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December 9, 2011
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December 9, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

In October, 2011, I had the unforgettable opportunity to participate in Child Family Health International's Reproductive Health program in Quito, Ecuador. As a fourth-year medical student, this was a great time for me to to an elective abroad. I learned about CFHI at the AAFP National Conference for Residents and Students where they gave me a free t-shirt. It wasn't until two years later, when I began to seriously consider an international rotation, that I learned about the variety of well-developed programs that they offer. I chose this program because I am interested in family and community medicine, and particularly enjoy Women's Health and Pediatrics. Reproductive Health in Quito combined my medical interests with the opportunity to improve my Spanish skills, which will be very valuable as I move forward with my career. I applied for the scholarship through CFHI, hoping that it would make funding my trip more feasible, and I am very thankful for the financial assistance. Also, if it hadn't been for the scholarship, I might not have kept as detailed journal/blog entries or taken as many photos, and I am happy to have these to share with my family and friends, and future participants.
One whole month seemed like a long time to be away when I was preparing for my trip, but the time actually flew by. We spent every morning during the week working in the clinic or hospital, and rotated to a different site each week. For the first two weeks, we attended Spanish classes at the Amazing Andes Language School all afternoon. I had only had a brief Medical Spanish course before my trip, but I studies a lot on my own and was able to place into the "intermediate" Spanish class. These classes provided lessons on grammar as well as Medical Spanish, and often focused on medical terms that were relevant to our particular clinic sites (maternity hospital, pediatric clinic). Following class, we would have some free time to run errands, or just return home to relax. We had dinner at our home-stay every night at 7. Following dinner, we were often busy with homework or studying Spanish, but we also had time to go out or stay in and talk with family and friends back home. After working all week, we had all of our weekends free to travel and take in all that Ecuador has to offer. As I stated above, I have always been interested in Family Medicine and Community Health, so it seemed natural to get involved in activities that provide services for people who are medically under-served. In Ecuador, all people have access to free healthcare, but there is a great disparity between the quality of facilities available to the wealthy and to the poor. In all of the public sites that I worked, doctors repeatedly told me that certain things weren't available, because there was no money. This was most evident in the maternity hospital, where laboring patients didn't even have sheets or pillows on their beds. Still, with limited resources, all of the doctors I worked with provided invaluable services to their patients by focusing on small ways to improve health, such as making sure vaccinations were up to date, providing education about nutrition and contraception, and promoting breast-feeding.
Looking back, I feel that this program added a vital dimension to my medical education. My school places a lot of emphasis on cultural awareness in the curriculum, but learning about different cultures in a lecture hall cannot compare with being immersed in a culture for several weeks. I feel that after this experience, I will have a better understanding of the experiences and values of my hispanic patients and hopefully will be able to make them feel comfortable. Finally, after having to navigate a foreign country, I have a newfound respect for all people who have emigrated to the US or speak English as a second language. As I move forward in my career, I would like to continue to learn and practice Spanish, so that I can communicate clearly with more patients. I would also like to incorporate international rotations to South and/or Central America into my residency training and future career so that I can continue to explore different cultures while providing much needed services. For more info about my trip, feel free to check out my blog at http://brightmedstudent.blogspot.com/.

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?

2011

November 30, 2011

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November 30, 2011

I participated in CFHI's Introduction to Traditional Medicine, India program in July 2011. This was my first experience abroad and, as would be expected, I was quite nervous before I left. Upon arrival in Delhi I, along with the other participants, were guided through every step of our journey to Dehradun. The program staff were nothing short of amazing, and it was quite evident that they were truly passionate about their jobs.

This is a program geared toward medical and pre-med students. I, however am neither; as an anthropology student I went into the program knowing little to nothing about medicine or the healthcare system. I never felt behind or out of place, and if anything I felt that the other participants and staff saw my alternate viewpoint as useful in a fuller understanding of different situations.

As I am in no way medical, as an ethical decision, I made it a point to not have physical encounters with patients. The medical/pre-med students did, however, take full advantage of such opportunities when they presented themselves.

