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Guatemala Course Helps Undergraduates Connect With Global Health

Eligible students can learn about healthcare through an international lens

minute read.

Written by Bob Mook on August 5, 2022

“Any global health experience helps you realize the commonalities and differences in healthcare throughout the world,” says Shannon Pirrie, DNP, CNM, Specialty Director of the Nurse-Midwife program at CU College of Nursing. “It’s pretty eye-opening to see the work folks do in other countries with much less resources and education than we have.”

In 2016 and 2017, Pirrie participated in an educational fellowship at the Trifinio region of southwest Guatemala, where she trained nurses and birth attendants. She now characterizes the fellowship as an adventure that changed how she views healthcare from home and abroad.

“The biggest takeaway was that the similarities and the barriers we face in our work in Colorado and Trifinio are all pretty similar,” Pirrie says. “This program shows how we can break down some of those barriers.”

In 2023, undergraduate students at the University of Colorado College of Nursing will have an unprecedented and life-changing opportunity to take part in a community/population clinical health experience where they will partner with their Guatemalan colleagues in and around the Trifinio clinic.

About the course

During a two-week course, undergraduate students will experience the reality of caring for people in a low-resource setting. Whether abroad or in Colorado, this kind of clinical experience is required for students enrolled in the Traditional learning pathway who are scheduled to graduate in May of 2023. Travel dates for the course are Feb. 5-18 or April 2-15, 2023.

"We’re thrilled to offer this truly transformative learning experience for eligible students,” says CU Nursing Senior Instructor Pamela Prag, CNM, MS, MPH. “This course will change how you view healthcare in ways that can’t be replicated elsewhere.”

Prag will lead the course, joined by CU Nursing Assistant Professor of Clinical Teaching Jennifer Fisher, DNP, WHNP and Assistant Professor Jennifer Dailey-Vail, RN, WHNP-BC, DNP.

About the clinic

Located in the rural coastal lowlands near the border of Chiapas, Mexico, Trifinio is the poorest part of Guatemala, where more than 60% of children test positive for parasites because of unclean water and poor sanitation.

The Trifinio Center for Human Development serves the region’s healthcare needs. The site includes a birth center with two delivery rooms and a nursery. One of Trifinio’s largest employers is a banana plantation that funded the construction, maintenance and operation of the clinic.

In 2011, the Center entered a partnership with the CU Center for Global Health, which gives students and faculty a chance to learn and grow professionally while working alongside their Guatemalan colleagues and developing skills as a global citizen.

Though Global Health program took a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, this particular course is a new opportunity for undergraduates. CU College of Nursing recently assumed the management of a community/population health clinical experience as part of its Global Health Nursing programming.

Eligibility, costs

Any CU College of Nursing senior who is enrolled in the traditional BSN pathway and graduating in May 2023 is eligible to apply. Ten students for each block will be eligible to participate for this once-in-a-lifetime experience

Most workers and patients in the Trifinio clinic do not speak English, so basic Spanish comprehension is highly recommended.

The program fee is estimated at $1,950. However, the fee doesn’t cover air fare, some meals, personal expenses and visa fees. (Roundtrip airfare to Guatemala from Denver International Airport and back ranges from $360 to $700, according to a scan of online travel sites.)

Accommodations and most meals will be provided near the clinic -- giving students a sense of what it’s like to live in a vibrant agricultural community in Central America.

Eligible students may apply for the Global Education Scholarship linked in the application.

The application deadline for this course is Sept. 2, 2022. To apply or request information, visit the course homepage.

Learn more through this video and this brochure.


Guatemala for Graduates, Too!

From Jan. 7-21, 2023, eligible graduate students at CU College of Nursing will have the chance participate in a clinical immersive experience in Guatemala.

Participants will have a firsthand opportunity to provide care to patients across a wide and culturally diverse span of the population. Students will learn strategies to effectively advocate on behalf of patients, families, and underserved people to challenge policies that create health disparities. Experiences will occur in both urban and rural settings, providing a unique and robust perspective on health care in Guatemala.

The program is targeted for CU Nursing FNP, PNP, WHNP and nurse midwifery students, all with basic Spanish comprehension skills.

The course will be led by CU Nursing Professor of Clinical Teaching and Associate Dean of Clinical and Community Affairs Rosario Medina, PhD, PNP-BC, ACNP, CNS. FAANP. Medina will be joined by CU Nursing Senior Instructor of Clinical Faculty and Clinical Director of Primary Care & Pediatrics, Megan Champion, FNP.

Learn more about the program and request information on the CU Anschutz in Guatemala Clinical Immersion homepage.