which is located in the township of Manenberg. I spent the four-week period in the Casualty (Emergency) Department, where I assessed and treated adult patients (and some adolescent trauma patients). Other rotations available at Jooste include Orthopedics (OR and clinic), Infectious Diseases clinic, HIV Testing and Counseling, and Physiotherapy.

The South African health care system is also faced with major “brain drain” due to physicians and other skilled professionals leaving in droves for places like the UK, Australia, Canada, and the US where salaries (and standards of living) are substantially higher. One of the major issues I encountered at Jooste was the lack of competent nurses. Physicians and medical students, therefore, are involved in nearly every aspect of patient care from phlebotomy, starting IV drips, and imaging to transporting patients and delivering specimens to the lab. While there, I became proficient at reading EKGs, starting IVs, and performing LPs. I even learned how to diagnose disseminated TB with a bedside ultrasound (obviously a skill more useful in SA than in the US). I felt more engaged with my patients there than I ever have during medical school, simply because I was involved with every aspect of their care. I also honed my clinical exam skills, as clinicians there must rely more on clinical assessment, given the limited resources available for imaging and specialized testing.

I would recommend this rotation to anyone who wants to experience first-hand how a health care system with limited resources (both monetary and personnel) manages to provide quality healthcare to a large proportion of the population, even in the setting of a major infectious disease burden.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The Health Care Challenges in South Africa program

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

This program would be greatly improved if there were more clinical rotations/hospitals available to students. With 5 CFHI volunteers in one hospital, we sometimes found that there wasn't enough to do, especially for pre-med students who lack the clinical skills to function independently in the ER.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

The volunteer experience was incredible. I met a lot of really smart, fun people. The University of Cape Town medical students are outstanding clinically and are really friendly and helpful. I learned a lot of skills that I wouldn't otherwise learn in my US med school, because students aren't given as many opportunities to do procedures in the US.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

By the end of the experience, I felt a very deep connection with South Africa and the people who live there. I hope to return many times throughout my career and hopefully learn new things each time I go.

January 22, 2012

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January 22, 2012

For the first time in my life I spent Christmas and New Year away from my family but to be completely sincere I felt right at home. This past December I was fortunate enough to participate in CFHI's amazing Community Based Care and Tropical Medicine Program in beautiful Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. From the second I arrived my until the second I left, my host family, friends, professors, and doctors all treated me with kindness and respect. I learned a tremendous amount of information about tropical medicine such as malaria, dengue, and chaga but I also learned a lot about chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. As I shadowed the nurturing doctors around the Puerto Escondido area I would undoubtedly learn about a variety of common and uncommon patient needs. As a pre-med, I salivate over getting this kind of exposure and knowledge and being submerged in this environments created a unique and powerful experience that the internet has yet to match. You can read as many books as you want or talk to people for hours about their experiences but until you live it and make that human connection you'll never fully understand. Connecting with the humble people of Puerto and earning respect from patients and peer created an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. CFHI really outdid themselves as they have thought of everything. First, as soon as I was accepted into the program they constantly emailed me guiding me through all the requirements that I had yet to fulfill (like my own personal checklist). Not only was it simple to submit the application (as I never ran into any glitches) but the scholarship I received was really what sealed the deal for me. I'm very grateful and appreciative to have received it, without it I wouldn't have gone. They arranged for someone to pick me up from the airport to take me to my local coordinators home then to my host's house. From the time I was picked up I was shown around or shown how to get around which if you know how to take a taxi you'll be fine (and don't worry a taxi ride costs about 50 cents). Whoever I was with whether I was at home, school, clinic, or restaurant all I had to do was ask a question and I was always kindly answered or shown how things worked down their. In short, I was taken care of just like my worrisome mother wanted. A regular work day (Monday through Friday) started with breakfast with my family and a short walk to catch a taxi that was going towards my clinic site. After a full day of enriching shadowing it was back to Puerto for Spanish class (conversational and gramatical). Topics were almost always medically related to help me communicate with patients as best as possible. I grew up speaking Spanish but these classes still benefited me greatly. My professors were friendly and fun to hang with. Fun fact: my language school also doubled as a surfing academy so not only did I improve my Spanish I also picked up surfing! After Spanish class I would attend another lecture on Mexican healthcare systems and morbidity and mortality concerns. After that I would usually walk home to do my homework or study up on certain illnesses or conditions. Soon after that was dinner with the family then it was off to bed. Weekends were free for me to explore. I could go to the beach and play volleyball, soccer, swim, or simply relax with an umbrella drink. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to go dance or sing or, if your into art, their are plenty arts and crafts vendors or ancient ruins you can visit. This trip couldn't have been more well-rounded. CFHI really did their homework on this one and it's an experience that anyone can only benefit from. I'm proud to call myself a CFHI alum and I'm sure if you decide to participate in this amazing nonprofit organization you will grow as a person and student and you will undoubtedly enjoy your adventure.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

