Global Health Experiential Education in Mexico

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Become immersed in rich Oaxacan culture by living with local families and observing how local healthcare professionals are addressing the challenges of literacy, sanitation, unemployment, and access to healthcare. Join CFHI’s immersion programs to understand the relationship between socioeconomic status and health access, as the state of Oaxaca trails behind the rest of Mexico in its health and economic indicators. Partake in the following programs:

Intensive beginner Spanish and Healthcare in Mexico
Women’s Reproductive Health, Mexico
Realities of Health Access and Inequities
Tropical Medicine and Community-based Care on the Coast of Mexico

CFHI participants may organize weekend trips to nearby destinations such the Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán. In the city of Oaxaca, participants may also shop, explore museums and art galleries, or hang out with locals in the vibrant Zócalo or main plaza.

  • In addition to learning about tropical diseases, students will be assisting doctors in diagnosing and treating diabetes in communities that often lack the necessary resources to handle the disease on their own.
  • Students may also get the chance to participate in Malaria Brigades, a common health initiative for malaria control.
  • CFHI's rotations are designed to offer you clinical and observational experiences relevant to your level of medical education.
  • This program is open to those who possess: * Conversant Spanish * Fluent Spanish * For those who are not completely confident with their language skills before participation in this program, we strongly recommend that you arrive at your program site
  • Clinical rotations Monday-Friday, working with a local physician who has opted to participate in CFHI as a teaching preceptor.

Questions & Answers


based on 3 reviews
  • Growth 9
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 8.3
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 9.3
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Integrity, Personal, and Meaningful!!

I came across CFHI as a pre-med student - I wasn't sure what branch of medicine I wanted to study. All I knew was that I was interested in traditional medicine and women's health, and that I liked traveling. I approached their table at a pre-health conference and was insistently drawn into a rich conversation with them. My eyes were immediately opened by CFHI who taught me what global health entails, such as the social determinants of health and the importance of approaching a trip as a learner and observer of the local culture. Being aware of cultural boundaries. Responsible and ethical partnerships. After doing my research, I realized that these values were not common in other abroad programs. I decided that a trip with CFHI would lead to my personal, academic, and professional development and signed up.

Besides the obvious integrity of CFHI, what drew me to CFHI and continues to impress me is the genuine personal attention and sincere compassion towards their students. CFHI is a small organization, and it shows in their student interactions and intimate communication. I felt completely supported throughout the entire process. They want to help their students and make it easy. They encouraged me to apply for a scholarship, with fully funded my trip. The application process was straightforward, as it should be.

CFHI is furthermore unique among other "study/volunteer/work abroad" organizations because of its individual focus. Rather than joining a trip 'slot', you decide where you want to go, what focus you want to have, what specific clinics you want to shadow at, when you want to embark, and for how long. It is totally catered to make it worthwhile for the student, while also assuring the highest quality ethical partnerships with locals. Each day consists of a medical aspect and a cultural aspect, reinforcing the idea that health is more than just the doctor-patient dynamic.

My 6 week trip in Oaxaca, Mexico focused on Women and Maternal Medicine, Midwifery, Indigenous Medicine transformed me, and now I am pursuing to be an OB-GYN, a profession I never would have chosen if it weren't for the eye-opening perspectives I got from my CFHI trip. And for that I am forever grateful. Thanks CFHI for all the opportunities and integrity you are putting into the world.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Tropical Medicine in Puerto Escondido

My time in Puerto Escondido on the Tropical Medicine and Community-Based Health programme was an invaluable professional development opportunity. I have the chance to discuss with the local doctors on topics ranging from the political instability which resulted in hospital strikes, to an overview of the fragmented health system to how the vector control programmes worked within the region. Through being part of Oasis Surf & Spanish, I learnt how to surf and had lots of opportunity to improve my Spanish through living with a host family and taking medical Spanish lessons.

How can this program be improved?
It took a while to get used to the change in pace of life - last minute planning and disorganisation is daily life in Puerto. I think slightly more direction for the local Medical Director and increased communication over what the programme would look like and being available for concerns would have made me feel more secure in my programme.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Global Health Project in Puerto Escondido

My time in Puerto Escondido, Mexico was nothing short of extraordinary. Upon arrival, I was greeted with warm smiles and open arms. While I had done quite a bit of traveling prior to this experience, this was my first time traveling truly alone and with a more career-oriented goal. That being said, I was very nervous and I apprehensive about how my experience would be.

Luckily, my apprehension soon dissipated after my arrival. In my short time in Puerto, not only did I work on my project regarding childhood obesity in Mexico and learn an incredible amount about the Mexican healthcare system, I also was given many unique opportunities to learn about the culture and the people of Puerto. Being associated with the Oasis Surf and Language school allowed me to meet a ton of new people and have access to many amazing activities. To name a few, during my three weeks I was able to learn how to surf, freshen up on my Spanish, go to the local market, eat amazing local cuisine, release baby sea turtles on the beach, visit two different midwifes, learn how to cook typical Mexican meals from my host mom, watch movies on the beach, visit a wildlife refuge, hike along some ancient trails, and listen to the stories of some amazing local people.

Every day I would go to a local clinic and work on discovering and reducing health disparities that I found to be present in the population, and every evening I would sit on the beach and watch the sun disappear below the rolling ocean waves. It was truly a setting and an experience that made me reflect and realize how lucky I am and how badly I want to improve the health and well-being of others in populations around the globe. I am so lucky to have had the chance to experience all that I did with my short time in this coastal town of Oaxaca, and I would not have had such a chance if it weren't for CFHI! I definitely recommend this program and this organization to anyone who is looking to experience something new and life changing in the realm of healthcare.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing for me that could have improved the experience deals with the language barrier I experienced. While I had previously taken Spanish courses and also took some classes while I was in Puerto, I found that I did not pick the language back up as quickly as I would have hoped. That being said, in my first week's clinical rotation I found that I was unable to speak with any of the staff besides the doctor. Although I tried to speak in Spanish, their inability to understand any English left me feeling inadequate and frustrated that I could not learn more from them and ask them the questions I wanted to. Luckily, after the first week, I was paired up with a student that spoke both English and Spanish fluently. She acted as my translator and this allowed me to learn a lot more during my time in Puerto. With that, my one suggestion would be to have the option of having a translator available to students who are uncomfortable with the language and need some extra help, even if it would just be available for a small portion of the time.
Yes, I recommend this program

About Child Family Health International

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...