Annabel – Medical Student –  Otago, New Zealand (Feb, 2019

Lisha – Medical Student –  New South Wales, Australia (Feb, 2019)

James – Medical Student –  New South Wales, Australia (Feb, 2019)

Rachel – Pediatrics Resident –  Michigan, USA (Jan, 2019)

Ruslana – Internal Medicine (Attending) –  Sweden (Jan, 2019)

Nikki – Family Medicine Resident – Wako, Texas (Jan, 2019)

Karen – Family Medicine Resident – MultiCare Health (Jan, 2019)

Emma – Medical student – Oregon Health & Science University (Dec, 2018)

Kellie – PA Student – Wayne State University (Nov, 2018)

Madison – PA Student – Wayne State University (Nov, 2018)

Brian – Family Medicine Resident – Oregon (Nov, 2018)

Kirk – PA Student – Wayne State University (Nov, 2018)

Devan – Physical Therapy Student – Elon University, (May, 2018)

Colin – PA student – Wayne State University (Nov, 2018)

Liz – Ob/Gyn Resident – Indiana University (May, 2018)

Christina – Resident – Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver (April, 2018)

Amanda – Physical Therapy Student – Elon University (April, 2018)

Emily – Medical Student – Duke University (Feb, 2018)

Mark – Medical Student – Temple University (April, 2018)

Maziar – Medical student – Drexel University (April, 2018)

Neha – Ob/Gyn Resident – University of Indiana (Jan, 2018)

Ashley – Physician Assistant Student – Rutgers University (Feb, 2018)

Alexander – Medical Student – University of Sydney (Feb, 2018)

Ashley – Medical Student – University of Arizona (Jan, 2018)

Kevin – Medical Resident – University of Indiana (Jan, 2018)

Remi – Medical Student – University of New South Wales (Jan, 2018)

Anna, Graduate nurse – (Aug. 2017)

Carolina, Nutrition – University of Bastyr (Aug. 2017)

Luci – Medical Student – The university of Notre Dame, Australia (Nov, 2017)

Carleigh High, Physical Therapy Student, Elon University, Elon, NC, USA (April-May 2017)

For my “elective program” I chose to go to Medical Electives in Trujillo, Peru- it was one of the best opportunities I’ve experienced and I’m so glad I decided to go!

Kevin and his staff are so nice and really make you feel welcome in Peru! They have lots of teachers who focus on different areas of Spanish (conversation, grammar, medicine, etc.) which is great because you have an energetic teacher who is eager to help you learn in all of your classes. It was also really nice to have a variety of teaching styles in order to obtain a better grasp on Peruvian Spanish. The medical classes were very useful in teaching us not only the Spanish vocabulary, but also subtle colloquialisms in order for us to better relate to our patients. Living with a host family also allowed for the opportunity to learn phrases and vocabulary unique to Peru. My host family was also amazing and invited us to family holiday meals and gatherings, really allowing us to feel part of the family during our stay.

I was fortunate to assist in several different hospitals during my stay in Trujillo. Each one had its own unique character and it was really nice to see the multiple aspects of healthcare in Peru. I really enjoyed conversing with local staff and learning their perspective on their reasoning behind specific treatments. They even asked a classmate and I to give an in-service presentation; it was a great forum for us to share and discuss different treatment options with each other. The hospital staff were amazing and became part of my family while I was there- they are such friendly and caring people and I’m so glad I was able to meet them through Medical Electives!

Just before I arrived in Trujillo, there was major flooding to the area and local residents needed help in various ways. One of the unique aspects of Medical Electives is that they helps set up health outreach campaigns in order to truly help connect you with the people who need help the most. Due to the flooding, while I was there these campaigns focused on flood victims living in the outskirts of Trujillo. These campaigns are not part of the required program, but are a volunteer opportunity to work alongside local healthcare providers, using minimal resources, and focusing on patient education. The health outreach campaigns were humbling and rewarding experiences and I only wish there would have been more of them during my time in Trujillo.

