Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Center for Global Health

Centro Medico Humberto Parra - Palacios, Bolivia

Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) medical students may apply to complete a 4-8 week rotation for elective credit in International Health at the free outpatient clinic located in Palacios, Bolivia, about 90 kilometers from Santa Cruz. Students and residents will be exposed to an environment that lacks the technical advances they may be accustomed to in the U.S. and will develop skills and knowledge on infectious diseases not generally encountered in the US. Rotations may also be made at the municipal hospital and another nearby clinic in Santa Cruz. A high level of Spanish fluency is required.

Dates:  M4s may apply to visit the clinic at any time during the year, while M1s may visit during the summer months, space permitting.

Length of Rotation: 4-8 weeks

Location: Palacios, Bolivia

Language Requirement: Intermediate fluency in Spanish required

Student level: M1s (summer only) and M4s

How to Apply: Complete the Online Application

Elective Credit:  Students may apply to receive credit for the elective in International Health.  Beyond the goals of the elective rotation described below students are required to prepare a 10-15 minute health education lecture in Spanish that will be presented a minimum of two times to clinic attendings, staff, and visiting medical students and residents.  Students will also be required to work on an independent study project, chosen from a list developed by clinic administrators.  The project often involves designing a new protocol or updating public health programs for the clinic and the local community.  Examples include projects on pediatric dental health, colon cancer screening, Chagas screening and treatment protocols, obesity/exercise program, health promoter program, among others.  Students will be assigned a project by the clinic administrator.  The expectation is that students will do a brief literature review before the rotation begins, complete the project on site, and submit a 4-6 page recommendation to the clinic administrator before departure.

Goals of Elective Credit:

Rotation Information:
Medical students generally spend Wednesday through Saturday at the Centro Medico Humberto Parra clinic, which was founded in 2001 and is funded by the Daniels Hamant Foundation.  It is located 90 kilometers from Santa Cruz, the largest city in Bolivia.  This free clinic serves an area with about 40,000 people. Here the greatest amount of continuity of care is possible as follow-up is a major focus of effort.  The clinic has two regular examination rooms, an infirmary/treatment room, a class room, a dental suite and an ophthalmology room.  It has a small pharmacy, a storage area and a small laboratory that is capable of doing routine chemistries and urinalyses.  An electrocardiogram machine is also available as well as cellular telephone and internet access via satellite.  It is staffed by two full time nurses and by rotating Bolivian and American doctors who supervise students and residents. Dr. Douglas Villarroel is the on-site Director.

Affiliated Faculty
Mark E. Molitch, M.D, Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
Susan H. Hou, M.D, Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois
Douglas Villarroel, M.D, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Professor of Medicine, Universidad Católice Boliviana, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Helpful Links:
Centro Medico Humberto Parra
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US State Department
World Health Organization Country Profile

Students and residents will be met at the airport by a representative of Centro Medico Humberto Parra, in the clinic's 4 wheel drive vehicle.  They will stay at the home of Drs. Molitch and Hou while in Santa Cruz and in the visiting doctors and students quarters at the clinic.  All housing is multiple occupancy rooms with air-conditioning and costs approximately $125 per week, which includes a select number of meals.

Evaluations (only accessible to users with a valid NetID):

For More Information:
Centro Medico Humberto Parra

Center for Global Health
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
645. N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1058
Chicago, IL 60611