If you're interested in traveling abroad as a health student, you've come to the right place. Past OHSU students' testimonials with costs, positives and negatives and contact info are listed by region and country. You can also find links to various organizations that help send students abroad to clinics, to conduct research and other volunteer opportunities. 

GHC Travel Scholarship awardees


Four thousand dollars, three girls, two months, one real-life lesson on the challenges of caring for patients abroad, med students Michelle Bar, Lindsay Braun & Hailey Allen.  See details of this experience in Tanzania.   View presentation


Latin America
Costa Rica
El Salvador

Mexico (4 experiences):

Trip #1 - Chiapas
Location: San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico
Length of Stay: 10days
How you paid for it: Savings, donations from friends and family
Organization name: Global Health Outreach
Organization contact info: www.cmdahome.org click on missions then on GHO
Type of experience: Inpatient operative urology experience with some clinic
Living arrangements: Hotel
Setting: size of city/town: 100,000 or more in the city but no urologists
Positives: operating
Negatives: need to be an MS3-4 and/or Spanish speaking to be most helpful, but anyone with willing hands is welcome
Other comments: This is a faith-based group of urologists

Trip #2 - Guanajuato
Location: Guanajuato, Mexico
Length of Stay: 6 weeks, 2 of vacation
How you paid for it: Student loans, $200 from international foundation
How much it cost: $50/week home stay, included 3 meals a day, $580 ticket (to and from different, small airports)
Was language required: Yes
Was a language school offered: Available in the community, I did not seek it out
Name of organization you went with: Me
Organization's contact info: Acquaintance of Dr. Jay Kravitz:
Dr. Jorge Hernandez Ariaga
Hospital General Regional de Leon
Secretaria de Salud
20 de Endero 927, col. Obregon
37320, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Type of experience: Referral hospital for the state of Guanajuato, I worked in the Pediatric hospital and spent a week in each of the 4 services, working as an intern for most, there were students in the neonatal unit, but not in any of the other services, ER/ICU, lactantes (<4yrs), and escolares (>4yrs)
Living arrangements: With the aunt of a medical student
Setting: size of city/town: 1 million people, very industrial, not pretty, but safe and friendly
Positives: Authentic experience of urban Mexico, tremendous exposure to hands on medicine, drawing labs (from newborns!!), ventilatory respiratory therapy, casting, reading x-rays, gastric lavage, NG/OG placement, catching babies, newborn examination, and lots of pathology, as this was the referral hospital--two cases of milliary TB, lupus in children, cerebral abcesses, funky infections, brucelosis, etc. Working as an intern was a great prep experience, as this was my last rotation in 4th year
Negatives: Dr. Hernandez vanished after introducing me to about 100 people at the medical school and hospital. The woman in charge of the residents at the pediatric hospital didn't even know I was coming, and was a bit difficult to work with. She wanted me to work like an intern, call (36 hrs, 7am-3pm) q 3 days. I had to really stand up for myself to work a more reasonable schedule, and Dr. Hernandez was not of much help with the communication piece. Once my schedule was set, 1 call night a week and free weekends, things got better from there
Other comments: If you have a solid Spanish base, this was an invaluable experience. It would have been easier to be on a service with students the whole month, but I had more hands on medicine with the interns. The teaching, however, was better with the students. Medicine there is very hierarchical, which was a bit difficult to get used to, but an interesting commentary on their much more formal society.

Trip #3 - MedSpanish
Name: Kandra Yee
Contact info: 503-319-3102
Destination country: Mexico
Length of Stay: 4 weeks
How you paid for it: Loan money
How much it cost:
-$400 airfare
-$1250 language course and clinical experience
-$600 living with host family and breakfast everyday
Was language required: No
Was a language school offered: Yes
Name of organization you went with: MedSpanish
Organization contact info: www.medspanish.com
Type of experience: -language classes daily, daily clinical experience, travel to small villages to deliver basic care,hospital experience possible depending on language competency
Living arrangements: anything possible (apartment, host family, rental, etc)
Setting: size of city/town: small (don't know exact number-info on website)
Positives: very laid back, can create your own experience, very cute town, easy to travel to/from
Negatives: may be too laid back for some

Peru (4 experiences):

