A New Perspective
Studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica has been an incredible experience so far! CEA has given me many opportunities to get the most out of my study abroad experience through activities such as volunteering. The local hospital in downtown San Jose, Hospital Nacional de Niños, allows students to volunteer during the week. To participate in this program, it is necessary to have an intermediate Spanish speaking ability and to volunteer for at least three hours per week. I was very excited when I heard about this program because it will give me a better understanding of healthcare on a global scale. As a physician assistant major, I think that it is very important to gain different perspectives of the healthcare field to provide the best care possible.
To begin volunteering, I had to go through a day of orientation where I met the Damas, women who oversee the volunteer programs at the hospital. I quickly learned that this experience would be unlike anything I have ever participated in. The hospital itself is large with lots of people who only speak Spanish. It was then that I realized how important it was for the volunteers to have a strong background in Spanish especially if you needed to ask for directions! Throughout the day, I was led on a tour of the hospital, given my t-shirt and ID, as well as listened to the do’s and don’ts of this job. My main responsibilities were to keep children company when their parents can’t be there. As the day went on, I kept getting more excited about returning the next week to begin volunteering and learning about this facility!
My first day on the job I was assigned to a patient who was only a few months old. I sat with him while his mom made a few phone calls. While I was in this room a nurse came in to change his linens I asked her why the patient was admitted and how long he would be staying. She replied in Spanish of course and when I was able understand most of what she had said I was so proud of how my Spanish has improved! It was a neat experience to interact with healthcare professionals outside of the United States and see the differences and similarities. I know I will learn a lot of this experience and be able to apply my new knowledge clinically in the future!
Lindsey C. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in San José. She is currently a Junior majoring in Physician Assistant Studies at Philadelphia University.