Hospital Medicine & Primary Care in Argentina (Spring Break Global Health Seminar)
Argentina, located in the southern cone of South America, is the second largest country in the region. It is famous for its European inspired cities, tourist sites and gastronomy. Over the last several years, there has been a concerted effort to provide universal coverage to the entire population through major investments in primary care and the development of a decentralized network of primary and secondary clinics and hospitals. A huge shift in public health policy in Argentina during the last 10 years has meant more funds have been designated towards the public healthcare system, resulting in the increase of access, services and quality. As part of this approach, Argentine medical schools encourage students to pursue a career in primary healthcare, whereas only a fifth of US medical students choose this specialty. During this intensive Spring Break Global Health Seminar, gain insight into Argentina’s hospitals, its primary care network, and how the goals outlined in the 1978 Alma Atta Declaration are being carried out.
Participants will experience the university town of Cordoba, the second largest city in Argentina. Learn about hospital medicine and primary care through site visits and rotations at some of the oldest and most renowned teaching hospitals and primary care departments in Latin America, such as the premier infectious disease hospital and the largest public pediatric hospital in the region. Witness government efforts to provide care to a large percentage of the population without health insurance. Deepen your understanding of the determinants of health through cultural/historical activites, as well as lectures and discussions on case studies with local residents, medical students, and healthcare professionals.
Become immersed in Argentinian culture and language through conversational and medical Spanish classes while living with families in Cordoba. Within Cordoba city, enjoy the vibrant cultural scene including museums, theaters and cafes, and enjoy a day trip to the Sierras on your last Saturday.
This Seminar includes pre-departure training, guided ongoing reflection, and a brief essay at the end.
Clinical Rotations & Public Health Placements
Primary Care General Hospital- This public hospital has a mission “to provide free care to the poorest of the poor.” As most public hospitals, it offers primary healthcare services as well. Everyday staff at this hospital perform around 100 consultations. Here, federal and public health awareness campaigns on sexual and reproductive health, vector-borne disease prevention and maternal and child health are provided, all essential components of primary health. This site is also recognized as a leading scientific research center and teaching hospital offering lectures for medical students and residents. The hospital has one of the most respected residency programs in Argentina.
State Ministry of Health- The Ministry of Health in charge of running federal and state public health outreach and education programs. Learn from mobile clinics run by the ministry of health providing free services such as blood pressure screening, vaccines, mammograms and nutrition counseling. In addition, work with the Social Services Department within various secondary hospitals in the city, which run education and outreach programs, such as monthly diabetes education groups, a free diabetes medication program, sexual health education, and healthy eating campaigns.
Pediatric Hospital & Primary Care- Learn from local pediatricians providing free or low cost care to children between 6 months and 14 years of age at this public hospital. General pediatric consult is provided daily. Besides numerous specialty wards including ophthalmology, internal medicine, traumatology, and emergency medicine, pediatric primary health care encompasses health supervision and anticipatory guidance, which includes monitoring physical and psychosocial growth and development and provision of first contact care and coordinated management of health problems requiring multiple professional services. The hospital receives approximately 500,000 patients year.
Infectious Disease Hospital- This public hospital is known as the premiere infectious disease hospital in Cordoba. Here, federal and public health awareness campaigns on sexual and reproductive health, vector-borne disease prevention and maternal and child health are provided.
Research Hospital- This tertiary public hospital has a mission “to provide free care to the poorest of the poor.” This site is recognized as a leading scientific research center and teaching hospital offering lectures for medical students and residents. Rotate with specialists in internal medicine, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, nephrology and plastic surgery departments. The hospital has one of the most respected residency programs in Argentina and is also renowned for thoracic and neck surgeries and other high-risk procedures.
Tertiary Care Hospital- Join the staff of this dynamic and busy hospital and experience the challenges of providing tertiary care in a resource-limited setting. This facility is the largest tertiary public hospital in Cordoba and is the main referral hospital for complicated cases. The hospital is open 24 hours and offers specialties including cardiology, nutrition, diabetes, oncology and ophthalmology. The hospital also houses a burn unit and serves as the main transplant center in the region.