I had a wonderful experience shadowing doctors in Dehradun for two weeks, learning about Homeopathy, Reiki, Ayurveda, Accupressure, and how western-style medicine functions in the context of India. A third week was spent in the enchanting town of Rishikesh, nestled in between the edge of the foothills of the Himalayas and the holy Ganges river. In Rishikesh we stayed in an Ashram, having daily yoga lessons and lectures on the various therapies of Naturopathy. The fourth week was spent in the rural village of Patti, secluded, deep in the foothills, from the hustle and bustle of the heavily trafficked urban center. Here we had early morning yoga with views of the sleepy sunrise against the misty valley that could your breath away. We had a more hands on approach to learning about Ayurveda and went on nature walks to find naturally growing medicinal plants.

This experience was one that I will remember always. The staff was so warm and inviting that I am still in contact with many of them to this day. I also loved it so much that I am doing the program again this June.

The Great!

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

This experience has opened my eyes to some of the realities that the rest of the world faces. I have been able to see the differences in our healthcare systems, and have been able to see the pros and cons of both. I have also been exposed to various alternative medicines that are not very well known in the United States.

Ways to make it better...

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

N/A

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

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

I learned lots about alternatives to western medicine. I also learned how to use a blood pressure cuff :) I made a number of friends while there, most of whom I still keep in touch with on a regular basis.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

awesome. and sad to come home!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

November 13, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

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November 13, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

I participated in the Rural/Urban Himalayan rotation, and worked in various settings providing medical care throughout North India. Due to the language barrier (most patients speak Hindi, Garwhali, etc.) and reliance on history for diagnosis, a large portion of my time there was spent as an active observer. Assertiveness with preceptors was my bridge across this barrier--they were eager to give synopses of what patients were saying when prompted. As time went on, my Hindi skills improved and the individuals I helped treat were quite patient with me as I attempted to obtain basic histories from them in their native tongue.

Paramount to the design of this rotation is exposure to diverse healthcare settings in both rural and urban areas. Hence, day to day activities varied based on location. However, generally our days were divided into morning & evening hospital/clinic sessions of about 3 hrs each, with lunch and afternoon tea allotted in between. This afternoon gap left time to explore the local areas. For example, in the Himalayan foothills we might go out for a hike or spend time journaling, and in the cities you can shop, stake out at an internet cafe or bookstore, or even take a Bollywood dance class!

One of my favorite facets of Indian culture is the inherent hospitality, and the networking provided through CFHI's local coordinators immediately connected us with locals. "Friends of friends" upon meeting our group for the first time would shower us with tea, snacks, and their excellent company almost universally wherever we went. When we left each town it was heartwarming to remember the shopkeeper, cab driver, chemist... all the local pillars who I had formed personal friendships with. Without the immediate networking provided by CFHI, this would not be possible to the same extent.

It was a great opportunity to work with conditions not commonly seen in the US (i.e. TB, rheumatic heart disease..) and enlightening on an intellectual level to understand how healthcare is delivered in a different culture, but the greatest lessons extended much deeper than this as my character was refined by being challenged through an unfamiliar environment & ideas.

The structure that CFHI gave was a supportive one, just enough to guide but never overwhelming. They arranged major transportation between sites, lodging, meals, etc. but never overplanned or scheduled the experience, giving us freedom to explore a bit, and flexibility to accommodate our interests. Local coordinators were always a phone call away and approached the relationship with participants more as a friend than an administrator.

I wish every medical student this opportunity, to develop cultural awareness & competence in dealing with patients from disparate backgrounds. Additionally, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Western system of providing healthcare & delivering it to the masses.

The Great!

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

extending medical care and providing supplies for residents of North India, as well as strengthening local economies and work forces. All of these functions along with orchestrating an international medical experience for students are accomplished with only 7% overhead.

Ways to make it better...

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

make things a bit more organized and efficiently run abroad. However, I much rather think this is a function of the way things are done in these particular areas of India than a reflection on CFHI.

