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Premed / Prehealth Study Abroad:
Learn Spanish and Shadow Doctors in South America
Opportunity for qualified premed / prehealth students to join us for Spanish classes, volunteering, and medical shadowing in Chile and Argentina
Now accepting applications for 2021 or 2022 programs...

Spanish & Medicine features (clockwise from top left) small group Spanish classes, medical shadowing, cultural activities, volunteering.

"Did You Know the USA Has More Spanish Speakers than Spain?"
(Only Mexico has more.)
The language gap crisis in American healthcare is not going away.
Will today's students be part of the solution?
Spanish & Medicine Study Abroad is carefully designed to help future healthcare professionals succeed in America's demographic realities.
Through language training, medical shadowing, and group activities, we prepare you to treat your future Spanish-speaking patients safely in their own language and with cultural empathy.
Here's what you will get:
  • Massive Spanish Gains  Micro-group classes plus a "360 degrees of Spanish" environment get you fluent quickly (even without additional studying)
  • College Credit  Earn a transcript for up to three semester courses to apply toward your current degree or to save for graduate school
  • Medical Shadowing Experience  Clinical exposure in real South American clinics and hospitals to help you pick up field-specific language plus develop Latin cultural empathy
  • Multi-Country Adventure  The six-week program spans two countries for cultural variety and so you can build a "flexible ear" for adapting to different accents
Spanish classes, cultural activities, and medical shadowing
Language Gap Crisis in American Healthcare?
Authorities from around the country speak to the shortage of Spanish-speaking professionals to meet the needs of America’s demographic realities
Language barriers are associated with lower patient comprehension, satisfaction, and trust in physicians, and often, worse clinical outcomes...Patients want a physician who speaks their language well enough to supply excellent care.
National Institute of Health
About one-third of the hospital's patients speak Spanish as a first language.
Dr. Mark Pecker, NewYork Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center
Lower quality of health care and worse health outcomes are more likely when language barriers exist between patients and provide.
US National Library of Medicine
With all the demands on doctors — we only have about 15 minutes with a patient — to not have to take the extra step of a phone translation is huge.
Dr. Gloria Sanchez, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
We could look upon physicians' learning of Spanish as a type of medical intervention. As with any sound medical tool, it is designed to positively affect as many patients as possible with minimal investment of resources.
AMA Journal of Ethics, from "Should All U.S. Physicians Speak Spanish?"
The schedules of physicians fluent in Spanish are always full as opposed to the doctors who only speak English.

Many patients find it awkward to communicate through a translator... They are embarrassed and scared. They don't want to be a bother.
Dr. Asma Jafri, Riverside County Regional Medical Center, Moreno Valley, CA
Many medical centers recognize the need for bilingual doctors. The fallout from language barriers between doctors and patients sometimes leads to patients getting the wrong diagnosis, treatments or medications.
Dr. Joseph Tucker, Harvard Medical School
There is a chronic shortage of American healthcare professionals that Speak Spanish.
The reality is, if you can't communicate with a patient, you can't provide care. It shouldn't be an add-on. It should be a required part of providing high-quality health care.
Mara Youdelman, National Health Law Program
Doctors must face today’s demographic realities. A Spanish-speaking doctor fills a critical nationwide gap.
American Medical Association Journal of Ethics
We know from extensive literature that language barriers affect access to care, health status, use of health services, patient/physician communication, satisfaction with care, quality and safety—it really spans the spectrum in terms of the impact.
Glenn Flores, Medical Research Institute in Minneapolis
Communication barriers can have serious consequences for health, including misdiagnosis, inappropriate medication, and mistrust.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Working in Washington Heights and going to Columbia, you need to speak Spanish.
Dr. Christopher Kellner, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Miscommunication is a huge safety risk. As the number of Spanish-speaking patients increase, hospitals and health systems need to address language barriers to ensure that medical errors and Never Events do not result.
AMN Healthcare Education Services
Spanish Speakers by Country*
*millions (Source: Spanish Language Domains)
Fastest Latino Population Growth
(Source: Babbel Magazine)
Most Common Native Languages*
*millions (Source: Babbel Magazine)
Most Spanish Speakers by State
(Source: American Community Survey)
Students get briefed for their shadowing placements
Do You Qualify?
The program is for premed/prehealth students who:
  • Will have completed at least one year of college studies before the start date
  • Have a genuine desire to treat your future Spanish-speaking patients in their own language, safely and with empathy
  • Are able to spend time far from home and away from your friends and family
  • ​Can adapt to new groups of people and unfamiliar cultural situations
Program at a Glance...

