Elective for HCMC Medicine and Family Medicine Residents in Costa Rica
through the University of Medical Sciences UCIMED.
To provide the Resident the opportunity to experience a different medical
environment of a Socialized Health System in a country that has a unique
pathology due to its sub-tropical location.
1. To learn about Costa Rica’s health system in its city and /or rural
2. To expose the resident to a variety of diseases that could be found in a
country in a sub-tropical area, for example: Dengue, Malaria, Parasitic
Diseases and others.
3. Expose the resident to the management of complex pathologies with
4. To provide the resident, if applicable, with an opportunity to do research in
a different environment.
5. To develop or enhance the necessary skills in obtaining medical histories,
performing physical exams, producing the differential diagnosis and
treating patients in a Spanish speaking community.
6. To provide the opportunity, for those interested, of experiencing a unique
Preventive Medicine program in the city or in a rural community.
7. For those interested in Tropical Infectious Diseases we offer a
Parasitology Course which includes exposure and learning of a wide
variety of Parasitic Diseases and is vectors at the University’s
8. To improve the Spanish speaking skills.
9. To experience the social and cultural characteristics of the Costa Rican
community. Living with a Costa Rican family is encouraged and this
experience could be arranged. If interested in other accommodations like
an apartment, UCIMED, through its International Affairs Department, will
also assist in this matter.
1. Basic knowledge of the Spanish language - enough to be able to express
himself or herself and communicate with others. In Costa Rica a
significant proportion of the population speaks English and more so in the
2. Have the approval and authorization of the HCMC Internal Medicine
Department or Family Medicine Department to perform the elective.
Comply with the regulations and general rules of the hospitals and clinics
in Costa Rica where the resident will be assigned.
3. Comply with the academic objectives and goals of the specific rotation that
will be designed for each resident.
4. Be able to pay for the expenses incurred in the Elective which include:
housing and meals, cost of any of the courses offered, plane fares, etc.
Duration of the Elective:
The elective will be between four and six weeks. Weekends will be free.
Description of the elective:
1. The International Affairs Department thorough its Director Dr. Hernando
Gonzalez will be the general supervisor for each resident in Costa Rica.
2. There will be an Attending Physician of the specialty of the resident
who will be in charge of the academic aspects of the rotation. If possible,
there will be another local resident rotating in the same department who
could be available in case the HCMC resident has any questions or needs
3. A rotation at a local private downtown Hospital that takes care of a large
population of a middle class community is available. This rotation is very
well structured and recommended. Its Attending Physician is very active
in teaching and includes: topic reviews in Tropical Diseases, if interested
household visits for evaluation of preventive measures, evaluation of
4. A rural hospital experience could be available if requested under the
supervision of a rural community Attending Physician. This rotation is
clinical and includes the usual responsibilities of a resident in a ward:
daily rounding on patients, case presentations, review and presentation of
topics related to the care and management of patients, consultations for
other patients around the hospital, etc.
5. A rural community clinic experience is available under the supervision of
another Attending Physician. It includes walk-in patient evaluations, house
visits, school visits for health education and promotion, etc. This is a very
good site for a community based research projects.
6. A Tropical Dermatology rotation is available under the supervision of the
Director of the Dermatology Department at San Juan de Dios Hospital.
The largest downtown hospital in Costa Rica. This rotation includes a
morning clinic with evaluation of a wide variety of referral cases from
different sites in Costa Rica and Dermatology consultations around the
Hospital. This has been a popular rotation for previous foreign residents
and students, due to its diversity of Tropical Diseases and teaching. The
clinic runs until noon so there is an opportunity to take a Spanish course in
the afternoons or do voluntary work there or at other sites. There are
some centers in San Jose that offer Conversational Spanish courses
during the day or at night. If more information is requested, it could be
A well structured Medical Spanish interactive course is offered through the
International Health Central American Institute(IHCAI) an affiliated
institution to UCIMED. This Institute designed a special rotation in the
afternoons for the HCMC residents and students with a reasonable price
for more information see the addendum. For those interested in
improving their Medical Spanish for history taking, physical
examination and evaluation of Spanish speaking patients this course is
7. An SICU-Gastroenterology rotation is available at San Juan de Dios
Hospital with an attending at a Surgical Intermediate Care Unit and Dr.
Hernando Gonzalez in the Gastroenterology Department. This rotation
includes rounding on patients in the Intermediate Care Unit in the morning
and doing Internal Medicine Consultations at the Surgery Wards. In the
afternoons a General Gastroenterology consult on Mondays and a Liver
Clinic on Fridays, rounding in GI and Internal Medicine patients in the
afternoons as well as GI Consultations. This rotation will expose the
Resident to many patients with a variety of diseases. The Liver Clinic has
many patients with NASH and Wilson´s Disease which is highly prevalent
in some areas in Costa Rica.
