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September 30, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

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September 30, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

As an alumni of the Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program in Ecuador, I am proud to say that my experience with CFHI was one of the most educational and inspirational of my life. From observing surgery to learning about la farmacia de la selva (the pharmacy of the jungle) with the Shuar community, every moment of every day was a learning experience. Keeping an open mind during the clinical rotations was important because one of the main objectives of the program is to observe the differences in the health care system of the host country. Additionally, practicing Spanish with patients in the clinics and with the home-stay families really gave me a sense of immersion that is essential to learning a second language. For anyone interested in learning about themselves, health care, and culture while making a difference in people's lives, the programs that CFHI offers are the opportunity you are looking for.

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The Great!

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

My outlook on my future in medicine. After this program, I have made a decision to pursue a career in medicine as soon as I have finished my undergraduate work. The program has also increased my interest in public health, with an interest in providing health care to Latino communities. Finally, I have gained an immense appreciation for people of varying cultures and recognize that as a health care provider it is important to consider these cultural differences when diagnosing and caring for patients.

Ways to make it better...

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

Increase the number of programs available as well as the number of host countries.

More feedback...

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

I learned several practical skills in the clinics such as how to calculate prescriptions for commons drugs, how to take blood pressure, and how to interview patients in a professional matter.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

September 16, 2011

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September 16, 2011

Participating as part of CFHI’s Introduction to Traditional Medicine in India was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I spent 2 weeks in the city of Dehra Dun learning about homeopathy, ayurveda and making rounds in a private hospital with Dr. Sanjay Gandhi. A week was spent in a rural village named Patti where I worked alongside of Dr. Paul in CFHI’s clinic. Two of the days in Patti were spent hiking to other villages and setting up clinics within their homes and a final day was spent learning of medicinal plants and their preparation and use. A final week was spent in the yoga capital Rishikesh where I learned about the practices of naturopathy.
Mayank Vats that is there to support every endeavor taken, whether you are traveling to the Taj Mahal or you are learning the streets of Dehra Dun. The host family really made India feel like home with hot meals and loving hearts.
Participating in CFHI’s program has had a huge impact on how I view myself as a health care professional and taught me lessons that could not have been learned without the wonderful physicians in India that support this program.

The Great!

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

my adaptation to other cultural expectations. The practices in the hospital in India was very different from the practices I have experienced in the United States. Learning to adapt quickly to support patients of all backgrounds will stick with me the rest of my life.

Ways to make it better...

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

include more hours spent in some clinics. When working with the doctors in Dehra Dun and in Rishikesh I wanted to spend more time in the clinics or lectures to learn as much as possible. I would have loved to spend at least 8 hours a day in clinic or lecture.

August 31, 2011

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August 31, 2011

My experience in CFHI was truly amazing! I completed the four week Introduction to Traditional Medicine Program centered in Dehradun, India during July 2011. The Program was split into four different week long experiences, each of which provided new and exciting opportunities. Two of the weeks were spent in Dehradun following physicians, one week was in Richikesh studying Naturopathy, and one week in the village of Patti. Richikesh is one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. It is situated on the Ganges River and is one of the holiest cities for Hindus. The participants all traveled together on the weekends and I had an opportunity to see many different sites including The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the city of Mcleod Gang (place of Tibet's Govt.), and of course the Taj Mahal. The entire staff was supportive and really eased the transition into living in northern India, which is defined a shock to your system at first. Mayank Vats, the Dehradun Program Director, is extremely helpful and fun. I can vividly remember being in his car on the way back from Richikesh listening to Jack Johnson. The CFHI program provides a very safe way to experience a beautiful culture and to feel like you are really making a difference in the world at the same time.

The Great!

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

in my life, It has dramatically expanded my view of the world.

Ways to make it better...

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

I have been involved with other similar organizations, and this one is by far the best organized and best run. There are obviously some hiccups, but, this is to be expected when you introduce twenty people to a culture much different that what they are accustomed to.

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?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

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

It greatly expanded my view of the world and the inter-connectedness of all people.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

I really ran the gambit of all emotions during my internship, but I ended being inspired.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

August 25, 2011

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August 25, 2011

The Ecuador Urban & Rural Comparative Health program was amazing with its rich exposure to the unique cities of Quito and Chone! The program provided opportunities to see the different types of health problems plaguing each community. The people and culture of Ecuador are warm and friendly; this program is highly recommended!!!

The Great!

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

the public health field.

Ways to make it better...

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

lower costs to the participants.

August 19, 2011

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August 19, 2011

I did the Rural/Urban Himalayan rotation in India and I loved every second of it. I would recommend this program to anyone! It changed my life and opened a whole new perspective on what I want to do in the medical field giving me the inspiration to do rural, underserved patient care in the States and internationally.

