Central College News

Featured: A Healthy Dose of Spanish

October 1, 2012

Future health care pros: think study abroad can’t fit into your schedule? Well, now it can! Starting in fall 2013, Central College Abroad is creating a new opportunity specially designed for health care students. The Studies in Global Health program, located in Merida, Yucatan, is aimed at preparing students for an increasingly diverse medical field.

Designed to examine the public and private health care systems of Mexico, this program will scrutinize prevailing health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Students will learn not only about mainstream medicine, but also natural healing in urban and rural settings. This health care emphasis in unique to the Merida program among the eight international Central College Abroad sites.

“Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States,” says Valerie Grimsley, Merida program director. “The reality is that most health professionals will have a sizable number of Latinos as a part of his/her patient or case load.  What better way to better serve the Latino community than a semester in Yucatan dedicated to putting health care in a cultural context, improving Spanish language skills and gaining invaluable internship experience?”

As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, communication and effective health care for all patients can become more of a challenge. Patents’ perspectives on health can vary widely—and understanding those views can help future health care professional treat patients of many populations.

The four components of the new program address these issues and many more.

  • Healthcare in Yucatan: This course provides the historical, political and social context of Yucatecan health care. The focus is on understanding the social determinants of health—including access to health care, environmental impact and social conditions such as employment and family relationships.
  • Spanish for Health Professionals: In this course, students will develop strong speaking and comprehension skills, as well as specialized vocabulary relevant to daily situations in different aspects of health care.
  • Spanish Conversation and Composition: This course will help bolster students’ grammar and writing skills, as well as providing more opportunities to practice Spanish aloud.
  • Internships will be available at settings pertinent to the student’s particular field of interest and language level. Options include various hospitals, a rehabilitation center, a pharmacy, a rural health clinic, a community health center, an animal control center and an alternative energy producer.

In addition to gaining vital health care skills, students will take in Yucatecan culture through a variety of activities included in the study abroad program. Students will take field trips to explore the natural beauty of southeastern Mexico, including cenotes, a flamingo reserve, waterfalls, archeological sites and a trip to the state of Chiapas.

Central College students have been studying abroad in Merida since 1968. In addition to the new Studies in Global Health program in the fall, Central College Abroad will host a Language and Culture program during the spring semester. That program provides an immersive experience in the classroom and community and dramatically improves Spanish language skills.