8. A Pediatrics-ID rotation is available for the Family Medicine Residents.
This rotation is done at the National Children’s Hospital, the largest
referral downtown Pediatric Hospital in Costa Rica. This is a well known
center in Central America for its quality and excellent care. The ID
Department is well organized and structured and is a good learning
environment. Other rotations for the Family Medicine Residents in
Pediatrics at the National Children’s Hospital that could be arranged
without a problem include: General Pediatrics in a Ward, Neonatology and
Cardiology. If there is a specific interest in any of the Pediatric
Financial Description of the Rotation:
1. UCIMED, will not charge for any expense incurred in designing and
implementing the rotation for the HCMC residents. UCIMED will charge a
standard fee in order to pay the specific Doctors or other personnel
involved in teaching specific elective courses.
2. UCIMED is working in an agreement with the Socialized System in Costa
Rica to be able to bring foreign residents to their Hospitals . There may be
a $200 to $300 fee that the Social System will charge per resident rotation
once this agreement is in place. If this agreement is not finalized by the
time the resident is going to start the rotation, the resident will be
considered a senior student of the University(UCIMED). He/she will be
included in the list of senior students that perform rotations at the
Socialized System for which UCIMED pays a malpractice insurance. The
status of the resident will not change due to the fact that he or she will be
assigned the same duties and responsibilities of a resident practicing in
The living expenses will need to be covered by the resident.
1. There are local families that offer housing for approximately $400
per month that include a private room with a desk and lamp to
study. Breakfast and dinner is included in this price and sometimes
laundry. This option is recommended for the cultural, social and
2. Other facilities could be arranged upon request like
hotels,apartment, private independent facilities attached to a local
family house, etc. UCIMED offers to make the housing
arrangements for the residents or provide assistance in this matter.
Evaluations of the residents’ performance.
1. The HCMC evaluation forms will be used by the attending doctors
in Costa Rica.
2. If the resident was involved in a research project it would be
evaluated by the supervising doctor from HCMC and UCIMED.
Legal Implications of the elective rotation.
1. The fact that foreign residents will be taking care of Costa Rican patients
will have legal implications. The resident will be considered a senior
student until the Socialized System/UCIMED agreement is in place.
UCIMED provides Malpractice Coverage for their students through a
Government affiliated Insurance Company. The fact that UCIMED
provides an active and ongoing residency program in Dermatology which
was approved by the National Educational Costa Rican Committee implies
that this coverage needs to be expanded to the resident’s educational
level in the near future.
Courses Available (if possible at least two
students per course)
1. Introductory Course to the Socialized Medical System in Costa Rica
Tropical Dermatology and Parasitological Topics of Interest.
Day 1: 1- Welcome of the students participating in the program.
2- Expectations and responsibilities of the attending participants.
3- General Information and brief history of UCIMED. Tour of UCIMED
campus and benefits for the participants.
4- The National Health System in Costa Rica.
5- General Health Statistics and Indexes in Costa Rica.
6- The Emergency Medical System in Costa Rica.
7- Lunch (covered by the student) at UCIMED cafeteria.
8- City Tour and general orientation for the students.
Day 2: 1- Emerging infections in Costa Rica:
1- Immigration and Health in Costa Rica.
2- Lunch per student at UCIMED cafeteria.
3- Café Britt Coffee tour
Day 3: 1- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory.
2- Lunch per student at UCIMED cafeteria.
3- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory
Day 4: 4- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory.
5- Lunch per student at UCIMED cafeteria.
6- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory
Day 5: 7- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory.
8- Lunch per student at UCIMED cafeteria.
4- Tropical Parasitology Course at Dr. Misael Chinchilla´s Laboratory
2. A more comprehensive Tropical Dermatology Course is provided with
classes every morning from 11:00 am until 12:00 noon. The topics
1-Epidemiology and ecology of skin in the tropics
Bacterial infections of the skin
Impetigo and Erysipelas
Folliculitis, folliculitis cheloidailis
Furuncle (boi) and
Periporitis staphylogenes and
Tuberculosis of the skin
2-Superficial fungal infections
Deep fungus infections
3-Dermatoses caused by parasites
Larva migrans (creeping eruption)
Dermatoses caused by arthropods
Other common skin deseases
Dermatitis cenicienta (erythema discromic perstans)
Basal cell carcinoma
3. Medical Spanish Course trough the International Health Central American
Institute (IHCAI). See the other document attached for a comprehensive
description of the course.
Estimated Costs of the Elective
Estimated costs of the
Air fare round trip $850
Tropical Dermatology Course $350
Introductory Course to the Socialized Medical System in Costa Rica
Tropical Dermatology and Parasitological Topics of Interest.
Medical Spanish Course through IHCAI $650
Room and board and other expenses for 4 to 6 weeks approximately $1200