During my free time I really enjoyed getting to know Trujillo- meeting people at the gym, conversing with local restaurant owners, relaxing on the beaches, and running around neighborhood parks. Trujillo, and all of Peru, has a fascinating history and it was incredible to be able to explore some of the nearby historical wonders including Chan Chan. I also enjoy hiking and the mountains are not too far away and offer a fantastic weekend escape from the busy city. All in all, I am thrilled I chose to spend my time with Medical Electives and hope to make it back someday soon!!

Katie, Medicine , Saint George’s, University of London UK, (June 2017)

Justine Durno, Barts & The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK, (May 2017)

I chose to carry out my elective in Peru, and with Medical Electives, as I had some knowledge of Spanish, but I wanted to further it and be able to incorporate this with medicine. Every day I had at least one hour of medical Spanish class in which I learnt how to take a history in Spanish, and practiced a lot through role-playing.

I feel that this benefited me much more than just simply observing how the healthcare systems differed between the UK and Peru, as I am now able to bring a new skill to the team when I start working as an FY1. There is always going to be a delay before interpreters can attend to patients who cannot speak English, and if Spanish is their first language then even a few simple sentences to explain what is happening to them, will put them at ease.

I know from experience of having deaf relatives in hospital, that even having just one doctor that can communicate with you in your language (in their case, British Sign Language) at a basic level makes a huge difference to one’s experience as an inpatient, in what actually can be a scary place, even to English speakers, never mind those that don’t understand the language around them.

I found the medical Spanish classes endlessly useful when it came to attending medical outreach campaigns, as it meant I didn’t have to talk through an interpreter when asking my questions, thereby making the consultation more efficient. What the campaigns also reinforced to me, was how important it was to ask red flag questions. In each consultation we were armed only with a stethoscope and our ability to perform physical examinations, so we were unable to take samples, perform scans or even make referrals. Red flag questions were a great way to eliminate serious differentials, and put me at a bit more ease that we weren’t missing anything that would necessitate specialist attention. Asking red flag questions is something that I have to keep telling myself never to forget to ask, as it will be what saves my back, as well as patients’ lives.

My trip to South America was easily the best trip of my life. Not only was I able to immerse myself in South American living by staying with a homestay family, and experience what it was like being a medical student in completely different surroundings, but my confidence also grew more than I expected. Five years of medical school has taught me a lot of interpersonal and organisational skills, whereas in Peru I overcame my fear of speaking Spanish in public and making mistakes, so I came back to the UK feeling more self-assured, and I hope to carry that on to working life.

Muchas gracias The Medical Elective Network!

Luci Boella, Warwick Medical School, UK, (April 2017)

For my elective I wanted to experience South American culture and medicine but with very rusty intermediate level Spanish I also needed some help with my Spanish which is why I chose Medical Electives. Initially when we arrived in Peru, the country was in a national state of emergency because of flooding and Trujillo was heavily affected. This could have really hampered our experience but for me it actually added to the adventure and gave us the opportunity to see first-hand how the community dealt with a natural disaster. Kevin and the medical electives team were fantastic ensuring the program ran as smoothly as possible during the floods. They also laid on extra lessons to make up for the fact that many of the local attractions were closed and even drove us around when local transport was limited!

Aside from working hard to make sure the floods affected the course as little as possible, I was incredibly impressed with the Spanish lessons ran by the Medical Electives teachers. Before studying medicine I was a secondary school teacher and trained in England which has very progressive and modern teaching methods. I was fully expecting the teaching in Peru to not match that of UK and to be old fashioned chalk and talk style lessons. However, that was not at all the case. The teachers made the lessons fun and interactive and incorporated games into the teaching to keep us entertained. They were all experienced language teachers and made the more challenging concepts both understandable and interesting to learn and I could not have been more impressed! Lessons were also very geared towards communicating in a medical environment. The medical Spanish lessons were based around role playing medical scenarios and this allowed me to take complex histories from Spanish patients in hospital by my 3rd week.

I chose to do my hospital rotation in the emergency department of the EsSalud Alto Complexidad (EsSalud High Complexity) Hospital in Trujillo. My time in the hospital really opened my eyes to the challenges of emergency medicine in a 3rd world country and how different the doctor-patient relationship is over there.

