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Clínica de Familia La Romana - La Romana, Dominican Republic

Clínica de Familia La Romana provides medical attention and psychosocial support to adults and children with HIV, sex workers, adolescent and other highly vulnerable populations in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. It provides comprehensive primary and HIV-specialized outpatient medical care, community and home-based services, psychosocial support services and an annual summer camp for HIV-positive children. Clinical services include general medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, pharmacy, laboratory, ultrasound, family planning, mental health and nursing services. The clinic is one of the largest HIV clinics in the country, providing care and antiretroviral treatment to 1,400 children and adults with HIV. Moreover, the clinic oversees special programs for the reduction of vertical transmission of HIV and prenatal and reproductive health care for adolescents through the Maternal-Infant Health Annex (MAMI) in collaboration with the largest public hospital in the province. Clínica de Familia aims to improve the quality of life of the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the eastern part of the country with a holistic, family-centered approach.

  • Length of rotation: Four weeks
  • Location: La Romana, Dominican Republic
  • Language requirement: Spanish fluency required
  • Student level: Phase 1, 2 and 3 are eligible; MPH students may apply to visit for a field experience
  • How to apply: Complete the online application
  • Elective credit: Family and community medicine, infectious diseases

Goals of Elective Credit

  • Increased cultural competency and understanding of the practice of medicine and public health in resource poor settings
  • Increased knowledge of HIV care and treatment, sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and treatment, HIV vertical transmission, family planning and adolescent reproductive health
  • Improved care for vulnerable populations in the Eastern Dominican Republic, accomplished through a project of public health, clinical or research importance at Clínica de Familia La Romana
  • Increased understanding of Dominican and Latino immigration in the United States and improved healthcare provision through exposure to Dominican and Haitian culture and Spanish immersion

Rotation Information

The rotation comprises clinical work, research/scholarly activity, academics and cultural immersion. Students work with clinicians providing care to children and adults at Clínica de Familia La Romana and adolescents at the MAMI. Visits, and in some cases clinical rotations, are also organized with Hospital Francisco Gonzalvo (large public provincial hospital with which Clínica de Familia works closely), Centro Médico Central Romana (a private hospital owned by the sugarcane company) and Hospital Buen Samaritano’s Batey Outreach Program (accompanying their outreach teams to rural bateyes), among others. International students and volunteers can also have opportunities to interact with Dominican students, interns and medical professionals as well as tour regional clinics and Dominican universities in order to become familiar with the Dominican systems of public health and education.

As their scholarly activity, some students may work on quality initiatives or other projects relevant to the Clínica de Familia. Some students engage in already existing research programs. Longer-term participants may design their own research protocol in coordination with the clinic. Approval of research protocols by U.S. and Dominican boards of ethics may take up to six months, prior to the start of the research. In the past, some participants have engaged in research that has subsequently been published, contributing to the body of scientific knowledge coming out of the Dominican Republic.

Clínica de Familia’s clinical team has weekly continuing medical education sessions, which
students are encouraged to participate in. There is also an interactive seminar for students during the summer (and at others times of the year, depending on student interest), where participants engage in literature review, informal presentations and discussion of a variety of topics relating to providing care in a resource-limited setting, organizational challenges and funding and the Dominican health system, among others. In addition, participants provide a final presentation of their project to relevant staff. Some engage in teaching and training clients and/or staff as part of their projects.

Clínica de Familia facilitates participants’ involvement in a variety of cultural activities within the clinic and in the community at large. Staff from Clínica de Familia host welcome and farewell dinners for all participants and also organize other cultural activities and events throughout participants’ time in the Dominican Republic. La Romana offers opportunities for integration and immersion into Dominican life, giving participants the opportunity to learn firsthand about diverse elements of Dominican culture. There are also Spanish and Haitian Kreyol classes available.

The daily schedule of each student varies, depending on their interests and selected project, but generally each day includes time for both clinical rotations and projects. Participants are expected to work during the regular clinic hours (Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Helpful Links

Accommodations

Housing for participants is provided at Casa Internacional, a dormitory-style student house, located in a safe neighborhood approximately 1 mile north of La Romana’s city center. Casa Internacional accommodates 10 guests in single-, double- and multiple-bed rooms. The two-story facility includes air conditioning in the bedrooms, hot water, a full kitchen, wireless internet, daily housekeeping, laundry service two days per week and security services from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. to ensure the safety of its residents. There is complimentary breakfast served daily, Monday through Friday. Casa Internacional is located just blocks away from three large supermarkets and within a short walking distance of a variety of restaurants.

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