Hillside Health Care International - Eldridgeville, Belize
Hillside Health Care International (HHCI) operates as a faith-based facility providing healthcare to an underserved population near Eldridgeville, Belize. The clinic accepts short-term medical volunteers and has a medical education curriculum with objectives that include the appreciation of cost-effective approaches to medical care in a resource constrained setting, development of team-building skills and recognizing prevalent cross-cultural and underserved issues in primary care, among many others.
HHCI welcomes both long- and short-term health professional volunteers. Past and present volunteers include physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational and physical therapists, physician assistants and dentists. Faculty from participating medical, nursing and allied programs are encouraged to volunteer when students from their institution are scheduled. Volunteers are readily incorporated into all aspects of the daily HHCI program, including work with the student/resident participants. Physician, nurse and therapist volunteers have the opportunity to deliver care while precepting the elective participants and impacting their educational experience. Long-term volunteers at HHCI have the opportunity to contribute to program growth and innovation. All volunteers will be exposed to the diverse cultures of the area and be able to enjoy the unique natural surroundings of the region.
- Dates: Year-round
- Length of rotation: Four week minimum and one year maximum for medical students; MDs may visit for shorter periods of time
- Location: Eldridgeville, Toledo District, Belize, C.A.
- Language requirement: English
- Student level: Third- and fourth-year medical students, medical residents from primary care specialties and physician assistant students are eligible for the medical education program; MPH students may also apply to visit for a field experience; there are also variable-length service learning programs for nursing students, physical/occupational therapy students and dental students
- How to apply: Complete the online application; visiting medical students should plan at least 10 to 12 months in advance to secure a rotation spot
- Elective credit: Students may apply to receive credit for the Elective in International Health
Students are required to pay HHCI $1,800 for a four-week rotation. This covers housing for four weeks as well as application fees. Feinberg students may apply to the Global Health Initiative for funding and include this figure in the proposed budget.
Two teams of doctors, healthcare professionals and medical students provide care on an ongoing basis with one team operating out of the clinic and the other participating in mobile clinics that visit rural villages. The freestanding clinic meets the needs of local residents and villagers who leave their own homes as early as 3:30 a.m. on the market buses in order to come to HHCI. Additionally, mobile clinics are operated on a rotating basis in coordination with the Belizean Ministry of Health in remote Garifuna, Creole and Mayan villages. A growing home visitation program in Southern Belize provides care to the homebound. Approximately 70 patients are visited in their homes each week. Finally, community education programs are offered for village healthcare workers and the community at large. Students/residents participate in all of these components. Guidance for the education program is provided by the stateside HHCI educational committee along with the HHCI physician, nurse administrator and other clinic staff.
While at HHCI, the students/residents are exposed to a variety of cross-cultural experiences as they work with the Maya, Garifuna, Creole, East Indian and other Belizean cultures. They learn to evaluate patients while working through language barriers and cultural differences. Confidence is gained in evaluation skills as participants are required to make diagnoses and treatment plans without the reassurance of diagnostic tools they may be accustomed to. Many participants report gaining a much greater awareness of the barriers to medical care that are incipient in impoverished communities as they participate in home visits in areas where 79 percent of the population is living below the poverty line. Most return home with a greater appreciation of the healthcare and basic living needs of the medically underserved in their own home countries.
Students/residents at HHCI participate in the program for a one-month elective. During that time, they are involved in many aspects of the operation of the clinic as they work closely with the clinic medical and support staff. The clinic is closed on weekends so that students have the opportunity to take side trips in the unique Central American country of Belize or into neighboring Guatemala. Participants normally find that the month passes quickly as they take advantage of the learning and cultural opportunities.
All of the activities in which students/residents participate are aimed at improving the health status of the population served as well as establishing long-term relationships with local healthcare providers and educators at all levels. Through these varied activities, participants will gain an appreciation of how medicine and health promotion are conducted in a developing environment, representing a large segment of the world’s population. Concurrently, participants will gain an understanding and appreciation of the unique cultures of Belize and of the unique medical conditions encountered in the tropics.
Obtaining a temporary license in Belize is mandatory for all volunteers prior to their arrival. The HHCI administration will facilitate the licensing process. To do so, it will need to receive each volunteer’s health professional license, CV and a copy of their diploma(s) at least three months prior to their desired start date.
- Hillside Health Care International
- Hillside Health Care Student Rotation Schedule
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. State Department
- World Health Organization Country Profile
A basic double-occupancy dormitory is available at the clinic for medical students.
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