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Electives - Global Health

Costa Rica: Exploring Global Health

Elective Number: 2427 (International)

Rotation Supervisor: Drs. Amy Brown & Abigail Kumral (UVA) & Dr. Arturo Abdelnour in Cosa Rica

Duration: 4 weeks Maximum

Available: January - April

Prerequisites: At least a month prior to beginning the rotation complete the Elective requirements on the Forms page.

Report to: Dr. Arturo Abdelnour

Time to Report: 7:00 am

Place to Report: Lobby, Hospital Nacional de Ninos

Typical Day: 7:00 am - 12:00pm (hospital rotations); 2:00-5:00pm (Spanish Class)

Suggested Preparatory Reading: The Elective Pack: the medical student's guide to essential international health and development http://ucl.ac.uk/cihd/undergraduate/elective_info/elective_pack; Lonely planet Costa Rica Travel Information and Travel Guide

Attendance: Attendance at elective activities is mandatory.

  • Anyone who is ill or has a personal or family emergency must contact Student Affairs and the Attending on Service.
  • 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 Attending on Service.

Number of students per rotation: 1-2

Course Description: Course Description
This is a unique program which offers students an opportunity to participate in a long-standing exchange between UVA Children's Hospital and The Hospital Nacional de Niños in San Jose, Costa Rica. For over thirty years UVA faculty, fellows, residents, and students have participated in this program and there is a valued and well-established relationship between the two institutions. Although Costa Rica is officially a "developing country", it is a politically stable country and fairly well-developed in many areas. In particular, public policy has allowed the development of a sophisticated public medical system.
The hospital is a tertiary care center that serves children up to age thirteen. Students will be matched with an outpatient or inpatient service, depending on availability and the student's area of interest. This is an opportunity to participate in learning about delivery and practice of medicine in the cultural context of Costa Rica. Up to 2 students at one time may spend four weeks on this rotation.

Learning objectives

Learn about the healthcare delivery system of a developing country
• Objective1: Understand who is served by the Costa Rican national healthcare system
• Objective 2: Understand patterns of referral from local to regional and national care.
• Objective 3: Describe differences between US and Costa Rican healthcare. Insurance and payment; Service by physicians - private and public; Physician standard of living; Limitations of resources

Learning about preventative public health measures in a developing country.
• Objective 1: Understand and describe implementation of Costa Rica's newborn screening program
• Objective 2: Understand and describe implementation of the national vaccination and local healthcare delivery.
• Objective 3: Explore and be able to understand and describe at least one other measured public health initiative (eg. Folate supplementation, Pertussis prevention).

Learning about the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders unique to a developing country.
• Objective 1: Identify which infectious diseases are unique to Costa Rica and tropical climates.
• Objective 2: Identify disease risks for individuals of the indigenous population.

Learning about unique cultural influences on the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
• Objective 1: Understand influences of one's own culture.
• Objective 2: Know main cultural backgrounds of Costa Rica's residents.
• Objective 3: Describe several encounters with patients/parents of different cultures. Understand how one's own culture affects patient care.
• Objective 4: Deliver culturally sensitive and competent care.

Course requirements
• Complete readings; Meet with Supervisor
On site:
• Participate in all clinical and educational activities during the rotation
• Students must choose a topic to focus on (approved by Supervisor)
On return:
• Prepare case presentation
• Written evidence of completion of all goals and objectives (in clinical setting, in didactic sessions, in informal conversation, or through reading)
• Final essay on a topic of student's choosing (approved by Supervisor)
• Meet with Supervisor for debriefing


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