Whilst in Trujillo I stayed with Anna and her family in a lovely area of Trujillo and an easy walk from the language school. The top floor of the house is entirely dedicated to students and has its own dining area and fridge for our use. Anna is an incredible cook and fed us copious amounts of traditional Peruvian home cooked food for breakfast and lunch. She also worked hard to cater for me as a vegetarian.

Aside from the organised elective, Peru has an incredibly rich history and culture. Around Trujillo there are spectacular ancient sites to visit and I also spent a long weekend in Cajamarca – an old colonial city in the mountains. At the end of my elective I flew down to Cusco and did a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu which was truly stunning.

In short, my elective experience was everything I hoped it would be and more. The Peruvian people are, without exception, incredibly friendly and welcoming with a rich and fascinating culture. The food is amazing and the history, architecture and landscapes are truly breath-taking.

Dr. Paul Thompson – Chief of Cardiology, Hartford Hospital, Connecticut, USA (March 2017)

Kevin:  This note is to thank you and your team for a wonderful stay in Peru.  I learned a lot in my two weeks, but also learned how little I know.  The later has only made me more determined to work on my Spanish back here.

Charo, the woman I stayed with, was wonderful.  The food was spectacular.  Her extended family was fun to meet.  Please thank her again for me.   The classes and discussion were very helpful.  I appreciate the staff being flexible to accommodate me.

So, thank you for all and please pass my gratitude to your team.

Dr. Paul Thompson

Chief of Cardiology,  Hartford Hospital, Connecticut

Jenny – PA-S, Wayne State University, USA (January 2017)

Making the decision to come down to Trujillo for my elective month was a difficult decision but it was honestly one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I cannot speak highly enough of my experience.

To start off, the medical experience was very rewarding. I was in the Pediatric ER in Trujillo Regional Hospital. The doctors there were so kind and welcoming. They were very eager to speak about the differences between the medical system of Peru and the USA. They did a great job explaining things to me; it was easy to approach them with questions about virtually anything. Driving us to the hospital every day was Martin who was one of the kindest people I met in Trujillo. He spoke Spanish with us everyday giving us another facet for learning Spanish. There was never a dull car ride with him and this program is very privileged to have him as a part of it.

Next, the Spanish classes were truly a place for advancing my Spanish knowledge. Monday-Friday we had 4 hours of Spanish classes which were broken up into four 50 minute classes each with a different teacher, giving you different teaching styles. My teachers were absolutely phenomenal. Elvis, Aida, Magaly and Rocky did a great job of catering the Spanish classes to an appropriate level for me so that I felt challenged every day but not overwhelmed. I cannot say thank you enough to them for all of their work. No matter what your current Spanish level is, they will adjust to you and they also have different levels of classes where they place the students.

Next, I would like to thank the director of the program, Kevin. I read in previous reviews that he was very accommodating and helpful and he superseded all of my expectations. Any questions/problems/concerns he was more than happy to help. He was incredibly flexible and tried worked very hard to make the experience great for every student.

My home stay mom was Ana. Her home was so accommodating, I had my own bathroom and a spacious room. She made the most delicious breakfast and lunch – always making something different. Peruvian food is so natural and we ate the freshest of ingredients every day. I even took some recipes home with me for some of the best things that I ate while there. Ana was willing to help with any problems that you might come across and she always welcomed you into her home with a warm smile.

The city of Trujillo is such a beautiful city. After Spanish classes get done at 630pm, the rest of the day you have to yourself. I really enjoyed doing salsa classes at Salsa Madrid. They offer classes in the evenings and break up the classes into beginner, intermediate and advanced. This offered another opportunity to practice Spanish while having a lot of fun. The dance instructors were all so kind too and if you need extra help they will break down the steps for you. I definitely recommend trying them. If you prefer going to the gym, there is a gym that is close by as well which had very modern equipment. Also, the beach is about a 20minute taxi ride away and they offer surfing lessons for a good price too for anyone interested in that!

Another highlight of the trip was doing a medical mission trip in a poorer part of the city. It was so rewarding to be able to interact with the patients and to provide them with both medical advice and prescriptions for their problems. The people of the city were so welcoming and eager to be taught more about their medical conditions.

