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Cacha Medical Spanish Institute – Afton Chavez, MD

Written by Afton Chavez, MD, PGY-1 at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Internal Medicine Program while on Global Health rotation at Cacha Medical Spanish Institute in Riobamba, Ecuador in March 2017.

I highly recommend this global health elective.  In just a two-week period (8 days of Spanish classes), my medical Spanish improved significantly.  The teachers at the institute are very professional and are excellent at teaching Spanish.  My professor had a degree in Linguistics and was incredibly knowledgeable and effective at helping us understand the semantics of the language, beyond what any textbook could do.  In addition, the institute went out of their way to make sure that students were placed into specialties that were relevant to their career (a medical student that had matched into ENT was paired with an otolaryngologist, an OB/GYN resident was placed with an OB/GYN clinic).

I worked with a dermatologist who was very smart and knowledgeable about the field, and in addition to teaching me Spanish, he also taught me a lot of useful information about dermatology.  Every day I had homework from the doctor and from my medical Spanish teacher, so the days always felt full and there was much to learn.  I stayed with a lovely host family who showered me with kindness and generosity and welcomed me into their home as if I were one of their own.  In fact, I would say everyone at the institute was very warm and welcoming, and truly cared about making the experience worth-while and comfortable. My only regret is that I was not able to stay longer, as the full “course” is 4 weeks, and it felt like I had only just gotten there and could have progressed even more with some additional time.


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