Global Health Experiential Education in Ecuador

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Observe, learn, and experience Ecuador’s healthcare system first-hand through CFHI’s multiple immersion programs. You will come away with a holistic view of healthcare reform as Ecuador is undergoing one of the largest scale ups of Family Medicine in the world with an ambitious agenda to provide "Health for All." CFHI offers numerous opportunities to observe public and medical health efforts within Ecuador’s metropolitan (Quito and Guayaquil) and rural (Nanegalito and Puyo) areas:

Reproductive Health
Andean Health: Patient Care
Community Medicine: From Rainforest to Coast
Intensive Beginner Spanish and Healthcare in Ecuador
Urban and Rural Comparative Health
Sexual Health as a Human Right: Ecuador’s Unique Model
Dentistry and Oral Health

Become immersed in Ecuadorian culture and language through Spanish classes while living with local families. CFHI participants may also organize weekend trips to destinations such as ­­­­­­­Tena, Mindo, and Otovalo.

  • Community Medicine Track: What is Community Medicine? It is considered a branch of medicine that is concerned with the health of the members of a community. The emphasis in community medicine is on the early diagnosis of disease, and the prevention of dis
  • Indigenous Health Track: Participants who chose this track will have a fantastic opportunity to interact with indigenous communities and their traditional practices. Participants will gain an understanding of where traditional medicine and allopathic medi
  • * Identify and appreciate the differences between the urban and rural government institutions, including social security, faith-based healthcare services, NGOs and others. * Learn about in the challenges patients face in accessing healthcare due to ge
  • * Learn about the healthcare system in the Amazon region of Ecuador This program will focus on the community level. which consists of three levels: hospital, ambulatory, and community-based.
  • * Learn about indigenous healthcare beliefs by visiting local indigenous communities such as Shiwakocha (Kichwa), Uwijint (Shuar) and Jatari (mixed).

Questions & Answers


based on 4 reviews
  • Growth 9.8
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 1 - 4 of 4

A Truly Life-Changing Experience

Honestly, before starting my program, I had no idea what to expect. I had never traveled to South America and I was quite nervous. Before starting, communication with the United States program staff was always swift, polite and understanding. This gave me the assurance that they were an efficient program. Upon arrival, everything was just as they said it would be. Fortunately, I arrived with two other program participants (one of whom ended up being my roommate!). I was in the Intensive Beginner Spanish Program and I am glad I chose that program. After my preliminary lessons with Angel, I felt adequately prepared to be useful in the hospital setting. The weekends were also sufficient for short trips to other parts of Ecuador. Living in Quito was great but the pollution from cars was one thing I did not like at all. This is however not the fault of the program since there is nothing they could do about that. The hospital contacts we met were also very helpful and understanding since they were used to having interns. Going to Ecuador really helped me be sure that becoming a doctor was what I wanted to do with my life. It gave me the conviction I now have and it is the main experience I cited in my medical school essays. The only mistake I made with this program was not deciding to do it for longer.

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps providing the chance to observe a wider variety of surgeries. I am aware that this is slightly difficult to do because it really depends on the cases the hospital has at that point in time.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ecuador close to my Heart

I simply loved this program. I actually went with four other medical school classmates, but I appreciated that we each had such separate volunteer and clinical experiences. I'll start with the educational experiences first. I really learned a great deal from my Spanish instructor. I think learning the medical terminology in Spanish was extremely useful for the following 2wks of my program, and when I reached the clinics, I was able to at least converse in simple sentences. The volunteering experiences were unparallel. Multiple programs offer the standard experiences of helping build homes or playing with children, but in Quito, I actually felt like I was directly affecting childrens' lives in a unique way. I helped volunteer with a group that promoted safe childhood safety from domestic violence and child trafficking. To really speak to the children, we put on a play about when to say no to people and strangers.
Next, to speak of my clinical experiences: my time in the Maternidad wards, as well as the general medicine clinic, actually helped me decide to focus a career more on internal medicine than on OBGYN---a decision I had been confused about for years. Other positives of the program? The culture. the location. the weekend trips. We visited Mindo, Ecuador, a wonderful and beautiful reprieve for my friend who was suffering from altitude sickness! We participated in canopying and rafting galore. We also ate such great foods---starches, perfect soups, and great quality meats. Overall, I was very satisfied with my trip and would recommend this program to everyone.