Here is an excerpt from my favorite experience while in India:

"Imagine a place completely removed from society. No roads. The only way to travel to the nearest village is by foot or pony. If you get hurt and need a doctor you can walk to the nearest clinic ranging from 1 to 15 kilometers. If you are lucky, you will only have to hike up one foothill in the Himalayas. There are leopards, wild elephants, and king cobras you have to constantly be on the look for. Streams to cross. Rice and corn fields to tend. This is Patti. A village located in the foothills of the Himalayas about an hour away from Dehradun. It's hard to believe a place so secluded could exist so close to the hustle and bustle of Dehradun...Tuesday is health camp day and once we hike the two hours to Batolli (the village where we are setting up our health camp), we can now do what we came to do: set up clinic. We walked into a room with two tables. One for Dr. Paul and his equipment of a barometer, otoscope, tongue depressors, thermometer, and stethoscope. He sat at the head of the table with an empty chair to the left for the patient. The second table was covered in the various ayurvedic medicine and drugs that Dr. Paul may prescribe to the incoming villagers. Virrinder and Kamla handled this table and distributed the different medicines and dressings to the patients after Dr. Paul finished his workup. In his notebook, he would write down the patient's name, diagnosis, blood pressure, temperature, and treatment in one word answers. It is simple and to the point because all individuals in India are responsible for their own medical records. The five of us students are responsible for taking the blood pressure, which is a portable barometer which is very effective. Dr. Paul sees 17 patients in the four hours we are there and hikes to this village about once a month. We see a patient with a bee sting who had a severe inflammatory response in the eye. A small boy with a hole in his rotting tooth and Dr. Paul says he had too many sweets. Next, we see a girl with a worm in her GI tract making her hungry, craving sweets, and a white rash on her body...We see Dr. Paul heal his patients while at the same time making them laugh...The atmosphere in Patti is fun, light hearted, and of course lots of laughter! They say laughter is the best medicine so I can see why Dr. Paul is so successful with his patients! ...Patti was a once in a life time opportunity and a week that left me craving for more and never wanting to leave."

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The Great!

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

Having never been exposed to the poverty, illness, and disease that I experienced in India, I learned so much about myself and found that I have a true passion for underserved and rural patient care. I learned that much of it can be prevented and I want to help treat these individuals and educate the rural communities as a future physician. Let this program change you!

Ways to make it better...

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

give an itinerary to students before they came to India so they knew where they were going to be at before they arrived. I was fine with this, but I could see others being frustrated with this aspect. Other than this, the local coordinator, Mayank, helps you along the way with any problems or questions that arise. He is a true blessing for the program!

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

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

August 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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August 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

I did the 4 week program "Urban and Rural Health" in both Quito and Chone, Ecuador. This was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. My Spanish increased tremendously from the classes and host family, I fully experienced and gained an appreciation for the healthcare system in Ecuador, and I fell in love with the Country and its people.

The Great!

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

my ability to speak Spanish back in the States, as well as my appreciation for rural healthcare

Ways to make it better...

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

I cannot think of any changes I would make. I have a wonderful time...

August 2, 2011

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August 2, 2011

My program was called Andean Health and was based in the Capital city of Quito. It gave me the fantastic opportunity to learn Spanish and understand culture. There's also a lot of support when you go from the two local coordinators. They remain open and willing to help you out in any situation and encourage you to get out and experience the culture. They try really hard to keep you safe by warning you of the right places to eat and how you can protect your stuff. I ran into absolutely no trouble because I laid relatively low and didn't carry anything valuable with me. This includes those expensive hiking backpacks. The only problem that I could've encountered during this trip was someone opened my backpack while I was walking around the city. But, since I had nothing of value, they left me completely alone. There was more than ample warning about carrying backpacks around the city.

The best part of my experience was learning about the culture. I got a lot from exploring the city and even more by spending time with my family! They taught me how to make bread, as well as ice cream. And, the way they worked as a family of 13 under one roof was absolutely amazing!!!! It gave me a greater respect for their culture and cultures in general.

