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Electives - Global Health

Remote Site Language Program (RSLP)

Elective Number: 1313 (International)

Rotation Supervisors: Dr. David Burt

Designated signer: Penny Carlisle (924-8488); pc6yj@virginia.edu

Prerequisites: Interested students may contact Drs. David Burt or Meg Keeley for more information. After a short conversation, an application form is completed. During this timeframe, students may research appropriate language schools or can pick from a list of UVA-approved schools. Once the application is complete a final interview is scheduled. Plans and logistics are then firmly established. At least a month prior to beginning the rotation complete the Elective requirements on the Forms page.

Available: All Rotations

Duration: 4 weeks minimum; 6 weeks maximum

Time to Report: TBA

Place to Report: TBA

Typical day: 8:00 am - 1:00 - 3:00 pm - flexible and dependent upon site placement, scheduled activities, etc.

Attendance: Attendance at elective activities is mandatory.

  • Anyone who is ill or has a personal or family emergency must contact Student Affairs and the Elective Director.
  • Students are allowed to take off up to 1 day per week to interview between November 1 and February 1.
    • Specific days missed must be approved by the Elective Director.

Number of students per rotation: 8-10

Course Description: Spanish language proficiency is an important skill set for US healthcare providers. Latino population groups comprise the largest US minority yet the US healthcare system, in many areas, remains severely underequipped with Spanish-fluent individuals, particularly physicians. Clearly, Spanish language skills are of value to all physicians.

However the rapid acquisition of and/or improvement of existing Spanish skills can be difficult, particularly within a standard medical school curriculum. Furthermore, it is difficult to learn Spanish in the English-only environment of most US medical schools. Intensive Spanish language immersion is a very effective and proven method for learning Spanish yet is costly and difficult to accomplish within the United States.

To address this, the Remote-Site Language Program (RSLP) has been developed to provide fourth-year medical students a carefully developed yet flexible structure designed to utilize Spanish language immersion schools located within several select Latin American countries. This remote-site language school attendance is attached to a pre-departure orientation and preparation process; this allows students to be flexible in their time of attendance and placement within a particular country, but provides for reliable standardization of preparation and follow-up.

Structural components of the RSLP are as follows:

  1. Attendance at a UVA-approved language immersion program for 4-6 weeks.
  2. Completion of all International Studies Office (ISO) and UVA School of Medicine (SOM) requirements for international travel.
  3. An emphasis on safe, respectful learning, travel and immersion within their host country.
  4. Satisfactory completion of RSLP pre-departure requirements, documentation of in-country Spanish school attendance and adequate participation in associated activities.
  5. Completion of short pre-departure and post-elective preparation and feedback sessions.
  6. Completion of pre-departure and post-elective Spanish proficiency assessments.

RSLP Preparation cycle: When the student is 3-4 months out from departure, they will commence with a flexible pre-departure curriculum that includes online Spanish lessons, etc. (On-line Spanish immersion lessons available as part of the pre-departure process). Once students have arrived in-country, they will be expected to maintain adequate contact with the elective supervisor and with their in-country site liaison. Upon return to the US, students meet with Dr. Burt for an exit interview, and will complete other minimal requirements, including a SOM required write-up. Students will also be assessed on their Spanish language progression during the program and will be asked to provide feedback on the program and their specific site.

Elective Costs: Since this is an international elective, there are additional associated costs. These include plane flight, Spanish school for 4-6 weeks, in-country logistical costs, pre-departure vaccines and pre-departure materials. Approximate costs will be discussed carefully before students are accepted into the elective, but usually cost from $1900-$2450. It is noted that costs fluctuate, are dependent on site and school chosen and are somewhat subject to change.