I had a wonderful experience with Medical Elective Network in Peru during a fourth-year elective. The program allows either full-time clinic experience, full-time Spanish classes or any mix of both that is desired. I spent my mornings from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at a local hospital and my afternoons taking Spanish classes from 3 to 7 p.m.
Students get assigned to a local hospital based on their clinic and specialty preferences. Based on my preferences for family medicine, I was assigned to a smaller local hospital for workers with insurance, where I spent most of my days in the family medicine consult clinic, with occasional days in the ER, adult medicine clinic and pediatrics clinic.
I enjoyed the diversity of setting and was even able to ride an ambulance to a larger government hospital when a patient was transferred. All the doctors enjoyed teaching, and the high volume of patients in the outpatient clinics, which was usually at least 20 per morning, was great for practicing my Spanish comprehension. The classes in the afternoon were split up into grammar lessons and medical Spanish lessons, and groups were based on your skill level in Spanish. I felt that these helped to fill in gaps in my grammar while providing me with understanding of common health issues in Peru, such as parasitic infections and anemia.
Personal time outside of the program afforded me weekends to explore different parts of the country, which also served to promote my immersion and bolstered my Spanish speaking ability.
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