Casa-Nica currently has a volunteer and intern program working with the municipal health authority in Masaya, Nicaragua. We are currently working in two location:; the Centro de Salud
clinic and the Humberto Alvarado Hospital. Both locations offer free medical
service to Nicaraguans and generally have a lot of patients and always welcome any help that you can offer as they are understaffed and overworked. They see different and varied health problems so working in both places will provide you a wide range of experience and new skills.
As a volunteer or intern you will be working directly with the doctors and staff at the medical facilities. Your role will be to support the medical staff in their daily duties. This can happen through the observation, assisting or even completion of various medical procedures.
These procedures are usually conducted by the doctor so when you take these from the doctor you will ease the workload of the doctors enabling them to give a more thorough patient exam and see more patients. While we do this, the doctors take time to teach us about what they are doing, what they are seeing, and what they are prescribing. In essence, we are taking a large load of work off their shoulders so they can be a bit more thorough in their exams with
patients and can tend to other things.
However, If you are a fully trained doctor and speak good Spanish you will even be given your own patient load if you would like it.The first place we work is the Centro de Salud in Masaya, the first stage of medical care for those living in Masaya. Patients come in with a range of non-life-threatening problems, from respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, chronic health problems (such as diabetes or hypertension), and for maternity health check-ups. We work directly with the attending doctors there, acting as their nurses providing the initial examination recording height, weight, blood pressure etc. As The doctors gain confidence in with the volunteers, they will start to feel comfortable letting us do more advanced procedures. This includes taking vitals (height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc.), writing out prescriptions, listening to lungs for any abnormalities, measuring the size of the uterus of a pregnant mother, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. There are many doctors in the clinic, so the option is open to find one, or several who you like best, and work with them. It is very interesting to see the different styles of doctoring of each doctor and learn something new from each. While you are working with the doctors they always take time to teach you about what they are doing, what they are seeing, and what they are prescribing. You will help them immensely by taking a large load of work off their shoulders so they can be a bit more thorough in their exams with patients and can tend to other things.The second place we work is the public hospital in Masaya, specifically in the emergency room. Here you will see an even wider range of medical issues that are far more serious than at the Centro de Salud. Your daily tasks will include taking vitals for patients who want to be seen by a doctor, similar to what we do at the Centro de Salud. However, at the hospital the doctors allow us to do much more in terms of practical medical procedures. We watch all kinds of emergency procedures such as catheterization, wound suturing, casting, and IV medication. But, more interestingly, they will allow you to perform certain minor procedures, such as stitches and dressing a wound. This enables you to have a very hands-on learning experience that would be hard to find in this kind of setting elsewhere. You will also have the opportunity to see various other procedures such as surgeries and births, timing and luck permitting of course. The hospital allows a very hands-on practical introduction to life working in a hospital in which you will constantly see and learn about new things.
Aside from the hands-on, we get a very good look at what life as a doctor could be in a variety of settings from general and family practice to surgery and emergency. For a premed looking to explore the world of medicine before applying to medical school it would provide very interesting insight.
A basic level of Spanish is required as a higher level of Spanish allows for more communication between volunteers and medical staff as the doctors and staff do not speak English. Also, volunteers should also have an open mind and feel comfortable in the medicalsetting.
Both the Centro de Salud and the hospital operate a morning and evening shift system so it is possible to work in both locations in a single day or concentrate your time on the location which you prefer.
If you are a doctor looking to assist in a developing country municipal medical this is an outstanding opportunity. For a premed looking to explore the world of medicine before applying to medical school it would provide very interesting and insight and invaluable experience.Requirements:Equipment:
There are no spares of these in the hospital so you will need to bring your own. Language: You should be able to speak a basic conversational Spanish as everything will be conducted in Spanish. Practicing medical Spanish e.g. body parts etc, would be an excellent preparation.Medical Skills: You will not be required to have medical skills, at least at the beginning, other than measuring height and weight, taking blood pressure and taking a pulse rate. However, you will learn and have the opportunity to practice more as you gain experience and the confidence of the doctors.
- blood pressure
- Pen light
- Comfortable closed toed shoes.