The shortest duration allowed is four weeks, as we want all interns to be able to establish a relationship with the community in which they work. Case management of complicated patient cases is difficult with frequent turnover. The only exception is winter break, when a three-week internship is available from mid-December through early January. Internships during the summer are usually four weeks long, in order to accommodate as many people as we can due to the large volume of summer applications we receive. During the school year, internships may last as long as three months. Some interns have elected to take a quarter off from classes to gain practical experience in clinical and public health through our internship. Oftentimes they pursue a public health research topic of interest or join a community health initiative as their afternoon project. Internship dates are coordinated to ensure overlap between interns for training purposes.
Internships are available year-round. Year-time positions are much less competitive than summer-time positions, and we encourage students to consider taking a quarter or semester off from school to participate. The internship is a wonderful alternative to traditional study-abroad programs for those interested in obtaining practical clinical and public health experience. Through partnerships with other health initiatives on the island, you may participate in other shadowing or internship opportunities to supplement your experience with our program. We encourage medical students to think about pursuing the internship during time periods when most undergraduates are taking classes.
Due to space constraints in the clinic, only one internship position is available at a time. Interns will overlap for training purposes only. However, you are never alone! Interns live near the volunteer physicians and residents working in the clinic, riding to clinic with them in the mornings and sharing most dinners and evenings with them if they choose to do so. This is a great way for undergraduates and medical students, as aspiring physicians, to learn more about what their own lives hold in store for them five and ten years down the line.
Interns serve as Clinic Coordinators, ensuring clinic quality and efficiency. This job entails many duties, including triage (taking weight, height, and temperature measurements and screening patients for chief complaints), patient case management (getting other physicians involved and invested in the patients’ health outcomes, finding specialty appointments and medications for resource-poor families), and management of the patient database. Interns are involved directly in every clinic/patient interaction but will not provide direct medical care at any time. Roatán Public Hospital policy prohibits any unlicensed physician, including a medical student, from providing direct patient care.
Yes, it can. We have worked with medical students in the past to certify this internship as an elective rotation through their medical school. Medical students have found the variety of medical cases uncommon in the US (i.e. malaria, various parasitic infections, scabies) and the variety of medical perspectives gleaned from working with our volunteer American physicians and residents and Honduran physicians to be rewarding and informative. Please be careful to review our FAQ on direct patient care, as medical students seeking electives involving a high level of direct medical patient care may wish to pursue other internships.
Yes, it certainly can.
Definitely not! We have had student participants from many other schools. Graduated students are also welcome to apply, as student status at a university is not a requirement.
Estimated cost for a month-long internship: $1500-$2000. Cost breakdown: flight ($500-$800), housing ($500-$600), health coverage ($100-300), food, and transportation. Housing costs vary depending on the intern’s choice – most interns live in Sandy Bay with other medical volunteers. Many other options exist in tourist-friendly West End.
Food can range from $150+, depending on how much you cook and eat the cheaper “local” food versus eating out at restaurants in West End. Interns on a budget have been able to keep their month-long internship cost down to $1500.
Currently, no financial support is available for our student interns. If you are able to plan in advance, there are several funding options that you can explore. For instance, you can propose a research project and apply for a grant through your academic institution. Summer research and travel grants and small project grants are an excellent way to secure funding (i.e. Stanford’s Undergraduate Research Programs
and the Keck School of Medicine’s International Travel Grants). You can also inquire with local philanthropic organizations such as the Rotary Club in your hometown. Finally, another good way to generate support and raise awareness about your internship is to recruit individual sponsors who will pledge to donate set amounts for your trip. We are currently working to make the internship self-sustainable, but with a bit of effort, you can definitely make the internship financially viable.
This varies by length of stay, intern interest, and local initiatives currently underway. Interns have created their own projects, ranging from nutrition education to water source quality surveys. Other interns have joined forces with local groups, coordinating training sessions for community health volunteers and monitoring volunteers as they conduct household surveys and check-ins regarding health issues identified by the community as being of most concern. In one Spanish-speaking community of recent immigrants to the island from the mainland, health issues of most concern involve the health of children under 5 years old (i.e. diarrhea and dehydration, nutrition, vaccinations, infections). In another primarily islander community, health issues of most concern are hypertension and diabetes.
Many opportunities for health research exist on the island. Research for the RVPC could involve: more extensive patient demographics studies, diagnosis studies with respect to location on the island and/or with respect to season, analysis of patient access to the clinic (by location, by other demographics), quality assessment. Other public health research could be done in collaboration with the RVPC or other clinics and health outreach groups on the island.
Major health issues on the island include: diabetes and hypertension, child health (including diarrhea, dehydration, and nutrition), HIV/AIDS, asthma, parasitic infections, skin infections, upper respiratory infections. Both (a) needs assessments to inform future public health efforts and (b) quality assessments of current public health efforts would be helpful to many groups. Research proposals could be developed either before departure to Roatán or – particularly for shorter internships – the intern could spend the month collecting background information to inform a research proposal that could be carried out upon return to the island at a later date.
Upper respiratory infections, skin infections and impetigo, diarrhea and dehydration, malaria, asthma, parasitic infections. Newborn well-checks are quite common, as are daily check-ups for premature infants with slow weight gain.
Interns must have completed six quarters or four semesters of university coursework (rarely, three quarters/2 semesters may be accepted with sufficient community and public health background), be fluent in conversational Spanish (knowledge of medical Spanish is encouraged), and demonstrate a sincere interest in medicine and/or public health and a strong desire to help the local community in Roatán.
Interns will communicate with Spanish-speaking patients in a clinical setting and may be asked to interpret for English-speaking volunteer physicians. Thus, interns must be comfortable conversing in Spanish. Knowledge of medical Spanish vocabulary is very useful but may be studied in preparation for the trip if the intern has adequate conversational skills.
Answer: Interested applicants can read about the experiences of HEAL interns on the intern blog found at http://roataninterns.blogspot.com.