City Emergency Hospital- This 70-bed facility has 4 operating rooms and receives over 90% of all emergency cases in the city. It specializes in providing care for trauma cases and other life-threatening diseases, and treats the majority of cases related to car accidents and work-related or sports injuries. Join dynamic healthcare teams offering outpatient and inpatient emergency care to about 1,200 patients a day.
CFHI is considered a global health ethics leader therefore CFHI programs uphold strict standards and comply with all local laws regarding student involvement in health settings. Your experience on the program depends on your previous clinical training (if applicable), Spanish level, and the relationship you build with your supervising preceptor. Above all, YOU are the most important factor in making the CFHI experience as fulfilling as possible by being respectful, culturally-humble, inquisitive, and open to the wide variety of learning experiences which you will encounter.
Cordoba is the second largest city in Argentina, a country located at the southern tip of South America, renowned for its educational and cultural accomplishments. Cordoba is located about 800 miles from the capital of Buenos Aires. Cordoba, boasting a population of over 1 million, is located in the foothills of the Sierras de Cordoba, or Cordoba Hills. The weather is mild, ranging in the 70-80's in the summer and 50-60's the rest of the year.
Cordoba has more universities than any other city in Argentina, with over 20% of the population attending nine local universities. Its architecture, food and inhabitants reflect a strong European influence. Pizza, gelato and all types of pasta, with a South American twist, are common. Cordobeses, inhabitants from Cordoba, are known throughout Argentina for their hospitality, warmth and sense of humor.
Things to Do
Though free time during the Spring Break Global Health Seminars is limited, students may take part in cultural activities offered within the city of Cordoba itself. Cordoba is teeming with cultural and recreational activities, such as live theater, musicals, concerts and museums, like The Medical and Anatomical Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, and a museum dedicated to the victims of Argentina’s infamous military dictatorship.
Accommodations & Homestays
Stay in homestays chosen and screened by our Local Coordinators in Cordoba. All homestays are located in the downtown area, in middle class neighborhoods, with convenient public transportation and close to a variety of shopping and entertainment districts. Most homestays are in high-rise apartments, a common feature of urban living in Argentina. They are located in close proximity to one another. In some cases CFHI participants may be housed with others in the same homestay, but will always have their own bed.
CFHI participants may live with Argentinian university students, couples with young children, working professionals or retirees. Homestays provide a unique opportunity to learn about local culture and practice Spanish skills on a daily basis in an informal setting. Accommodations include 2 meals per day. At the welcome orientation, participants will be instructed on recommended transportation from homestays to clinical rotations and other activities, as well as getting around the city.
Eligibility: Who Can Apply?
This CFHI program is ideal for students of all levels with an interest in fields related to hospital medicine and primary care, as well as understanding the benefits and limitations of free universal healthcare coverage. Non-students are also eligible. This program will provide an in-depth overview of hospital medicine in Latin America through visits and experiences within hospitals in the city of Cordoba. To confirm your eligibility, please read CFHI’s general eligibility requirements.
Minimum Language Required: Beginner 2 Spanish or Above
Beginner 2 Spanish: “I can communicate simply when I am in familiar, everyday situations.”
- I can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
- I can communicate simple and routine tasks requiring a basic and direct exchange of information. Examples include discussing weekend plans, asking for directions, planning social outings or going grocery shopping.
Leading this program on-site are our on-site partners (see Local Team tab), all natives of Argentina who speak Spanish as their primarily language, but do know English as well. To provide authentic learning experiences translators are not provided. Daily interactions will be in Spanish, but CFHI’s local team is able to support and help you through your experience.
All CFHI participants applying to programs in Latin America will evaluate their Spanish language skills as part of their application. Most important is your general ability to communicate verbally with those around you, versus accuracy with grammatical tenses. All CFHI Latin America programs include Spanish language instruction on-site.
Not sure about your Spanish level? View a full list of CFHI’s language levels for all Latin America programs on our Spanish Level Guidelines page.
Participants should arrive to the city of Cordoba on the program start date and will be picked up from the airport by a CFHI representative and taken to their homestay. A welcome orientation will take place the Sunday after arrival. Students should plan to depart on the Sunday after their weeklong program ends.