Overall this was a phenomenal experience, I am so glad that I spent my elective month in Peru and if presented with the opportunity again would love to come back down!

Jenny B, PA-S

Kalina – Medicine,  University College London, UK

Your elective is meant to be one of the best times of your life and my experience in Trujillo with Kevin’s medical elective programme certainly didn’t disappoint!

I had always really wanted to go to South America but was tentative about travelling alone as a young female, which was one of the main reasons that I chose Trujillo, as everything was organised for you including being met at the airport and accommodation with carefully chosen local families, which made everything feel so much safer. More than that Kevin has a brilliant team of people who run the programme, from the wonderful and entertaining Spanish teachers (who we regularly went to Zumba with after class!) to the caring and open host families, friendly Taxi drivers who took us to the hospital every day and Kevin himself, who will do everything he can to make your experience the best it can be, I felt very welcome and integrated into the local culture in Trujillo. It was also really nice to meet other medical students from all over the world too and we spent every evening going out together and travelling at weekends…

Which brings me onto the next huge reason that I chose the programme – Peru itself! It really is just such a beautiful country and from the base of Trujillo there are lots of amazing places you can travel to at weekends, especially because you can choose to do a four-day week of placements and spend long weekends travelling! Close by there are interesting archaeological sites and the surfing town of Huanchaco, whilst further away destinations involving a night bus include the beautiful mountain city of Huaraz from which you can do amazing treks, including one to Laguna 69, a turquoise indescribably blue glacier lake that I would highly recommend and also the party beach town Mancora (where you have to stay in the famous Loki hostel!). Obviously you have the opportunity to go yo Cusco as well, but I would recommend spending more time here say at the end of your elective as it’s a beautiful city and there is so much to do in that area (I cannot recommend doing the full 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu enough – probably the best thing I have ever done and also would recommend to book it with G Adventures – more expensive but so worth it!). Also worthy to add on to  the end your elective would be a trip to the Amazon jungle, Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon – there really are so many beautiful things to see in Peru.

In terms of the medical placements you can do, it is very flexible and Kevin will find something that suits you. It was challenging communicating in medical Spanish, but luckily we had Rocky, one of the doctors working with Kevin who can come and provide language support on your placement. Between practising Spanish with your host family, en route to your placement with the friendly taxi drivers and the intensive but fun afternoons of Spanish lessons, it is so rewarding to see your Spanish improve and to be able to get an insight into the Peruvian healthcare system. I would like to be a GP so one of my favourite parts was accompanying a doctor on home visits around the city, a real eye-opener!

All in all, my elective experience in Peru had it all – the lovely people, amazing vibrant country, learning a language and a good mix of travelling and medicine. I would highly recommend Kevin’s programme to anyone who wants the same things out of an elective!

Arno Photo

Arno – Medicine, Monash University, Australia – (August, 2016)

We spoke with Arno regarding his home stay experience in Trujillo.

What were expectations of the living arrangements prior to arriving to Trujillo?

To be honest, I had just come from living in Bolivia in a homestay my expectations were quite low.

Briefly describe the setup of your specific living environment.

I had a private room with a single bed. Single bathroom. Full cupboard. Clean and tidy area.

Were you physically comfortable at home?

Yes, very much so.

Did you feel safe at home?

Yes, very safe. I never had any concerns.

Were there any restrictions or lacking resources that you wished you had available to you?

Nope. Literally, everything you needed was available. Even hot showers.

How many members were there in the host family?

Two, the host mother and father. There was also the housemaid/cook at this house. She would arrive each morning and stay until afternoon. At times, their son would also visit.

Did you feel comfortable communicating with the family members?

Yes. There weren’t great expectations of us to speak great Spanish, so there was no pressure in that regard. Prior to coming, I had a month of Spanish training which really helped with basic communication. The host father knew a bit of English, also.

Were there any pets in the home? If so, how did this affect your experience, if at all?

Yes, one amazing dog, named Ringo. I had a tough day at the hospital one day and when I returned and saw him it truly brightened my day. He is a very happy and outgoing dog.

Were there other students who stayed with you host family while you were there?