I went as a nursing student. Much of the clinical experience was mainly observation, but if you got into the program that went to Chone, you got as much clinical experience as you were comfortable with! The doctors sometimes allow you to perform check-ups along side them and even quiz you! Not only did this experience teach me a lot more about the nature of medicine, but it also taught me a great deal about how life can play out. In the case of Ecuador, time is something that is very precious. A doctor can have anywhere from 3-4 patients a day to more than 20 patients all within the same time limits. So, there must always be a careful balance between giving your patient the time they need to fully explain their situation and being able to give all of your patients the help that they need. But, not only did this give me a new perspective on how things run in clinics and hospitals, but it also gave me my first real life experience within a clinical and hospital setting. It was great to see how doctors, interns, nurses, and other healthcare workers work together to achieve the common goal of helping a person to get better, as well as the interesting experience of seeing my first procedure and surgery. It really gave me the sense of not only the fragility of human life, but also the strength that one mere person can have into response to a travesty, such as the death of their unborn child, or the courage one can have in the face of pain.

My Spanish capabilities also skyrocketed! I went there with almost no spanish and by the end, I was chattering away with my family almost everyday! I think it was mostly cause I spent the majority of my time with my family.

I was amazed at all the things I got to experience in my program. It opened my eyes to a lot of things many U.S. citizens avoid and ignore here. What kind of effects poverty can have and how religion and culture can impact a person's life.

The Great!

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

my understanding with the Ecuadorian culture and the increase of my knowledge of different healthcare systems. It also greatly improved my Spanish from where it was.

Ways to make it better...

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

not really change anything. The meetings seemed as though they weren't very important, but we still had some very meaningful discussions about teenage pregnancy. Many people also wanted to focus more on medical Spanish, especially since those that had more advanced language capabilities. Our basic class, however, had a dental student teaching us English, so we got a lot more experience with the medical terms than more classes.

July 12, 2011

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July 12, 2011

my program was in Ecuador in the Urban & Rural Comparative Health program in the capital city of Quito and rural town of Chone for one month in total. What was so great about the program was that you are totally immersed in Ecuadorian culture. All the coordinators and doctors that help organize the students are local. This way you don't feel like a tourist taking a guided tour. I felt welcomed by the Ecuadorian coordinators, doctors, and the locals. I've heard doctors criticize programs that insert American doctors in foreign countries where they perform high-tech surgeries, procedures, medical treatments, etc. I was glad to see that CFHI did not take this approach. The program is purely a learning program for students who want to expand experiences and knowledge of global healthcare, especially in underserved areas. The program is structured such that medical rotations are 4hrs in the morning followed by 3-4hrs of Spanish class in the afternoon. Spanish class can be very helpful depending on your Spanish level.

During the first week I observed pediatrics in a clinic serving a poor area. We participated in a vaccination campaign and walked through a barrio in Quito knocking on doors and inquiring as to the vaccination status of children.

The second week in Quito was at the Military Hospital where I saw many different surgeries including more advanced laparoscopic procedures. I particulary enjoyed this week as I was able to follow a surgeon through clinical visits, rounds, and surgery. The military hospital is always busy with a lot going on.

The last 2 weeks were spent in rural Chone. The first thing I noticed stepping off the bus was the heat and humidity. But these things were more than made up for by the amiable host family. The hospital Davila Cordova in Chone lacks AC in many rooms but is a place with a lot to do and a lot to learn from. We spent our days in the departments of Surgery, Neonatal, Deliveries, Emergency, Pediatrics. The doctors and nurses are very nice and there is a small town environment where it seems that everyone is friendly. I scrubbed in on several surgeries and the doctors are more than willing to let you assist based on your skill level. All were willing to answer questions and talk with me. Overall Chone was a great experience. Here there were rarer diseases such as malaria and Dengue.

The CFHI experence was unforgettable. We had our weekends free to make trips and I had a great time with the other CFHI students. I highly recommend this program. The higher your medical education level and Spanish ability the more you will get out of this program, but regardless your level you will learn a lot.

The Great!

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

Urban and Rural Comparative Health program in Quito and Chone Ecuador

Ways to make it better...

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

make availible the option to spend more time in the hospital/clinic for those students who wish to have longer hours reach out to minorities and underepresented groups perhaps through scholarships.

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?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

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

have the option of spending more time in the hospitals/clinics with more specific tasks that we could do.

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

I met new friends, and it taught me a lot about surgery, emergency, and healthcare in Ecuador.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

It made me feel the need for advances in healthcare around the world.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

June 21, 2011
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June 21, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