Trip #1 - Lima Research
Name: Jennifer Ross
Contact info: rossje@ohsu.edu, (503) 621-7988
Destination country: Peru - Lima
Length of Stay: one-month
How you paid for it: $2000 Tartar Trust Fellowship (google Tartar Trust, or talk to Katie Riley in the MPH program). This is a private foundation that awards research grants only to OHSU students and faculty, but you must be an Oregon resident to be eligible. I also applied to the Infectious Disease Society of America summer scholarship program and the Ben Kean Fellowship at the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene – results pending.
How much it cost: $900 airfare, $450 room and board, plus medical insurance
Was language required: No, but helpful
Was a language school offered: I'm sure that there are language schools in Lima. I know that there is a popular program in Cuzco
Name of organization you went with: former colleagues from CDC
Organization contact info: Contact me, or look at the CDC Foundation's Hubert Scholarship http://cdcfoundation.org. The Peru site is the project that I work with. Hubert scholarships are available for 3rd and 4th years.
Type of experience: Epidemiology. I will be assessing risk factors for Giardia infection in kids based on data that have already been collected.
Living arrangements: House owned by the project.
Setting: size of city/town: Lima has 8 million people
Positives: There is a great group of students and researchers there. You can see diseases that you don't often see here. Life in Lima is relaxed, and there are great places to travel before or after your research.
Negatives: Lima itself is dry and dusty. Navigating the IRB process can be tricky, but the IRB people really are helpful. Work progresses more slowly in Peru due to logistical challenges.

Trip #2 - Lima Hospital
Name: Yolanda Evans
Destination: Lima
Length of Stay: 4 weeks
How you paid for it: Personal
Name of organization you went with: IFMSA
Organization contact info: Jessica Tang is the current president in Lima, Peru; see www.ifmsa-usa.org for links to other IFMSA groups
Type of experience: hospital
Living arrangements: host family
Setting:size of city/town: 7 million people
Positives: It was awesome. IFMSA is a well organized group that had set up for city tours as well as a great hospital experience. They have chapters all over the world, so opportunities are available everywhere.
Negatives: I wish I had a Spanish language immersion course while I was in Peru.

Trip #3 - Peru
Name: Jon Williams
Contact info: willijon@ohsu.edu
Length of Stay: 2 wks-8wks
How you paid for it: Worked
How much it cost: 2000-3000$
Was language required: No
Was a language school offered: No
Name of organization you went with: Hope Alliance
Organization contact info: www.hopealliance.com
Type of experience: clinic and hospital care
Living arrangements: Hotel
Setting: size of city/town: City of 250,000
Positives: Too many to list
Negatives: Short, pricey

Trip #4 - Peru
Name: Seth O'Neal
Contact info:
Length of stay: 1 year
How you paid for it: Out of pocket
How much it cost: $19,00 for the year. Travel expenses paid.
Name of organization you went with: Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Support Center
Organization contact info: http://www.aamc.org/students/medstudents/overseasfellowship/start.htm Application process:General application with essay/ letter of recommendation from US mentor and letter from Dean's office. Applicants are competively selected for interviews at the NIH (expenses paid).
Type of experience:
International clinical research
Living arrangements: Multiple sites available in different countries. Housing arrangements vary.
Positives: Excellent training in international clinical research. Mentored by faculty in both the US and abroad. Terrific support before/during/and after the year by Fogarty.

Ecuador (2 experiences):

Trip #1 - Quito Hospital
Name: Carrie Truitt
Contact info: truittc@ohsu.edu
Length of Stay: 5 weeks
How you paid for it: Out of pocket
How much it cost: $4,000
Was language required: Yes, minimum of 1yr or so of Spanish
Was a language school offered: Yes, it was part of the program
Name of organization you went with: AmeriSpan's Salud program--1/2 day language courses & 1/2 day in public hospital for 4 weeks, with 3 weekend trips outside Quito
Organization contact info: http://www.amerispan.com/salud_medical_spanish_programs/default.asp
Type of experience: Public hospital
Living arrangements: With local host family
Setting: size of city/town: Quito, Ecuador, 1.4 million people
Positives: Well organized, small class sizes (3-4/prof), great weekend trips
Negatives: Only 4 weeks (but you can stay later & travel on your own!), expensive, lots of pollution in Quito
Other comments: Quito is at a high altitude 9000ft, so it'll take some time to adjust

Trip #2 - Quito Mix
Name: Launa Dalros Gunderson
Contact info: dalrosl@ohsu.edu
Length of Stay: 4 weeks
How you paid for it: financial aid
How much it cost: $1750
Was language required: no
Was a language school offered: yes, 20 hours of private instruction
Name of organization you went with: Child & Family Health International
Organization contact info: http://www.cfhi.org
Type of experience: primary care, hospital, surgery, OB/GYN
Living arrangements: homestay
Setting: size of city/town: large metropolitan city, <1 million people
Positives: good exposure to new culture and medical practices, Spanish development, administration in Quito was very supportive and was very interested in helping you arrange your clinical experiences how you wanted them
Negatives: Four weeks was a little too long to live in Quito. Two weeks in Quito and 2 weeks in a smaller community would have been better. If you are interested in this type of set-up, CFHI might be willing to work with you.
Other comments: I thought about not studying abroad because of cost issues, but if you shop around you could find something cheaper. Regardless, it was VERY worth it. If you are even thinking about it in the slightest YOU SHOULD DO IT!! It's a wonderful life experience and the perfect opportunity to get away during the 4th year.

