Guatemala Service Learning

Anticipated dates: May 25-June 5, 2020 and (if enough student interest for second trip) July 27-August 7, 2020

The application for the program can be found here. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2020.

Overview:  The Guatemala Service Learning experience is a unique, interprofessional opportunity to provide direct patient care to communities around San Lucas Tolimán, which is located near Lake Atitlán in southwestern Guatemala. For more than a decade, students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin have traveled to San Lucas to provide care in temporary clinics over 2-week periods. Our work is coordinated through an organization called the San Lucas Mission and is in close conjunction with local health promoters allowing us to provide sustainable care that is responsive to the specific needs of the communities we serve.

A typical day for our group consists of organizing supplies for the day, traveling to a clinic site, and holding clinic in the morning and afternoon. While at the clinics, students work in groups to screen the patients, conduct histories and physical examinations, and then present patients to the providers for evaluation. Each evening, there is a teaching session provided by UW faculty to discuss topics related to patient care, global health, social determinants of health, and other topics of interest.

Weekends are usually free for sightseeing or other activities. In addition to medical care, there are several community projects that the Mission coordinates and students are able to participate in these projects as time allows. These include reforestation, construction, coffee picking/ processing, and stove-building.

Logistics: The group (if there is enough interest, we will have two groups) will be comprised of 10-12 medical, pharmacy, and physical therapy students and 4-5 faculty members. Spanish proficiency is beneficial but not required as interpreters will be used in our patient evaluations.

Cost: Each student is responsible for his or her own costs including travel to Guatemala. Food/lodging/transportation approximately $700 per week for food/lodging ($1400 total) which is provided by the San Lucas Mission. The total estimated cost is approximately $2000.

Dates: The anticipated dates for the service learning trip will be May 25-June 5, 2020. If there is student interest in a second trip, the anticipated dates will be July 27-August 7, 2020.

Orientation: There will be a series of orientation sessions prior to each trip to familiarize students about the San Lucas community, the Mission, and ongoing projects. We will also be reviewing physical exam and history-taking skills. Participation in these sessions is mandatory for joining us in Guatemala. There will also be required online orientation materials found on Canvas.

Coordination: While the San Lucas Mission is involved in coordinating transportation, housing, and meals, this is a student-directed experience. Students are responsible for any needed fundraising, purchasing of medications and other clinic supplies, and coordination within the UW group. Faculty are available to provide guidance when needed.

Academics: Upon completion of the field experience, students will receive a 1-credit independent study (699) through the Emergency Medicine Department at UW.  Students must be in good academic standing in order to participate in this program. 

Faculty: James Svenson, MD, Kevin Wyne, PA-C, Karen Kopacek, RPh

Application: Deadline to apply for this program is January 15, 2020. Students will be notified of the outcome by January 31, 2020. The application can be found here.