In April 2011, I participated in the four week program, entitled, “Doing More with Less, Healthcare in Remote Southern Bolivia,” specifically in the small and beautiful city of Tarija. The program exists through Child Family Health International, a leading nongovernmental organization which places health sciences students in global health education and community service programs in five different countries. Students participate in clinical rotations at general public health clinics throughout Tarija. The state of Tarija is unique in that it offers universal health insurance for all its inhabitants. In turn, this has created an enormous demand upon the health care system in the region which, sometimes, cannot be met because of the lack of health care personnel, monetary funds, and equipment. As students, we witnessed firsthand the difficulties many Bolivians have in accessing health care services in this region. In the recent decade or so, training opportunities for health care personnel in Bolivia have expanded dramatically with the founding of more private universities. The number of graduate level programs in medicine, nursing, and dentistry have doubled and there are larger numbers of providers available to serve the population. Within the past twenty years, the government of Bolivia has responded to the country’s dire health situation by passing several acts which allow local and regional governments to formulate social and economic development plans for health actions while funding would come from the national budget. In 1998, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare designed the Bolivian Health System as a universal access system based on primary care and embracing gender and intercultural approaches. In Bolivia, current priorities include providing basic health care to more women and children, expanding immunizations, and dealing with the problems of diarrhea and tuberculosis which are leading causes of death amongst children. For the first two weeks of the rotation, we primarily worked in Villa Avaroa, a center for general public health facility located within the immediate outskirts of Tarija. Many of the women and children hailed from nearby rural communities and underserved areas of Tarija. It was pretty evident that much of the patient population comprised of the lower socio-economic groups of Tarija. The second half of the rotation involved primarily working in the Hospital of San Lorenzo, which is a smaller town or “pueblo” located approximately thirty minutes from Tarija. This hospital also served the locally underserved area of San Lorenzo and surrounding communities. We worked in the general public health care system which is funded by the government of Bolivia. Resources are limited. There is a well-developed system of free vaccinations for infants and children, but families have to seek these services. In both of the facilities, free vaccinations were offered for women and children. A high emphasis was placed on nutrition and many prescriptions were offered to patients for nutritional supplements and vitamin supplements. Nutritionists and nurses explained the significance of these supplements and value of a balanced diet and nutrition to the patients and their families. We observed these sessions and assisted in administration of the prescriptions as well as in nutritional education. The lack of sanitation and hygiene were prevalent among patients and their families as was evident by their clothes and body odor. We saw several infants and children with advanced dental caries and infections due to lack of basic dental hygiene. Many patients came from impoverished backgrounds and living conditions. Transportation from the rural countryside to larger cities for health care can be an issue for many residents of the “el campo” (the countryside). Residents of nearby countryside communities often make several trips to health care facilities in a given year, but those in the further rural areas cannot make it. There are small health care teams that will make monthly trips to various rural communities for the rendering of basic health care services. We participated in two of these trips to different communities in the rural areas, and it was a very unique to have this experience and I definitely learned a lot. These rural communities are quite far by driving distance and the team of health care providers included the physician, a nurse, the driver, and the medical students. I remember one day in which we saw seven children from one family, ages 14 to 3. They all had pediculosis and were suffering from the common cold. They lived in huddled conditions in a small, two room house in the hills of the countryside with an outhouse for a bathroom and very limited access to any city resources. NGOs and the churches play a significant role in health care delivery. While in Tarija, we had the opportunity to attend a large public health fair with booths from various dimensions of the health care system. There were representatives from public health programs involved with the prevention of infectious diseases (such as Chagas disease, TB, rabies, malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, etc), local schools, programs for the control of diabetes, herbal and traditional medicine groups, exercise and yoga groups, reproductive health and birth control education groups, programs for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, lactation groups, and many more. There were hundreds of people who attended the fair, from local students from colleges and high schools, health care professionals, military personnel, the general public, etc. The fair catered well to the needs of an entire community and was very well-organized with educational booths, demonstrations, posters, and speakers. I learned a lot and the well-designed and artistic, creative posters were very effective ways of communicating important points about the different health conditions and concerns that are prevalent in Southern Bolivian society. I also learned about the 24 hour “enfermeria” centers located sporadically in different parts of the cities, and these function as 24 hour “emergency rooms” staffed by nurses and provide basic services for immediate need ailments.
In Tarija and in other areas of Bolivia, much of specialty and sub-specialty medicine services rely upon the private sector, which cater mostly to the middle and upper classes. Larger numbers of lower socioeconomic groups seek specialty care in the secondary and tertiary level public health facilities. For this reason, there is an advantage to having a universal health care access system, one which provides basic services to all. The access, though, may not be as easy as access in the private sector. We also learned in depth about the different clinical pathologies that are prevalent in Southern Bolivia, such as Chagas disease, tuberculosis, and parasitosis. In the first two weeks of the program, there was a strong focus on Chagas disease, an infectious disease that is a major cause of death and disability in South America. We participated in prevention and epidemiological programs as well as clinical rotations where we observed the various manifestations and stages of Chagas infection. Bolivia, in the heart of South America, is home to the most indigenous population in the region and is the poorest country in South America. Proper nutrition is a huge problem in Bolivia and approximately a quarter of the country suffers from malnutrition. Statistics indicate that only about 20 percent of the rural populations have access to proper sanitation and safe drinking water. Bolivians living in rural areas lack proper sanitation and health services, rendering many helpless against potent diseases like malaria and Chagas disease. Major infectious diseases with high degrees of risk in the area include foodborne or waterborne diseases such as bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever; vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever; and water-contact diseases such as leptospirosis. While delivering health care in the rural areas, we also saw many patient cases of parasitic diseases such as giardiasis, ascariasis, and strongyloidiasis. I will have to admit that there are some challenges to working in a foreign country, including an initial lack of understanding how the health care system works. Along with the language barriers at times, there is also, sometimes, a sense of frustration because one wants to do more to directly help the patients and their families, but there are so many obstacles due to economic and social reasons. There is only so much the health care providers in the public sector can do for their patients, and this was evident from what the physicians told us too. They had limited resources in hand to directly aid the patients. Through conversing with the physicians and nurses, we learned that things are not easy for them as they get paid minimally and jobs are not widely abundant for health care providers. Some were also caught up in very busy days with a constant stream of patients and only so much in terms of the amounts of medications they could provide because even pharmaceutical supplies are limited within the public sector. All in all, I learned a lot about the conditions of health care for the vast majority of people in Bolivia. Many people cannot afford to render the services of private practitioners and have to seek health care in the general public health system. The good thing about the universal health care system is that all individuals are able to access at least some form of basic health care, which is better than no access at all. I also learned a lot about the many prevalent health conditions in the area ranging from mosquito-borne infectious diseases, parasitoses, rabies, and heart conditions to uterine cancers, chronic manifestations of different diseases, and hepatitis. Along with developing my Spanish language skills and learning many new words and phrases in Spanish, I learned a lot through my cultural immersion experience in Bolivia through experiencing the customs, traditions, and food of the country. Staying with a host family also enlightened my rich learning experience in Tarija. I was able to ask them a lot of questions, and I learned a lot through conversing with them and with others throughout my stay in Bolivia.