How can this program be improved?
more opportunities to rotate with different house parents to get a better sense of different cultures within Quito

group trips
Yes, I recommend this program
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Adventure, Community, and Education in the Heart of South America

This past March I participated in CFHI's Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program, which brought me to Ecuador for the first time in my life. My experience was one of personal growth, adventure, friendship, and broadening of the mind. Our first week was spent in Quito - a large beautiful, but culturally rather bland city (coming from a snooty native San Franciscan, mind you). The intensive spanish helped refresh my spanish and prepare me for the challenge of adapting to the various dialects I would encounter throughout my trip. My time spent shadowing a doctor in the emergency clinic was full of excitement, and I left with a better understanding of the routine of admitting and examining a patient. At the end of the first week we took advantage of the days off in Baños, a cool little adventure/eco-tourism town in the cloud forest of the eastern Andes. We had a large group of students from the program in town together, so we had a blast getting to know each other while enjoying the attractions the town has to offer. The next three weeks of the program were spent in and around Puyo, a larget town of roughly 70,000 inhabitants on the western edge of the Amazon. While based there, we spent our three weeks at clinics in Pitirishca, Mera, and staying with a Shuar family 12 km into the Amazon from Pitirishca. The last week in the Amazon was an especially enlightening experience. A challenging 6 hour hike through jungle mud brought us to a beautiful and humble small village tucked alongside a winding river bend. We were immersed in a world completely alien to us, and we experienced the lifestyle of a community completely in tune with their natural environment. Gustavo, our Shuar host and guide, lead us through his world and shared with us his peoples culture and practice of natural medicine. It was an experience I will never forget, and one I will be hard pressed to replicate.

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps some of the time at the community clinics can feel long and boring, but that completely depends on the ebb and flow of the community and what kind of ailments the clinic is confronted with during your time there.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Developing Cultural Competency in Quito, Ecuador

I attended the Reproductive Health Program through CFHI for 8 weeks in Oct-November 2010. I initially chose this program because I had a strong background in Women's Health and health outreach; my career goal going into the program was to do diagnostic imaging (Radiologic Technology, Ultrasound).

My 2 month experience in Quito, Ecuador was rich in so many ways. On the daily, my favorite parts were the conversations (Spanish only) and stories shared between my host mother and I, purchasing Mote from our neighborhood food vendor (Mote is corn and potatoes= Quechua comfort food), and my rotations through the clinic or hospital assigned to me that week.

Not only did I learn a TON of Spanish at the language school provided through CFHI, but I learned how to best communicate with the locals in Quito simply by participating in the social scene. I made a few friends in the city who took me to art museums, quaint neighborhoods with hip scenes, hikes up volcanic peaks and concerts in the park. There are several artisan markets in the New and Old sections of Quito that provide local goods and crafts and offer the perfect opportunity to practice your Spanish.

The medical rotations really expanded my awareness of the education level and cultural attitudes toward reproductive health in latin america. I was allowed to interact more with patients during exams and visits the better my Spanish was, so as it improved over the weeks I was getting a whole lot more experience that enhanced my ability to be a healthcare practitioner. Currently i am a registered Radiologic Technologist, having just graduated from an x-ray tech program. The knowledge and insight I gained from immersing myself in Ecuador's health system for 2 months greatly affects how I interact with my patients here in the states, for I am more aware of cultural beliefs and customs re: health that I was ignorant to before attending this program.

I can't say the program aided me in developing hands-on techniques because I was studying diagnostic imaging, but what I took away from it was a wealth of understanding and new perspective on healthcare in a country with varied funding and social approaches to healthcare than what we have in the U.S. I highly recommend any program through CFHI because what you gain while you're there and what will stay with you as a healthcare provider cannot be quantified in monetary terms. It's worth it!

How can this program be improved?
A little more heads up from CFHI HQ on the small things to anticipate, like not bringing large bills around because most places won't have change for a $20....and better maps provided of where the language school is in relation to your homestay. I got a little turned around the first day finding my way to the school.
Yes, I recommend this program


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Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that conducts socially responsible global health service-learning programs for medical, pre-medical, nursing, PA, MPH, and other health science students. CFHI's 35+ programs in 10...