Medical Spanish Immersion Program
Mission Statement for International Medical Work
Common Ground International aims to provide its Spanish Immersion Program participants with training and experiences that will help them develop their oral and intercultural communication skills such that they may effectively communicate with native Spanish speakers. Whether this is a personal or professional goal, we will help participants reach it through a combination of pre-departure preparation, language and cultural immersion at the program site, and service to the local community.
Common Ground International and all participants in its medical programs seek to provide ethical and respectful outreach services that address local health care needs in the host country. For our international medical work to be “Ethical and respectful”, it will necessarily include:
- Preparation: Before travelling abroad, students and preceptors will acquire as thorough an understanding of local medical and public health needs as possible. Students and preceptors will also work to strengthen their Spanish language skills both before and during the program through reading, self-study and formal language courses. Whenever possible, Common Ground International will arrange meetings between students and local health care experts, in order to familiarize students with health care infrastructure, common health conditions and beliefs, and local health care practices.
- Collaboration: Our students, preceptors and program coordinators will work in close partnership with local providers, public health officials and humanitarian organizations. Participants will take part in existing efforts designed and guided by these local entities, so that they may gain a more comprehensive understanding of local health care and contribute to local health care priorities in a culturally appropriate and sustainable manner, despite short-term involvement.
- Supervision: In all clinical care settings, students and other trainees will be appropriately supervised. They will understand that they are working under, and not in place of, local health providers.
- Patient-centered care: Students and preceptors will understand their limits and will not practice outside their scope of training and competency. The fundamental tenets of medical professionalism, including humanism, respectful communication, confidentiality, empathy, integrity and putting patients’ interests first, are as applicable in resource-poor international settings as at home.
- Integration: Most students and preceptors will have only a short-term presence in the host country. Therefore, all volunteer clinical services must be coordinated and integrated with local medical, nursing, pharmacy and other providers. Attention must be paid to medical record-keeping, patient safety, appropriate use of pharmaceuticals, follow-up care and existing provider-patient relationships. Wherever possible, we will look for opportunities to work alongside local health care providers.
- Communication: We will communicate regularly with local health providers and other experts; feedback, reflection and critique are essential to ensure that the charlas, outreach activities and medical care services we offer are culturally appropriate and address local health care priorities.
- Program evaluation: Common Ground International will obtain regular feedback from directors of humanitarian organizations, community leaders, local health care providers, patients, students and other program participants, in order to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of all medical care and outreach activities.
We recognize the preceding components as forming an important connection between our educational and medical goals: While these elements are crucial to the ethics of medical engagement abroad, they are also an important guide for students and providers who seek to provide public health and medical care services in resource-poor cities and communities in the United States.
LEARN MORE about Common Ground’s Medical Spanish Immersion programs in Central America