The Great!

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

Throughout my rotation, I learned a lot and I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges of health care for the underserved in Southern Bolivia. It was a fascinating and unique learning experience. This rotation integrated well the concepts of health care and community service.

Ways to make it better...

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

I have given them feedback on minimal areas of improvement. For the most part, the organization is great and does a wonderful job of arranging rotations for students.

June 11, 2011

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June 11, 2011

I participated in the CFHI Reproductive Health program in Quito, Ecuador for 4 weeks during the month of May. Ecuador is a developing country in South America endemic to many tropical diseases rarely seen in the United States including Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Dengue Fever. The hospitals and clinics in this unique setting provided a rare glimpse into a healthcare system completely different from those of Northern America.

During my time in Quito I had the opportunity to rotate in three different hospitals/clinics. My favorite hospital was Maternidad Isidro Ayora, a public hospital for pregnant women and their babies. It was both interesting and devastating to witness the number of teenage pregnancies in this hospital, some as young as 13. I had the opportunity to shadow physicians for a wide range of obstetrics and gynecology visits including pelvic exams, ultrasounds, vaginal and cesarian section births, and well baby exams.

The most interesting rotation was in a traditional medicine clinic for the indigenous population called Jambi Huasi. I was able to follow one of the medicine women at the clinic for a diagnostico mediante el cuy in which a guinea pig or cuy is used as a diagnostic tool. The entire therapy is performed in Quichua as the healer rubs a guinea pig on the patient and then guts it to examine its anatomy. This was the most unique clinic in which I rotated in Ecuador and I enjoyed learning about traditional alternative therapies.

In addition to clinical rotations and spanish lessons I had multiple opportunities to travel and see the local culture. My experiences on these trips range from zip-lining in the rain forest to attending a La Liga soccer match to snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. The CFHI local coordinator for my program was extremely helpful in arranging these trips.

This experience has reinforced my desire to travel and work in underserved communities in both the United States and internationally as a physician. I will never take for granted the abundant resources of North America after seeing doctors draw blood from patients without wearing gloves and labor and delivery rooms that are so overcrowded with patients that the families of the pregnant women are not allowed in to witness the birth of their children and grandchildren. This has truly been a life-altering experience for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in international health care.

CFHI was organized and well-run. My medical and local coordinators were there for all of my questions/concerns. Highly recommended

The Great!

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

furthering my understanding of health care systems in under-served communities and my desire to travel and work internationally as a physician.

Ways to make it better...

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

lower costs and/or provide more scholarship awards to make the program more affordable and accessible to students.

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