Primary Care & Social Medicine
“Whatever path countries choose, universal health coverage is key to prevent people from falling into poverty due to illness, and to give everyone the opportunity to live healthier, more productive lives - regardless of ability to pay” -- Nicole Klingen, World Bank Acting Director for Health, Nutrition and Population
Like many other countries in Latin America, Argentina has developed a universal healthcare system and invested heavily in primary care over the last decade. According to Eduardo Bustos Villar, Vice Minister of Health in Argentina, “Access to health systems must be fair, equitable and based on primary care.” Primary care providers are a pivotal component in the overall strategy of Argentina to provide health for all. 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. Join this program and gain insight into Argentina’s primary care network and how the goals outlined in the 1978 Alma Atta Declaration are being carried out.
Rotate alongside primary healthcare providers, the first point of access into the healthcare system, at clinics, community health centers, and hospitals in the University town of Cordoba, the second largest city in Argentina. Experience an often more intimate style of patient-provider rapport found in Latin America, a relationship and communication style central to successful health outcomes. As you shadow professionals performing consultations learn more about low-income and immigrant patient populations who do not have access to private insurance. Learn from them as they undertake patient education, disease prevention, and diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
Become immersed in Argentinian culture and language through conversational and medical Spanish classes while living with local students or families in Cordoba. CFHI participants may also organize weekend trips to destinations such as Villa Carlos Paz lake region, La Cumbrecita and other hill towns for hiking and outdoor activities. Within Cordoba city, enjoy the lively nightlife and vibrant cultural scene including museums, theaters and cafes.
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. Eeveryday 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. Join mobile clinics run by the ministry of health providing free services such as blood pressure screening, vaccines, mammograms and nutrition counseling. In addition, in various secondary hospitals in the city learn from the Social Services Department, 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 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 a year.
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
CFHI participants have free time most evenings and weekends and may choose to organize weekend trips to nearby destinations and 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. Outside of the city, Cordoba offers many options for nature lovers, such as hiking the various mountain ranges, as well as enjoying lakes, waterfalls and small farming villages that dot the countryside.
Argentina also offers natural wonders like Iguazu Falls, which spans two countries and the mountain ranges of Patagonia. The city of Buenos Aires is also a popular destination, with its French-inspired architecture, cosmopolitan vibe, food and entertainment.
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 room.
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 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 or Monday after arrival.
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: 30 hours/month of Spanish classes, including medical Spanish instruction and cultural activities
- CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
- Weekly 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
- 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, June 2015