October 31, 2011

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October 31, 2011

I recently participated in the Sight for All Opthalmology program in New Delhi, India. It truly has been an amazing experience. Not only did it strengthen my professional and personal communication skills, but I was able to gain knowledge about global health issues and how collaborative strategies can be developed to solve some of the health related problems existing in developing countries, such as India. As a pre-med student at UC Santa Cruz and an aspiring physician, this program gave me more of the right reasons to become a healthcare provider. On a daily basis, my day started around 9am and ended at 4 or 5 pm, including lunch. During these hours, I had a chance to shadow and get hands on experience from a great team of physicians. The physician on duty would show me the procedures of an eye check up and then allow me to perform the same procedures on multiple patients. I spent most of my times in the retinal, cornea, OT, and pediatrics. In the Operation theatre, i was given the opportunity to closely watch different eye surgeries being performed by physicians on duty. There was so much knowledge passed on by professionals everyday. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone wanting to gain more hands-on clinical skills and learning about a different culture. Trust me, there will be no regrets! This is one part of my life that I will always look back and smile. During the program, there are so many under-served lives you touch and in return, you begin to appreciate life in general. AMAZING!

The Great!

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

in the Sight For All Opthalmology program, CFHI

Ways to make it better...

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

I would have enjoyed the program if I were given a chance to visit other hospitals and make the difference in service.

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?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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

visiting surrounding hospitals.

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

definitely improved personal and communication skills.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

I am so glad I took the first step to send out my application to become a participant in the program.

October 27, 2011

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October 27, 2011

Hi my name is Sameer Aggarwal and I just recently graduated from the University of California Davis. I am a pre-med student who is currently applying to medical school. I wanted to take some time to inform potential participants and give my recommendation for CFHI, as my experience has truly been an amazing time that has changed my view on health care and furthered my desire to continue to participate in global health campaigns.
On a daily basis in the program, I would usually come to the hospital and shadow a physician in either the pediatric, cornea, or glaucoma clinic. From this time, you have the opportunity to prod physicians about patients’ conditions, interact with patients, and learn a variety of clinical skills in the diagnosis of disease. The physicians were all very welcoming and responsive to questions posed by participants. Usually after shadowing, we would head to the physicians lunch quarters. After eating lunch, you would either have the opportunity to spend time in a different clinic or observe surgery. Because of the opportunity to participate in different clinics, I felt the program offered great flexibility and allowed me to see different things on a day to day basis.
In addition to our time at the hospital, each week we were sent to outreach camps. At outreach camps, health care workers from the hospital were sent to remote villages to perform basic clinical care for underserved populations and identify patients with disease that could be corrected. Those that required intervention would either be given medication or taken back on a bus to the main hospital in New Delhi, India for surgical intervention. From these camps, I learned a lot about global health, lack of health care access, and a variety of clinical skills with basic instruments such as a flashlight.
The program coordinator was very helpful planning events for us throughout the country. She set up excursions to the Taj Mahal in Agra and for the participants to see a nearby historic city called Jaipur. In addition to these adventures, we received advice on a variety of tourist destinations to visit in New Delhi including Khan Market, Connaught Place, Qutab Minar, and much more. The program offered participants plenty of time and opportunity to experience these touristy sites. Furthermore, we often had the opportunity to just hang out at local shopping malls, complexes, and coffee shops.
Overall I think the experience has been rewarding and has made me more appreciative of my circumstances, given me a better understanding of the socio-economic aspects that lead to poor health, and inspired me to continue participating in global health campaigns. In addition, I have learned a great deal about India’s rich culture, history, and people. So if you are someone who wants to have an impact on others, contribute to helping provide medical services for the underserved and those internationally all while gaining essential clinical skills, I would highly recommend the CFHI program!

The Great!

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

As a program participant in the CFHI program.

Ways to make it better...

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

Although I understand that the primary focus of this program was in eye care, I wish that we had some time to spend in a general hospital so as to learn other conditions pertaining to different aspects of the body.

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?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

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

I would improve the range of hospitals that participants get to work in. The hospital we worked in was solely focused on eye care and the treatment of eye disease.

