An amazing experience

Ratings
Overall
10
Impact: 10
Support: 10
Fun: 9
Value: 9
Safety: 9
Review

I spent 2 weeks volunteering at the FIMRC clinic in Costa Rica, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only were the staff and patients so welcoming, but they also made you feel very appreciated and wanted. I went with a group of 6, and we were pretty much the only volunteers there at the time. They had 4 stations for us to observe: Clinic, Pharmacy, Psychology, and Front desk. At the front desk, we greeted the patients and found their file our of the file cabinets. We then took their vitals (height, weight, and blood pressure) and document them on the chart for the doctor. It was really great interacting with the patients and talking with them. We also got to play with some of the kids in down time! In the pharmacy, there are all kinds of medication, sent from the FIMRC headquarters in the US. The pharmacy has sliding window that looks into the clinic so that the doctor, Natalia Fernandez (Nati), can just walk over and hand us the prescription and give some verbal instructions on what medications to bag. Going off of her instructions in the chart, we would find the medication and put them in plastic bags, writing instructions on an index card for the patients. Then we would find the patient in the waiting room, and read the instructions to them. They do this because there have been instances when the patients don't understand how to use the medication. In the clinic, we had the opportunity to shadow Nati as she performed checkups on the patients. She would lets us listen to heart and breathing sounds, as well as take blood pressure. It was especially great because she would sit us down and explain to us why the patient was in the clinic and how she made her diagnosis and treatment plan. I didn't have the chance to go on the psychology rotation because it was added relatively late. Since I was there during Christmas time, another great thing that the clinic does for the locals is hold a Christmas party on Christmas eve. They had traditional Costa Rican deserts, drinks, and piñatas! It was a great time, and all of the people seemed so happy! They also had presents for every single one of their adolescent patients. When I was there, it seemed that the clinic was a integral part of their community. The staff was so accommodating, and they all spoke relatively good English, so knowing Spanish is not required (I didn't know any Spanish). FIMRC has many approved homestay families in the area, and they were all amazing. My friend and I stayed with a couple with 2 kids, and they were all so welcoming and happy to see us. The parents didn't speak English, but the kids did. They were so kind and pretty much let us go in and out freely. They told us some pretty hilarious stories about other volunteers that they had hosted as well. The homestays are pretty close to each other so that if you go with a group of people, you'll all be pretty close. There is a decent amount of down time when you're not in the clinic, but it was a great opportunity to explore Santa Ana. Also, the driver (FIMRC approved) can drive you to many tourist attractions (San Jose, Manuel Antonio Beach, and more) for a small fee. If you're there on the weekends, there are so many day trips to choose from! Our first weekend there, we did an all day trip that started with a tour of the famous coffee plantation, a hike up/around a volcano, and a self-led trek through the waterfall gardens that also had a zoo! The second weekend, we took a trip to Manuel Antonio beach, which was just amazing. There was so much wild life around as well (monkeys and lizards). The monkeys would walk up to you and steal your stuff, so be sure to hang on to it all. Overall, this trip was simply amazing. It was an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I highly recommend it, if you have the opportunity to attend!

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed
2014