On July 12, 2012, eight CIEE participants who are enrolled in the “Spanish for Healthcare Professionals” course visited the main public hospital in Alcalá. Upon arrival, they met their medical supervisors for their ten-hour practical internship and coordinated their work hours and received their white coat (which students are required to wear while assisting medical staff).
After these introductions, the class started a supervised visit and got to know the four, eight-floor buildings, its different departments and some of the medical staff in charge. The students were accompanied by two professors from the Instituto Benjamin Franklin and a CIEE staff member -Eero Jesurun-. Overall, the hospital staff had a very positive reaction to meet US college science students again during Session 2. Many of them felt quite dignified to be able to show students the workings in their medical area, discuss changes in health care practices and identify some of their daily challenges.
In the neonatal section, CIEE students learned about the differences between the US and Spain in healthcare at birth. For example, the head nurse explained the policy on the Caesarean method in facilitating births and showing students the procedures that staff follows in such cases. Many students were surprised at the low incidence of c-sections in comparison to the high number of this similar method used in the US. Mar Martin, Professor of this course, asked students if they could think of the reasons for this difference. Similarly, Professor Martin also quizzed individual students if they remembered medical terms and Spanish vocabulary they learned in class and for the preparation of their internship.
The group visit requires a lot of coordination due to the busy nature of this medical facility. A hospital aid had to accompany students and make sure we found each department. She would contact the nurse or doctor via cell phone prior to arrival and ask if they were ready to greet us and show us around. Sometimes there was an emergency and they could not meet the group right away. Students got to see all the departments on the schedule and got to see first hand at what pace some sections have to function.
Other health topics that the group evaluated were focused on current policies and practices regarding breast feeding, blood donation, patient reanimation, parental rights, post-natal care, etc.
A hospital aid had to accompany the group, make sure we reached the right floor each department, contact the nurse or doctor via phone and ask if they were ready to greet us and show us around. Sometimes there was an emergency and they could not meet our students right away, so the hospital aid had to call via cell phone and coordinate to visit another department earlier than scheduled. In the end, CIEE students saw all the departments and experienced the fast pace of some hospital areas.
Students were placed in one-to-one internships with one CIEE student per doctor in the following areas:
2. Intensive Care Unit
8. Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)
Each student experience is varied as a lot depends on the patient in-takes and medical situations on their day of practice and observation. For instance, Brandon Kellinghaus from Indiana University commented after his first day in genealogy that: “I had an unbelievable day at the Hospital. I felt the head of three different babies while in utero, watched a cancer biopsy, and gave witness to the birth of a baby girl.”