Yes, two other students at all times while I was there. They all had their own private rooms and bathroom, as well.

Where did you spend most of your time in the home?

Not counting my room, I spent a good amount of time around the breakfast and lunch table. I also spent time in the common area where you could relax and watch TV. But I was not home an awful lot because I attended the hospital in the mornings and Spanish classes in the afternoons.

What were your meal times?

Breakfast was around 7am before leaving to the hospital. Lunch was usually around one o’clock.

Did you have access to washing and drying clothes?

Yep! There was a washer machine available at all times. I used clotheslines on the terrace of the home to air dry them.

How did the location of the home impact your stay?

It was ideally located in a neighborhood that was walking range to grocery stores, restaurants, the gymnasium, and the school for our medical Spanish classes.

Timmy - Medical student Liverpool

Timmy – Medicine, Liverpool – (July, 2016)

My experience during the medical electives programs was exactly what I was looking for in a Spanish immersion program. As a medic who is interested in languages, I was hoping to develop as much Spanish as I could so that I could make use of it in my profession in the future. I was also interested in seeing what the health care system was like in South America compared to England, where I attend school. Not only were both of these goals met, but there was much more about the program that made my experience great.

On weekdays, there were Spanish classes held each afternoon. These were wonderful, because there were separate teachers for each subdivision of Spanish, which kept things interesting over the stretch of hours. The teachers were dedicated to each of the students, and one was even individually assigned to me to help work on specific topics (Kevin, the director, was amazing at setting me up in the best position to meet the goals I had for this elective). This showed that the program truly desires for each student to get what they want out of their time spent here. I now know much more Spanish than I ever have, and in a great position to build upon what I have learned.

The time spent in the hospitals combined with the medical Spanish component of daily classes allowed me to gain a good sense of the similarities and differences of the health care system in Peru versus that of England. I also enjoyed observing surgeries and participating in clinics and consultations.

Other enjoyable aspects of the program were that I had a month-long membership to the gym, the host family was pleasant, the group of other students were a joy to be with, and the food was absolutely amazing! Weekends provided sufficient time to travel to the beach, mountains, or do other social activities. This added a good spice to my entire experience, because it allowed me to pick up on the culture and practice my Spanish in real life settings.

Carolyn – Resident in Pediatrics, University of New Mexico Hospital (June 2016)

I went to Peru with the hope of improving my Spanish – I had some background studying it in high school, and currently live in New Mexico, where many of my patients are Spanish-speakers. Before going to Trujillo, I was able to understand most things pretty well, but had a hard time expressing myself, especially with any semblance of good grammar. The Medical Electives program was everything I could have hoped. Since returning to the U.S.A., I now feel comfortable talking to my Spanish-speaking patients without an interpreter, and have been complimented several times by families saying that my Spanish is quite good.

Not only did I learn during the formal lessons, but also during the time I spent each morning in the pediatric ER working with the residents and doctors there. We talked about patient care, but also about a wide range of topics, which gave me the chance to practice speaking about everything ranging from food to sports and even politics (since I was there during the Peruvian election). Having this time to speak exclusively in Spanish and to listen to patients (who do not slow down their speech just because you are a foreigner) was essential to giving me more confidence in my language skills.

I also got the chance to travel with the other students nearly every weekend, and we shared many adventures together. Kevin helped us make travel arrangements, and the other teachers were more than happy to give recommendations about where to go and what to visit. We learned how to navigate the bus system, how to negotiate with tour guides and “taxistas”, and how to check in to hostels at 5 a.m. after an overnight bus ride. Even after the end of the formal program, I met up with two of the other students in Cusco to get lunch and spend more time with them, and went to Machu Picchu the next day with one of them. The friends I made from this program are dear to my heart, and though I may never get the chance to see some of them again I am fortunate to have met them.

I cannot think of a better way to have spent four weeks, and because of this program my ability to communicate and connect with patients has improved immensely. I only wish I could have spent more time there, and hope that someday I will be able to return and visit the friends that I made during that month.

Vivek – Medicine, Newcastle – (June, 2016)

Vivek, from Newcastle University in the UK  offers some helpful information about surfing whilst on your elective in Trujillo.

