I had an incredible experience with Vida Guatemala over New Years 2015-2016. The experience I gained at clinics was great. Volunteers work in pairs, and with an interpreter, and fill out a paper chart of the rural patient's current concerns and health history. Volunteers formulate the right questions to lead to a diagnosis, which is proposed to a local physician. The physicians all did a great job of educating the student volunteers on what other questions needed to be asked, signs and symptoms to check for, and where they went in the correct or incorrect directions when diagnosing the individual. Then, the physician asks questions to formulate the true diagnosis and the patient receives free medication or a referral to another external clinic. In this program setup I was able to see 10-12 patients/families per day, and learned a ton of medical knowledge. The clinics are well run, safe, and reputable. Being conducted in isolated areas means my participation in the program brought healthcare to those towns and had a true impact. Hearing of the poverty and health disparities was a great educational experience and impacted my future medical practice and goals significantly. This program helped solidify my career choice as a physician, and as an incoming medical student I am sure this knowledge will help me and my peers be more aware of global health situations.
Trips every few days were fun, there was a beautiful lake to see (Atitlan), accommodations were nice. Everything was safe, and we received appropriate amounts of guided excursions and free time. I always felt supported by the local staff, and was well supported prior to travel to the country.