January 19, 2012

From September to December 2011, I participated in the UC Davis Quarter Abroad in Oaxaca, México program also known as the Latino/a Health Internship Program. A combination of lectures on binational health, clinical rotations and brigades work, the program was a life-changing experience! Every aspect of the program helped me better understand how the culture and language, politics, immigration, among many other things affect the health delivery system in México. To get a close view of how primary care is delivered in México, we rotated through health clinics. First-hand, I was able to see how the national politics and corruption affects the quality of care. Many of the health care providers were very sure that the government had sufficient money to provide more health facilities (to ease the overcrowding), to increase the resources, and to update their medical technology. However, because of corruption, the money sent from the federal government was not arriving in the amount that it should. As a result, many of the doctors had to be resourceful with the tools they did have. On the flip side, the doctors at the health centers were very friendly with the patients. Instead of creating a setting of "I'm the doctor" and "you're the patient," there was a very dynamic and open relationship between the two parties that allowed for a welcoming environment. At the state general hospital, there were hundreds of people waiting for care. Financially strapped, with low resources, and not enough personnel to treat all the patients, the care patients received here would not be acceptable in the U.S. Often times, it seemed like we were working in an assembly line since the patient visits were sometimes very quick and impersonal. Observing this type of care, I was able to appreciate much more the services we CAN receive in the U.S. I highlighted the word "CAN" because we have to recognize that even in the United States with our world-class medical technology and treatments, not everyone is privileged enough to access them. The poor in México, in the United States or anywhere around the world, more often than not, receive the lowest quality of care. Part of the program, we spent three weeks in the spectacularly beautiful town of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, México. Here, we completed brigades work, which included group presentations at the health centers and at the local schools (elementary, middle and high schools) on family planning, gender roles, and tropical diseases (dengue, chagas, and malaria). This experience allowed us to be creative using skits, colorful diagrams, and demonstrations to teach the locals about issues affecting their communities. In particular, I really liked working with the students; they were very happy to have us there and full of questions. Overall, my experience in Oaxaca, thanks to the work of CFHI, was extraordinarily amazing!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

January 4, 2012

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January 4, 2012

From September to December 2011, I had the privilege to participate in the UC Davis Quarter Abroad in Oaxaca, México program also known as the Latino/a Health Internship Program. During these three months, we attended lectures on bi-national health, participated in clinical rotations at the local health centers and the state general hospital, and completed brigades work on family planning, tropical diseases (malaria, dengue, chagas) and gender issues. On Mondays and Tuesdays, we attended the lectures, which were conducted by our university professor and our local medical director from Oaxaca. From Wednesday to Friday, we completed our clinical rotations, which would last from 8am-12pm. At the local health centers, we shadowed doctors while they conducted their primary care consultations. Many of the visits revolved around women and children (October was national immunization month). We also saw patients with hypertension and diabetes. One of the most nerve-racking experiences while rotating at the health centers occurred when a young, pregnant mother came-in to deliver her baby. A house employee, the young woman left her family and her small town to work in the city to help her family financially. Pregnant and without any family, the employer brought her in. However, the woman was only a few months pregnant. Although the doctors called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital because of her fragile condition, they did not arrive quickly enough and so the doctors had to deliver the baby at the clinic. Born before full term, the baby was not breathing correctly. No longer able to wait for the ambulance, one of the doctors took the baby to the hospital in the back of a truck that the clinic owned. Once the ambulance finally arrived, the mother was also sent to the hospital, but they later returned her to the clinic. This was one of the most shocking experiences because of how quickly the situation turned from a regular visit to the doctor realizing the woman was ready to give birth to delivering the baby and then not knowing if the baby had survived. White coat on and stethoscope around my neck gave me an unlimited access to primary care consultations, surgery rooms, delivery rooms, and the emergency department. Observing patient to nurse/doctor interactions helped me understand the differences that exist between countries in terms of culture and professionalism. I learned that although we may be under high stress, have limited resources, and flooded with patients, it’s important to remain calm, professional, and be empathetic to the patient’s needs. One of my favorite cultural experiences was Día de los Muertos (day of the dead), which takes place on Nov. 1st and 2nd. During this celebration, altars are created with food, flowers, photos, and other items to remember loved ones that have passed away. A tradition long held in Oaxaca, our group entered an altar and tapete contest (tapetes are colorful sand sculptures built on the ground). We decided to dedicate our altar and tapete to the town of Huatla de Jiménez and a "curandera" or shaman María Sabina, who was known for using hallucinogenic mushrooms as a form of healing/traditional medicine. Thousands of people came to see our altar and tapete at the cemetery. I really enjoyed this experience because I was able to speak to hundreds of people (locals and foreigners) and share with them the story of María Sabina. People were extremely happy to see us participating in the local festivities, and we were very honored to be part of the local traditions. After three months of living in Oaxaca and weeks spent as an observant at local health centers and the general state hospital, I feel more culturally competent to treat Latino patients and in particular, those with an indigenous background. Service to indigent communities has always been a major focus in my future career plans. I hope to use my education to provide medical care to low-income communities, immigrants, and those without health insurance or a limited public health insurance plan.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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