I had an amazing two weeks there and would recommend this experience to anyone who is unsure if they are ready to go to medical school. The doctors that you shadow are very informative and do their best that each student gets to see various procedures in the hospital as well as targeting each area of interest. A couple things they could improve on is having an itinerary of what the two weeks will look like, sending price lists of various activities that you can do in the afternoon and having the La Romana staff contact students prior to arrival instead of at arrival. Other than that, the hands-on experience is something that is crucial in medicine and the ability to ask the doctors about each step is something that I loved most about the program.
What would you improve about this program?
Communication about costs and sending an itinerary.
Yes, I recommend this program
A life changing experience
Oct 21, 2019
This trip was an experience of a life time and one I wish I could relive everyday. It was my first time truly travelling alone, but the people you meet as well as the amazing staff at the house become a second family instantly. The hospital, Dr Dario Contreras is a place I will never forget. I was assigned to Neurosurgery with Dr Vasquez and Dr Carreras and they made our assigned group feel so welcome and always made sure we understood what was going on and if we had any questions at all. We were invited to as many surgeries as possible, and standing in the OR watching so many amazing procedures is such a privilege and one I treasured everyday there, as it is something that simply doesn’t happen at my age. We accompanied the doctors on patient rounds and consultations getting an immense learning platform for their field and the medical field in general.
This program is one I suggest to anyone wanting a career in healthcare at any level. Once you go you will never want to leave.
What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The one thing that fully makes the trip is being at the hospital but what makes it even more memorable is what you do on your free time. Planning excursions and site seeing adventures with your group are a must do activity. It is a step out of your comfort zone for sure but it is how you truly get to appreciate the country you’re visiting and the people you are meeting. Step outside that comfort zone and you won’t be sorry!
A Saturday day trip out to one of the stunning islands.
ATVing one afternoon with the group - great memories!
All of us outside the beloved Dr Dario Contreras Hospital
After hearing about it through a friend, I researched the program and was inspired by how they set up their program and how personal and up-close their hospital experiences are. I also loved the idea of staying at the program’s house, living more local to get to experience the incredible culture. They kept everything super simple on their website and answered the main questions making the opportunity almost impossible to pass up.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
They assisted me with almost all things related to the trip. I was provided with a contact person at their main office who I could email with any questions, but who also sent me helpful emails at different stages of the pre-trip process. Things like packing lists, house and local information for where I’d be traveling as well as the more important travel document information. This made the whole process that much more easy and stress-free.
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What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Definitely take advantage of the excursions as they add so much more to the overall experience. Obviously, the hospital shadowing will take priority but there’s a significant amount of free time that is great to plan trips to go see the national sites and have a great time with the group of people you are with. While these activities are planned while you’re there, I’d say just keep in mind that there is so much to do and not to be scared to step out of that comfort zone of yours - you won’t regret it one bit!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day involves a bit of an early start.
Breakfast would be served at 6:50 am (which was always so delicious!). The bus to the hospital left the house at 7:20 am and got us to the hospital around 8. We’d then go and change into our scrubs and lab coat and disperse into our smaller groups in which we would then accompany our residents for the day. This would involve patient rounds and consults and of course surgeries. These surgeries meant you would fully scrub in and join the doctors in the OR observing whatever procedure they were doing- this was my favourite part of the whole day!
Around 1 pm, we would leave the hospital and head back to the house for lunch. The afternoons were then free time to head to the beach or plan activities, whatever you wanted to do. We would all meet back around 6:30 pm for dinner and group time.
A great way to round off the day.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I felt more comfortable knowing I was joining a group in the Dominican Republic, so that didn’t worry me. My biggest fear was the traveling aspect, especially on the way there. I made sure I did everything on my end that I could to make sure connecting flights went as smoothly as possible but that was my biggest concern was arriving on time especially with all the luggage I started out with.
This was a great experience to have especially as a young traveler as it taught me that at some point the travel will be out of your hands, and sometimes things go wrong but as long as you’ve done what you can on your end, things definitely go a lot smoother.
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
While I could write and write about all the great stories and memories from the trip - the best one by far has to be the first day at the hospital.
We’d arrived and changed and were waiting to meet our doctors that we’d be shadowing. We were all still slightly asleep from the travel the day before and one by one the doctors arrived and collected their group until there was only our group left. Turns out our doctors were already in surgery, so on our first day, our group immediately scrubbed in and walking straight into the operating room where a full-on brain surgery was being performed. It was surreal, we hadn’t even been there for half an hour and already I’d seen a living brain being operated on. For someone who’s so interested in medicine, especially surgery it was a moment where time stood still for a minute and I fully couldn’t take in what I was seeing.
We saw our fair share of surgeries during our visit but that first day will always be the most significant and memorable.