Please note that you are required to schedule your flight to arrive at Cordoba's International Airport between 9am-9pm on the program start date. This is required and not simply recommended to reduce burden placed on the coordinators and home stays in Cordoba having to welcome students outside of these hours and to eliminate challenges that arrise in arranging transportation. There are many options for flights arriving to Cordoba, so you should not have a problem scheduling a flight within this time frame. We are happy to be flexible where needed (i.e. arriving a day early or late), however this recommended arrival window is essential.
Visas are not required for U.S. citizens staying less than 3 months in Argentina. In addition, effective March 24, 2016 U.S. citizens are no longer required to pay a $160 reciprocity fee for entry into Argentina. More information on travel and logistics will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.
- Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
- Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.
- Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation with local CFHI representative to homestay
- Welcome orientation covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
- Spanish Classes: 10 hours, including medical Spanish instruction and cultural activities
- CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
- Meetings and lectures on local healthcare system, socio-economic determinants of health and current cultural/historical topics
- Placement and coordination of clinical/public health activities
- Accommodation and two meals a day
- Local cell phone
- Rechargeable bus card
- International emergency medical and evacuation insurance
- Day trip to the Sierras of Cordoba
- Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
- CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved
Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more.
Meet the Local Team
Carlos Giavay Waiss, JD- CFHI Cordoba Program Director:
Carlos oversees the logistical as well as clinical and public health aspects of the program. Carlos and his team arrange clinical rotations, supervise the participant experience at these sites and provide instruction on public health topics during weekly meetings. Carlos cooperates with local physicians and healthcare personnel at each rotation site to oversee each participant’s experience.
Carlos has worked for CFHI since 2012 and is the founder and president of a local non-profit organization working with foreign exchange students. He graduated with a law degree from Cordoba University and has taken graduate courses in business management and economics in Italy and the U.S. He was Dean of Student Affairs at a national law school and municipal attorney for the city of Cordoba. As a teenager, Carlos lived in Alaska for a year as a foreign exchange student. This experience sparked his passion for intercultural exchange and international travel. He enjoys working with CFHI students who have an interest in the social and cultural aspects of health. In his free time, Carlos enjoys working on his garden, going on hikes and local gastronomy.
Andres ‘Charly’ Alegre and Antje Koenig- Local Coordinators:
Both Andres and Antje assist Carlos with organizing housing, airport pick up, orientation, weekly meetings and other logistics for all participants.
Charly was born in northern Argentina and moved to Cordoba to attend University. He participated in a cultural exchange program in Montreal in 2012, sparking his love for travel and culture. He loves working with CFHI students, sharing his country and culture with students from abroad. During his free time, he enjoys watching movies in English, trekking and learning other languages.
Antje is a native of Germany and moved to Bolivia in the late 80's. She met her husband and had her 4 children in Bolivia, later moving to Argentina where she finished her degree in Psychology and Foreign languages. She also has taught courses at local University in Psychopedagogy and German. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, taking long walks in the hilly countryside around Cordoba and spending time with her family.
What Alumni Say
"As a global health major in college I was able to see what I had studied in the classroom play out in front of me during my time in Argentina. I am now excited about the prospect of entering medical school armed with my recent experiences and my growing passion for the intersection of global health and medicine."
--Madison Pomerantz, Post-Bacc Undergraduate Student, Washington University in St. Louis, May 2016
“I started as the first ever intern at the Ministry of Health in Cordoba, Argentina. ..it is important to note that it used to be an orphanage that was part of the work of Evita many years ago. In the past few years Argentina has transitioned out of having many orphanages and into a...” Read more on Olivia’s Blog.
-- Olivia Paradis, Premed Student, October 2013
"You know those rare occasions in life when everything is so absolutely perfect that you literally can't think of a single thing you would pray to change? That is exactly how this trip is. I’ve never been happier or more at peace with who I am and where I’m at." Read more on Mary's blog.
-- Mary Craig, Medical Student 1st Year, University of Alabama School of Medicine