The medical electives program based in Trujillo is a well-established program in a fantastic location in Peru. Surfing being a keen interest of mine, I jumped at the chance to undertake my Medical Elective after my fourth year in a Spanish-speaking country in a coastal city. Peru is without a doubt under-rated as a surfing destination; mentions of the longest wave (chicama!) float around the internet but apart from that Peru has managed to avoid the spotlight.

The water temperature during the winter months are warmer than the summer months in England, and most will be fine with a summer wetsuit. During Peru´s summer only boardshorts will be enough. No matter what time of the year the sun is intense so cover up with strong water proof sun-cream. The air temperature never gets cold during the day, however temperatures during the night/early morning may be a bit chilly so bring a jumper just in case.

Close to Trujillo is an abundance of left hand point breaks which provide a fantastic opportunity for beginners-intermediates to hone their skills; the waves are easy to catch and highly predictable. Further afield there are more challenging breaks for the more able surfer, with opportunities for tube riding!

Huanchaco is the closest break to Trujillo (40 minutes by bus which costs about 30p) and provides a good left hand point with punchy sections, and is also home to the reed boat fishermen. The town of Huanchaco has an active back-packer vibe and is an easy place to go for short day trips (or even half day trips) with options of seeing some pre-incan ruins on the way in Chan Chan. The beach is self is rocky in parts, but there is a sandy section past the pier suited for beginners. Keep an eye out for sea urchins when you´re getting in/outof the water!

Puerto Malabrigo is about a two and a half hour bus ride away, and home to Chicama the longest wave in the world! So long that a picture will most likely not feature all of the 2km+ wave. The village itself is a lot smaller than Huanchaco with less amenities, so I´d recommend stocking up in the supermarket before you leave for food provisions. There are places to hire boards and wetsuits, however these are limited so bring your own if you can. Note that you will get charged 5 soles more for a board on the bus which may get mishandled! There are places to get lessons here but I would recommend at least surfing once at Huanchaco to truly appreciate this wave. The current here is very strong but only takes you down the beach, so swimming isn´t an option here. Prepare for surfing with a martian landscape backdrop, long rides and long walks back to the point (the real reason they call this wave a leg-burner) or you can spend a bit of money on a boat that will taxi you back to the top like a ski lift! The beach itself is a huge golden sand beach, perfect for sun-bathing, in your down time.

Further afield we have other breaks such as Pacasmayo (Chicama´s bigger brother), Lobitos, Mancora which if you have time can be explored!

Kevin was great in giving information on how to get to and from surf spots, and always enthusiastic to hear about how the trip went.

Things to bring which you may not consider:

  • Bring boots!! The water temperature is fine, the rocks, long walks (Chicama) and sea urchins (Huanchaco) are not. And you will not be able to buy boots out here.
  • If you have a wetsuit bring it (especially if you´re at the extremes of the sizing range- there are limited options), a summer 3:2 wetsuit will be enough in their “winter months”
  • You can buy boards out here, but there isn´t a great range of boards and they can be a bit beat up. And usually they won´t sell with a board bag which can result in a lot of dings due to careless bus staff.
  • Bring fins and leash if you have them- these cost the same if not more than prices back at home due to import prices.
  • Talk to people about what conditions work for the breaks around here- you´ll find that Magicseaweed may not be 100% accurate (who knew?!)
Michael photo

Michael – Medicine, Otago, New Zealand – (June, 2016)

This being the first time I’ve done any major travelling; I was glad to have chosen Medical Electives to do this with. This was a well-structured program with excellent learning opportunities and cultural experiences.

You would live with a home stay family. The location was excellent; the main elective centre, mall, gym and other students were all within walking distance. Even if you come alone, you will be well connected and will make some lasting friendships. You will definitely be well fed with authentic Peruvian cuisine.

In a typical day, the morning consisted of the clinical experience in a hospital. For me, this was an excellent opportunity to practise Spanish with patients. There were always consultants, even though they spoke minimal English, that wanted to include us in their teachings. I was exposed to a wide variety of specialties: emergency medicine, o/g, paediatrics, general medicine.