Costa Rica (2 experiences):
Trip #1 - San Jose community medicine
Name: Heather Turner
Contact info:
Length of Stay: 1 month
How much it cost: $650 dollars plus airfare plus any money for traveling on time off
Was language required: Yes, at least intermediate level Spanish
Was a language school offered: an hour a week of medical spanish tutoring
Name of organization you went with: International Health Central America Institute Foundation
Organization contact info: http://www.ihcai.org/programs.htm
Type of experience: community medicine
Living arrangements: with host family Setting: size of city/town: San Jose, Costa Rica-large town.

Argentina (1 experience):
Trip #1 - Clinic in Bariloche
Name: Angela Watkins
Length of Stay: 5 months, only 6 wks of clinical time
How you paid for it: savings and financial aid
Name of organization you went with: it wasn’t really an organization, a classmate just showed up at the hospital and asked if she could hang out with the pediatricians
Organization contact info: not really available
Type of experience: hospital peds and ob/gyn with once weekly neighborhood clinic time
Living arrangements: rented a house in Bariloche, Arg
Setting: size of city/town: 100,000
Positives: cultural exposure, time in small neighborhood clinics, argentina is an easy country to live in (not too unlike the US), very generous people, some time with residents
Negatives: mostly shadowing, language barrier.

Guatemala (1 experience):
Trip #1 - Pop Wuj
Name: Bronwyn Baz Waddell
Contact info: bronwynbaz@yahoo.com
Length of Stay: 1 month
How you paid for it: myself (although I've gotten funding from the Student Senate, Multicultural Affairs, Student Affairs, and AMWA for past trips to Brazil and Guatemala b/c research was involved)
How much it cost: $800 for four weeks of program (one-on-one Spanish instruction, four hrs/day, and room and board) plus airfare
Was language required: Yes, in order to start seeing pts right away it makes a big difference
Was a language school offered: yes
Name of organization you went with: Pop Wuj in Xela, Guatemala
Organization contact info:  www.pop-wuj.org
Type of experience: rural primary care clinic for indigenous children (in pueblo outside of Xela)
Living arrangements: with Spanish-speaking family
Setting: size of city/town: 120,000
Positives: interacting with pts, learning from unusual progression of pathology (d/t lack of access to care, poor nutrition and impure water), improvement of Spanish, making friends, getting to know Guatemalans, weekend trips to Mayan sites, volcanos, beach, hot springs
Negatives: exhausting (but worth it!), pollution, dust
Other comments: Go! I'd go again if I could...worth every penny

El Salvador (1 experience)

Trip #1 - Urban primary care
Name: Nicole Ahrenholz
Contact info: ahrenhol@ohsu.edu
Length of Stay: 2 weeks
How you paid for it: personal savings
How much it cost: $1500
Was language required: no, but helpful
Was a language school offered: no
Name of organization you went with: Christian Medical & Dental Association
Organization contact info: see website: cmdahome.org
Type of experience: primary care
Living arrangements: hotel (included in fees)
Setting: size of city/town: urban
Positives: great experience working with compassionate physicians from around the US, lots of hands-on experience, great teaching. The church in El Salvador hosting the project was extremely welcoming and hospitable. Along with the primary care clinic, there is also dentistry and optometry.
Negatives: Short (only 2 weeks)


Kenya (1 Experience): Internal Medicine *New Entry*
Name:Margaret Cronholm
Contact Info:
Destination: Kenya
Length of Stay: Fourth year rotation
How you paid for it: I used the residency application loan you can get fourth year to fund the trip.
Name of organization you went with: Through Indiana University
Organization contact info: They go at different times every year and you have to speak to the Residency director, Dr. Rosenburg about going on the program.
Type of experience: I think it is a great experience and I would be happy to talk to anyone interested in going. I believe the group is going in September this year. They go once a year and send an attending two residents and a student if there is one who wants to go.

Tanzania: *New Entry*
Name:Charles Kosydar
Contact Info:
Destination: Arusha, Tanzania
Length of Stay: For 10 weeks in the summer of 2002, before starting medical school.
How you paid for it: Myself, no external funding
How much it cost: Unlike most programs, there will be no program fee. Instead, the students will bring needed donations to the hospital valued at about $750. I have a list of items that would be most beneficial from the hospital that the students can donate.
Was language required:Clinical and surgical students can take Swahili in town. The medical staff is all fluent in English as all documentation is done in English.
Name of organization you went with: Arusha Public Hospital
Organization contact info: Contact for the program will be through me. I will send out an email to the first year class in March.
Type of experience: Working in a developing country's public hospital opened my eyes like no amount of information on international health ever could have.
Living arrangements: Set up myself. Information for the students will be provided on a good option for room and board.
Other comments: To select among interested OHSU medical students there will be a short essay and an informal interview.