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

I learned a variety of clinical skills and gained a better understanding of the culture, people, and history. The experience also certainly has given me a new perspective on the factors that contribute to poor health, an understanding of the Indian health care system, and increased my exposure to patients from under-served backgrounds.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

This experience made me feel part of a campaign that was making a difference in people's lives, because the hospital provided almost free eye care and surgical treatment to the under-served population. Certainly without this organization, many would have to continue to live with either decreased or a complete lack of vision.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

October 23, 2011

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October 23, 2011

I participated in the Urban Rural Health Comparative program in Quito and Chone, Ecuador. I had always wanted to study abroad and learn another language. This program was for 4 weeks and it allowed me to compare both rural and urban health care systems to the health care system of the U.S. I thoroughly had a great time! The Spanish classes and living with a host family really helped me improve my Spanish speaking and listening skills. I also learned medical Spanish which was very beneficial since very few of the doctors I shadowed knew English.

I did rotations at community clinics in Quito and various hospital departments in the rural area of Chone. The rotations were 4 hours in Quito. In Chone, we were allowed to do morning and afternoon shifts (but no evening or night shifts). All of the doctors I was in contact with were nice and loved to teach. In Quito, I was at a community clinic that served the poorer population in the hills of Quito. I got a chance to see obstetrics, pediatrics, and family practice. I was there at a time when kids were coming in to get their certificate to attend school. All children had to have a physical exam and lab work done to get a certificate saying they were healthy enough for school. This was neat because it was like all school aged kids started out the school year with a clean, healthy slate. In Chone, I was at a government hospital (Davila Cordova). I rotated through in the pediatric, neonatal and delivery, surgery, emergency room, and internal medicine departments. I also got a chance to observe a doctor doing consultations after her Grand Rounds. Working in Chone was great. I got to do some physical exams on patients and discussed other naturopathic treatments with the doctors. I really like how doctors both answered and asked questions so it was learning on both sides.

Between clinic shifts and Spanish classes there was plenty of time to explore parts of the country and there is a lot to see. The local director planned for our group to go to Banos the first weekend we were there. We were able to hike and do rafting and other extreme things as a group which was fun. The following weekend I explored Quito more which is full of history. The free weekend I was in Chone, my program partner and I decided to take a trip to the coast since we were 2 hours from it. That was fun being on the Pacific Coast in another country. I would love to go back!

In all I would say that with this program it is important to remember to have an open heart and an open mind. You can make the most out of anything that comes your way, just be open to changes.

The Great!

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

I was able to get preceptorship (shadowing) hours for academic credit at my medical school. Also, because my Spanish has improved, I have been given the opportunity to help teach a Spanish nutritional class. I definitely want to continue work in public health and providing health care to underserved communities.

Ways to make it better...

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

Have students in the Urban Rural Health Comparative program shadow doctors in the hospital in Quito and the hospital in Chone.

More feedback...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

October 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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October 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

Just before embarking on the Andean Health program in Quito, Ecuador, I had finished my training as a medical assistant at my local community college. I am thankful and appreciative for this experience because it’s uncommon for students in vocational training programs to travel abroad and most do not have the financial means experience health care in a global context. Without the scholarship that I won through my community college I would not have had this opportunity.

I spent one action packed month in Quito Ecuador. I lived with a vibrant 80 year old woman, who I call my host abuela (grandmother), in a ground story flat in the north part of town. She is a retired grade school grammar teacher; I couldn’t have asked for more in terms practicing and improving my Spanish. She introduced me to local cuisine through her culinary feats which inspired me to go out into Quito and try different foods. I love the hearty meat broth soups with hominy, the tomales, and grilled plantains.

Quito is the second highest capital and I certainly felt it with loss of appetite and when I walked around the block my feet just dragged along. Quito is a beautiful city nestled in a valley that is longer than it is wide; it runs north to south. The landscape included rolling mountains and volcanoes and found it easy to orient myself to Quito since the mighty Pichincha Volcano loomed to the east. I spent my first week was spent acclimating to the altitude and learning my way around on foot, bus and taxi cab to get from and to Spanish school and my clinical rotations. I enjoyed riding bus because it was a true cultural immersion. Each bus had personalized decorations and music, street musicians hop on to play a tune then hop off and vendors sell their wares for a few stops.