We had Spanish classes in the afternoon. There were sessions with each of the teachers. They all clearly have been teaching for quite a while because it was very easy to learn in these classes. Each teacher has their own unique style so I never was bored. Before coming here, I had minimal Spanish. After this trip, I definitely feel comfortable with having an easy conversation (albeit slowly) in Spanish.

Beside the main program, there were definitely plenty of opportunities to travel around in Peru. You definitely have a chance to be a tourist and the staff of the program were very accommodating in terms of this. Every weekend in Trujillo, we visited different places such as Huanchacho, Huaraz, Chiclayo. Kevin helped us quite a lot in this aspect with transport and accommodation.

Overall, I would recommend this program as it saved me a lot of hassle from organising my elective. The staff that ran this program were all very well organized and professional.

Kennedy in surgery

Kennedy – Medicine, Virginia – (Feb, 2016)

This medical Spanish immersion program provided me the most productive month-long experience that I have ever undertaken. My goals coming in were to lend as much medical assistance as I could while learning as much Spanish as possible. These expectations were exceeded, thanks to the design of the program.

Let’s start with Kevin, the director of Medical Electives. Easily one of the most approachable and accommodating people I have ever met. I arrived to Trujillo on the same day as two other students. Kevin picked each of us up from the airport, introduced us to our respective host families, and later met up with us to have lunch while going over the lay of the land and the day-to-day structure of the month ahead of us. He is an excellent resource, great to talk to, and completely dedicated to optimizing the experience of every student who enters the Medical Electives Spanish Immersion Program.

The scheduling was very well designed and amenable to the concept of remaining busy without burning out. On weekdays, breakfast would be prepared by 7am. Our driver would pick us up around 7:30am and have us dropped off at the hospital before 8am. Hospital time was roughly from 8am-12:30pm. Our driver would take us back to our residence (often, not before a special requested, tasty, post-work cremalada run) to ready ourselves for lunch at 1pm, which was prepared by the host mother or housekeeper. Classes began at 2:30pm and ended at 6:30pm. The remainder of the day was ours.

The hospital experience will vary based on the location. I was primarily located in the emergency sector of Hospital Regional Decente de Trujillo. I was given the opportunity to directly attend to patient needs, perform modest procedures or assist with crucial ones, and team build with residents, nurses and staff members. This, of course, helped to greatly elevate my Spanish-speaking ability.

Class time was amazing. It was very well structured and organized in such a way that best catered to each student. The classes were broken into conversational Spanish, vocabulary, grammar, and medical Spanish (for students with healthcare interests). There was a separate instructor for each class, and the instructors were all fabulous. Each were very relatable, innovative in their teaching styles, and totally committed to the progress of each student.

Peru is an awesome country to visit. There are so many landmarks with so much history. Our group enjoyed spending most weekends traveling and exploring various towns to get as comprehensive of an experience as possible. Trujillo, our home base, is a pleasant city with friendly locals. I thought it was very conducive location for meeting the needs and wants of the students. Ultimately, I found Peru to be the perfect place to fulfill the goals of medical immersion, Spanish speaking development, and enjoy oneself during free time!

-Kennedy

Kristen and health care students

Kristen  Nutritionist from Ohio, USA (February 2016)

Spending the past month with Medical Electives has been full of culture, learning Spanish, and new experiences. Kevin, the program director, went above and beyond to make sure every student was comfortable, safe and receiving the experience I was looking for. I would highly recommend this program to dietetic students or interns who are looking for a unique nutrition experience. In addition,this program is perfect for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who would like to improve their Spanish language skills while broadening their worldview and learning how to interact with peoples from different cultures. I sincerely enjoyed my time with this program, and now feel more confident in my ability to relay a nutrition message to a Spanish-speaking population.

