Prior to the program, I had never had the opportunity to travel alone and never really got to explore healthcare in other countries even though I always had interest in global/public health. Before CFHI, I didn’t know who to ask or where to go in order to find shadowing opportunities overseas that would allow me to learn about medicine and culture. I learned about CFHI at the UC Davis Pre-Health Conference during two lecture sessions about global health (one anecdotal and one from the program on ethics) and I knew immediately that this program was what I had been looking for.
Dr. Jenny was even kind enough to exchange her contacts with me for a one on one zoom call where she talked to me and my friend for 2 hours about all our concerns post-COVID. The program even granted me the Community College Scholarship to help my family with the cost.
I learned quickly the best way to reach the staff is by email pre-departure, though information on logistics could be more readily available, sooner released, or clearer. The application and training is very straightforward.
The entire month in Puerto Escondido passed by too soon. I loved my clinic placements! The doctors, nurses, “chemicos,” and entomologist I met were all willing to teach and they are super sweet. I definitely find that you need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, ask questions, and come in with an open mind. Anything I asked was answered in detail. Clinics themselves had a limited scope of practice focused on prevention, metabolic disease, and there was a lot of visits on women’s health, mostly prenatal care and family planning. Between the clinics and Spanish class, I learned how Mexico organized their medical care in the public sector, public programs, culture, and from many conversations with medical professionals and my professor, what is working and what needs to be done. The medical staff, including Dra. Isabela the Medical Director, even helped me learn in depth about violence against women in Mexico (an issue I want to address in the future as a doctor). When when things were slow, the doctors would explain the procedures we had done and taught us to take blood pressure (of course only taking hers and a fellow CFHI student to practice).
In terms of the homestay, I was blessed to be placed with a sweet older lady who cooked bomb foods, mixing it up with traditional stewed meats to steamed veggies and rice when my roommate had gotten sick. The host sister even invited us to her birthday, took me out my first few days, and everyone made sure we got our conversations in.
This being said, the experience is what you make of it and what you put in, you get out. For me, it was everything I could ask for.