I often saw the other participants in my program who became second family to me. I delighted in learning about their ambitions to become nurses or doctors; two participants were studying to become naturopathic doctors. On weekends we traveled together to Otovalo, renown its colorful market, the town of Mindo cloud forest which is known for being in the cloud forest and having mind dizzying zip lines, the town of Banos where we went white water rafting.

The clinical rotations were fantastic! I spent my first week in the outskirts of Quito at a public clinic/Centro de Salud where I shadowed a family practice doctor who saw migrant workers. I spent my second week in a maternity ward where I witnessed live births for the first time- both vaginal and caesarian. In my third week, I shadowed a pediatrician at the recuperation ward for teen mothers…In my last week; I observed surgeries at the military hospital. I found the doctors were personable approachable and allowed me to assist them when I felt ready and comfortable. I found assisting in newborn exams very memorable because I will never the the sound of the fast paced newborn heart beat.

These are the experiences are priceless to me and will be my introduction to health care and feel that it prepares me for a career in healthcare. Also, the experiences remind me that I that employers seek and I felt that my experience at CFHI gave me that advantage. I recently accepted a job with my city’s health department to work in a clinic that serves the transgendered and homeless population. I recently sat in a panel interview with hiring nurse managers from several clinics who were impressed that I did this. I had other clinics that wanted to hire me and I am thankful that my experience in Ecuador has given me a global perspective on health.

The Great!

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

Giving me valuable health care experience and a global view of health care

Ways to make it better...

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

Do more outreach in community college to diversify participants in the program

October 16, 2011

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October 16, 2011

I participated in CFHI's Child and Maternal Health program in Pune, India this past August. As a premedical student, I had the opportunity to witness countless surgeries and medical procedures such as laparascopies, caesarian sections, abortions, and basic check-ups. In addition, I rotated between 3 to 4 physicians and healthcare settings such as hospitals and private clinics in order to give me a great breadth of experiences.
One of my favorite memories by far is shadowing a primary care physician in a rural area. This physician operated a government run clinic, which means that services and prescriptions are free to patients. I was amazed as I watched him treat patient after patient, moving far faster than any American doctor I had ever seen in that span of time. As a plus, it was breathtaking to walk amongst the mountains and witness the lushness that marks monsoon season.
My experience with CFHI reinforced my decision to work with underserved populations here in America. The mission of the program underscores my belief that global interactions between countries is necessary to help the world's most vulnerable people receive affordable access to healthcare services. I would recommend this program to a pair or group of friends to also best take advantage of the weekends for exploring nearby cities in India!

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?

A lot

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?

2011

October 14, 2011

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October 14, 2011

I went to Durban, South Africa for four weeks on a program called "HIV/AIDS and Healthcare in Durban" with CFHI. Throughout the four weeks, I rotated through various healthcare sites in and around Durban, including hospitals and local clinics, and one hospice. I got to see the South African healthcare system in action from a first-hand perspective without having to participate in it, which, as I am not a medical student, I am not qualified to do anyways. Essentially, I shadowed doctors, nurses, clinic counselors, and other healthcare professionals as they did their jobs, each playing a key role in providing healthcare to patients affected by HIV. I saw everyone from infants to adults receive evaluative medical attention in a way that doesn't exist in the United States--insight which is invaluable and enriching. The program was not too stringent or overly-structured, which I appreciated as the subject matter we were dealing with on a daily basis was very heavy in itself. I definitely have gained a newly informed perspective on international healthcare for this global epidemic, which I will continue to be grateful for.

The Great!

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

Durban, South Africa

Ways to make it better...

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

Tailor it more towards my studies on the sociological aspect of healthcare and the HIV epidemic in South Africa

More feedback...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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.

Photos

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

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