My final week with Medical Electives was one to remember. I started off by working at the largest and newest hospital in all of northern Peru. Hospital Alta Complejidad is a 240-bed EsSalud facility that is located north of town. It is comparable to hospitals the the USA in terms of infrastructure and equipment. The nutrition team included 5 Nutritionists and 4 interns. I worked on various floors of the hospital and in the outpatient clinic. It was interesting for me to talk with the interns about their schooling and the similarities and differences between our education paths. Here, each nutrition undergraduate student completes a thesis during their dietetic internship. One of the interns was studying growth of different microtoxins in blueberries! The day that I spent with the outpatient nutritionist was particularly interesting. She routinely uses bioelectricalimpedance machine to evaluate her patient’s body water, fat and muscle percentages. I found some of the nutritionists’ recommendations very interesting. She told one patient to consume a detox-type drink that included celery, pineapple and water, before breakfast each day for 15 days in order to lower cholesterol levels. Another patient was struggling with taste changes related to chemotherapy and couldn’t tolerate any type of meat or eggs. The nutritionist recommended she purchase a glutamine supplement to increase her protein intake. Without having a solid background in nutrition, I probably wouldn’t have given these recommendations a second thought, but it is so fascinating to me how recommendations can be so different in other countries. After speaking with Kevin, I understand that the nutrition programs are not as science-based here, which translates into how the nutritionists practice.

My week progressed quickly, especially in Spanish class. Each student had to give a 20-minute presentation in Spanish over a medical topic of our choice. I chose to present on “Nutrición Mundial” or Global Nutrition. I discussed the major nutrition issues facing our world today, the nutrition status of Peru, and how nutrition care differs between the USA and Peru. Although I was very nervous, I was able to relay this information to my classmates and professors. We also took a final grammar/vocabulary exam, held a mini-graduation ceremony and celebrated with a Peruvian meal cooked by our professors. On the morning of our last day together, the police department offered to take our group on a tour of the Chan Chan ruins. We learned about the society that resided in Trujillo many years ago and marveled at their intricate artwork carved into the “adobe” sun-dried brick. The week couldn’t have ended on a more perfect note. I have grown to love the Peruvian people, my classmates and the food (minus the rice and potatoes) here in Peru. It was hard to say goodbye to all of my classmates, professors and host family.

Tyler - Physician Assistant

Tyler PA-C from Virginia, USA (December 2015)

I cannot emphasize and resonate enough the great things that have already been said here about Medical Electives.  Kevin has created an ideal environment for students of all medical specialties (as well as others) to truly immerse and learn as much as possible about Peruvian healthcare and culture while at the same time study Spanish in a unique language learning center.

I was fortunate enough to visit two of Trujillo’s hospitals in my four weeks with medical electives.  While I opted for an emphasis on emergency medicine, the nature of the hospitals allowed me to visit and be welcomed into many different departments.  I was able to see several ob/general/trauma surgeries and at the same time participate and practice Spanish in ambulatory departments as well as acute care and follow up.  All of the doctors were very accommodating and having the opportunity to round on patients in Spanish (complete with gentle natured pimping) was a way to push my language learning to the limit.

The language center is amazing and exceedingly well structured.  The teachers are all exceptional and extremely professional.  Their dedication is easily apparent and their ability to keep four hours of class a day enjoyable speaks volumes as to their experience.

Trujillo is an ideal place to study abroad.  It offers an authentic window into large urban living in Peru.  There is nearby Huanchaco for relaxing on the beach.  The opportunity to stay with a host family is another way to greatly improve language skills.  The entire family that I stayed with welcomed me to their home and it is with nostalgia that I remember waking up every morning wondering how I might embarrass myself that day over a delicious home-cooked breakfast using my glaringly inept (to begin with) Spanish.  By the end of the four weeks I was happy to have moved from making a fool of myself with my words and replacing that with the still lacking physical prowess required to play football as well as Peruvians.

Lastly I want to mention the perhaps lesser acknowledged role Medical Electives takes.  Kevin adopts many projects outside of making sure the programs of several simultaneous students run smoothly.  He, along with the team of teachers, does amazing work in providing aid to the impoverished in Peru.  He is a person whom is truly “on the ground” and he and Rocky both genuinely return actual tangible results to the community around them.

This testimonial is only a fraction of thanks and praise I have for Kevin, Elvis, Rocky, my host family, the amazing Spanish instructors as well as the doctors and staff at El Regional and La Florencia.

Thanks again,

Tyler Prewett PA-C

© Copyright The Medical Elective Network 2019