Southeast Asia
Tonga (NZ)

Thailand (4 Experiences):-
Trip #1 - Thailand Research
Name:Paula Wichienkuer
Contact info: wichienk@ohsu.edu, paula.w@stanfordalumni.org
Destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Length of Stay: 3 months
How you paid for it: self
How much it cost: flight to Thailand, otherwise stayed with family who fed me
Was language required: yes (although English was OK)
Was a language school offered: no
Name of organization you went with: Worked at the Royal Project
Organization contact info:
Type of experience: research in sustainable development, self-made internship
Living arrangements: family
Setting: size of city/town: small city
Other comments: probably not interesting for us med-like people now, but I've got connections

Trip #2 - Public Health in Bangkok
Name:Paula Wichienkuer
Contact info: wichienk@ohsu.edu, paula.w@stanfordalumni.org
Destination: Bangkok, Thailand
Length of Stay: 3 months
How you paid for it: Tartar Trust Research Fellowship (open to all SOM students)
How much it cost:about $2000
Was language required: no, but it was a plus
Was a language school offered: no, but I could have found my own language teacher if I wanted to
Name of organization you went with:Worked at the Thailand Ministry of Public Health-U.S. Centers for Disease Control Collaboration, specifically the HIV/AIDS research division
Organization's contact info:
Type of experience: epidemiological research
Living arrangements: family
Setting: size of city/town: huge metropolis
Positives: being in Thailand and working with amazing MD-MPH types
Negatives: sitting in front of a desk all day

Trip #3 - Clinical / Internal Medicine in Bangkok *New Entry*
Name: Heidi Schneider
Contact info:
Destination: Bangkok, Thailand
Length of Stay: November, third year 2005
How you paid for it: Myself
How much it cost: Essay, application, $600, travel insurance
Name of organization you went with: Infinsa scope, Chula University
Living arrangements: Room and board were set up, depends on the progam, I had to set up transportation.

Trip #4 - Internal Medicine in Bangkok *New Entry*
Name: Janae Zolna McLane
Contact Info:
Destination: Bangkok, Thailand
Length of Stay: November elective during 3rd year
How you paid for it: My own pocket
How much it cost: $700
Name of organization you went with: IFMSA
Type of experience: Great teaching environment, good opportunity to learn more about the culture, lots of interaction with medical students there
Living arrangements: Nothing, everything was done for me

Tonga: Surgery *New Entry*
Name: Nicole Yonke
Contact Info:
Destination: Neiafu,Vava'u Tonga, Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital
Length of Stay: Dec. 2005, 3rd year winter elective
How you paid for it: My Visa, own funding
How much it cost: You don't have to give them money that I know of.
Was language required: Surgery is the best part because you don't have to speak Tongan. Otherwise you have to wait for the doctors to translate for you in clinic. All the docs speak English, they are all trained in Fiji or NZ. Charts are in English, but Pt interviews are in Tongan, although most people understand some English and lots speak well.
Name of organization you went with:
Type of experience: I signed up there, but to apply you need to write a letter to the hospital director. You need to be at least a 3rd year.
Living arrangements: I set it up.
Setting: It was clinical/surgical. All the doctors are GPs. They do clinic and surgery. I delivered babies by myself, helped with C sections, hernia repairs, BLK amputations, and lots of other little surgeries. Also traumas, if there are any. There is outpt urgent care clinic, Prenatal clinic, Lung/HTN/DM clinic one morning. There are medicine rounds every morning.
Other comments: Learning how a small hospital in a very remote place works, and at times doesn't work. Interesting public health concerns, importance of hospital admin (that doesn't exist), and fun surgeries.

India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Nepal: Clinical Research and Field Medicine *New Entry*
Name: Zachary Meyers
Contact Info:
Destination: Kathmandu
Length of Stay: MS4, October/November 2005
How you paid for it: Visa
Name of organization you went with: Nepal International Clinic in Travel and Mountain Medicine
Organization contact information: Medical Director of Nepal International Clinic in Travel and Mountain Medicine. Kathmandu, .
Type of experience: Learning new skills, meeting people, learning about a new culture, cultural immersion, treating locals with no other access to health care, doing clinical research, meeting international travelers from all over the world, trekking the Himalayas up to Mt Everest Base Camp.
Living arrangements: I arranged to Nepal and room/board in Kathmandu. It was generally arranged after that while we were in the Himalayas. I was responsible for all expenses.
Other comments: DO IT! It will be one of the most life changing experiences you have during med school and your entire life. It is exciting, challenging, and very educational experience. As a med student you are the doctor for many people without access to care otherwise. They count on you. Immersion in another culture helps one learn so much about the world, about medicine, about the limitations of medicine, about our own system and its limitations, and about yourself.