Hybrid of traditional study abroad plus pre-departure online material and post-program lessons

  • (pre-departure)  Trip Readiness  Checklist review of travel needs and preparedness.  What to bring, necessary documentation, health concerns.  Time commitment: 3 hours
  • ​(pre-departure) Latin American Empathy & Cultural Awareness  Latin American culture and influences in USA, immigrant personal stories & debunking common misconceptions, Latin American heath care systems  Time commitment:  12 hours
  • Spanish Immersion Three of Beginning Spanish I, Beginning Spanish II, Intermediate Spanish I, Intermediate Spanish II, Advanced Spanish I, Advanced Spanish II, Spanish Mastery I, Spanish Mastery II, Special Topic(s).  
  • Medical Shadowing Eight AACP-compliant observational shadowing rotations at South American private clinics and/or public hospitals.  
Certificate & Transcript

Upon successful program completion students receive:

  • Spanish & Medicine Certificate  Details entire program.  Electronically verifiable (ready for LinkedIn and graduate school applications)
  • University Transcript  Credit for three semester-equivalent Spanish courses.  May be applied toward undergrad degree (check with your school), graduate studies, or as a stand-alone credential
Main Components
Medical Shadowing
The medical shadowing rotations are designed to give you exposure to real-world Spanish in healthcare situations AND to help develop your empathy for Latino cultures:
  • AAMC-Compliant All shadowing meets standards established by the AAMC.  Students observe interactions with patients but are not permitted to touch patients.
  • One or Several Disciplines  You have the opportunity to stick to one healthcare specialty or sample different areas.  Students work with a Spanish & Medicine advisor to customize schedules.
  • Real-World Spanish  Actual conversations with actual patients let you absorb the language in a "not watered down" scenario so you get comfortable out of the classroom
  • Make Do With Less  The clinics are often short on resources so you will see how they provide excellent care despite lacking what many American hospitals consider essential 
  • Personal Statement Material  Be sure to keep a journal so you can recall your experience in South American clinics for your essays on job and graduate applications.
Shadowing healthcare professionals in South America
Spanish Immersion 
Most students find the Spanish immersion experience very different (and more effective) than prior classes in high school or college:
  • Extra Small Classes A maximum of 7 students gives you an optimal learning environment - large enough to keep things interesting, but small enough for individual attention
  • Easy to Participate  The comfortable setting (like going to a cafe with friends) facilitates conversation, even for students that don't usually raise their hands
  • Extra Online Lessons  Your program includes follow-up online lessons to work on any individual needs and to ensure your language skills stay sharp
  • No Juggling of Classes  Your only academic class will be Spanish, so your mind will not need to waste energy switching topics several times each day
  • 360 Degrees of Spanish  The "Spanish everywhere" environment keeps you motivated since you get to try out your new language skills the very same day you learn them
  • College Credit  Get college transcript for up to three Spanish courses.
Unlike most high school and college classes, our small groups finally give you the practice you need to get fluent.
Program Locations


Widely considered the most developed country in Latin America, Chile has easily accessible mountains and coast.


Buenos Aires is often called the "Paris of Latin America" and the country is full of passion for futbol, tango, and nightlife. 
Los Estudiantes
"How was your Spanish & Medicine experience?"
Project Mission
Core Values of Spanish & Medicine Study Abroad 
We believe...
  • It is more practical for one (relatively privileged) student to learn Spanish than for his or her hundreds of future patients to learn English
  • ​Treating immigrants in their own language helps them feel like a welcome member of the community, rather than an "invisible outsider" 
  • ​Immersion gets nearly everyone fluent much more quickly (and more enjoyably) than normal college and high school classes, even if you study much less
  • ​Shadowing doctors in Latin American countries gives you a cultural understanding not available at home
  • ​"Why should I learn Spanish?  They should learn English" is not a realistic solution for many struggling immigrants who often work two jobs while raising a family

Meet the Program Director

"I am so proud of the students who choose to leave the comforts of home behind to spend part of their summer vacation with us.
While they also have a lot of fun and make new friends, let’s not forget the sacrifices they make to be away from their support networks only to be surrounded by people of a foreign culture and language.
As a first-hand observer of their personal growth, I can say with absolute confidence that they are taking a big step toward becoming leaders in their future healthcare communities.”
- Patricia Silva
Spanish & Medicine 
2021 or 2022
Chile - Argentina

(each session has a strict limit of 25 students.)

Summer 2021-A May 23 - July 3 (at capacity)
Summer 2021-B June 20 - July 31
Summer 2021-C July 18 - Aug 28
Exact 2022 dates TBD.

Program Tuition (Spanish PLUS Shadowing):

3 Weeks
1 Online Course
1 In-Country Course

6 Weeks
1 Online Course
2 In-Country Courses
$7,990 $6,790 (Early Bird tuition) 

Tuition includes Spanish courses, Latin American Culture, transcript, certificate, healthcare program (shadowing, volunteer, research), and some activities. Housing and travel are NOT included.


Contact Us  Get in touch with a program advisor
Student Spotlights  Video reviews and post-experience interviews
Copyright 2020 Spanish & Medicine
One country
  • Two Weeks Abroad
  • 1 Spanish Course
  • Medical Shadowing, Volunteer, Research
  • Chile
  • Certificate & Transcript
  • Alumni Club
  • Tuition: $3,990
two countries
Chile + Argentina
  • Four Weeks Abroad
  • 2 Spanish Courses
  • Medical Shadowing, Volunteer, Research
  • Chile, Argentina
  • Certificate & Transcript
  • Alumni Club
  • Tuition: $5,990
three countries
Chile + Argentina + Peru
  • Six Weeks Abroad
  • 3 Spanish Courses
  • Medical Shadowing, Volunteer, Research
  • Chile, Argentina, Peru
  • Certificate & Transcript
  • Alumni Club
  • Tuition: $7,990