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Medical Spanish

Over the past 17 years ISLS has developed one of the most innovative and intensive Medical Spanish programs in all of Latin America. We were actually the first Immersion Spanish Institute in the world to offer Medical Spanish. In 1996 we worked closely with Dr. Harold Drayton at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to set up an immersion program for his medical students. Since then we have continued to improve and refine our program. We have also introduced some new and more intensive Medical Rotation options to our catalog.

We now offer three Super-Intensive Private Medical Spanish Programs at our Arenal location.

  • Private Medical Spanish Program
  • 10 & 10 Private Spanish & Rotation
  • Private Medical Rotation (20 hrs/week)

These programs are in addition to our Standard Medical Spanish Program.

In Costa Rica we have three locations where we do our Medical Spanish Immersion Programs; Arenal, Playa Dominical and Turrialba. Students participating in the Medical program will receive specific training in class with medical terminology, patient interviews and anatomy as well as out of class volunteer opportunities and the chance to observe the Costa Rican medical system.

The foundation of our Medical Spanish Program is our Standard Group Program. Each morning, Monday through Friday, students will attend four hours of small group classes. Students are split up into classes of different levels of ability by oral and written evaluations, given on the first day of the program. It is through these classes that students gain a full and deep understanding of how to speak and understand spoken Spanish.

It is on top of this base that we add four additional hours a week of medical specific classes. These hours are dedicated to teaching students specific medical vocabulary as well as practicing with real life medical situations such as patient interviews and family consultations. With medical specific text and materials along with exercises and classroom activities students will gain an understanding of how to deal with patients in everyday situations.

The classroom experience is also backed up by weekly afternoon visits with local doctors, nurses and other Costa Rican medical professionals. Depending upon location, students will have the opportunity to visit local public and private clinics, hospitals and orphanages. In both Turrialba and Playa Dominical, students will also be able to participate in a comprehensive community medical outreach program. This program helps track the changing health issues of a select group of local patient, over an extended period of time.

We believe this combined approach of in class exercises and training along with out of classes exposure to real medical situations and volunteer opportunities is the best learning approach. All of this is in addition to the immersion of living in a Spanish speaking country.

Over the years many doctors, nurses, medical students, paramedics and emergency technicians have attended this program with a great degree of success. Numerous medical schools through out the US accept this program for credit and recommend it to their students.

The following are just some of the Medical Schools that have accepted this course as a Study Abroad Elective for their students.

  • University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
  • University of Texas Medical School in Galveston
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas
  • New Jersey Medical School
  • NYU’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University Medical School
  • University of Tennessee Medical School
  • NYU School of Medicine
  • Temple University School of Medicine
  • Vanderbilt School of Medicine
  • University of Virginia School of Medicine

Below you will find the program description and course outlines for each of our three campuses with the Medical program in Costa Rica (Arenal, Playa Dominical & Turrialba). The cost of the Medical Spanish Program depends upon location and number of weeks. For complete program costs, please check out our price page. If you have any questions about these programs please feel free to contact us at any time. We very much look forward to hearing from you.


Medical Spanish program, Arenal

Contact: Dr. Sergio Arias Bonilla
Location: Clinica Sanar Consultores, La Fortuna, Costa Rica. This clinic is located in the center of town.

Program Overview

This Medical Spanish program was developed to help Medical professionals and students improve their knowledge of Spanish as it pertains to their profession. By combining in class exercises, specialized vocabulary and homework with medical volunteer opportunities in local clinics and hospitals, we believe this is the most comprehensive program of its kind. Every day students will be given specific vocabulary to study as well as in class participation which will reinforce those new words and terms. In this program students will spend one afternoon visiting local clinics and other medical facilities. Most weeks there will also be other activities such as visiting local families in the Fortuna area and conducting medical interviews with the family members. Students wishing to do the Medical Spanish program must be enrolled in classes for a minimum of two weeks.

Duties/Responsibilities

There are six different extracurricular activities specifically designed for the Arenal Medical Program.

  1. Visit to local families that are affiliated with the school to do patient interviews.
  2. Medical Seminars with Dr. Arias dealing with the types of diseases common to Latin Americans living in the US.
  3. Visits to Clinica Sanar Consultores to observer patient interviews and learn about the private medical system in Costa Rica.
  4. Visits to the Clinica Ebais de Los Angeles to observe patient interviews, meet with local doctors and learn about the public medical system in Costa Rica.
  5. Visits to the Hogar de Ninos Paniamor orphanage to participate in an ongoing developmental study of the health and fitness of the children.
  6. Visits to the Senior Citizen’s home Grupo Adulto Mayar where students learn about the diseases, causes and treatments that afflict the elderly.

Not all activities are available every week and some are only done once a month. Students will have a chance to participate in many of them and if they stay as long as four weeks in the program they will have an opportunity to do all of them.

Classroom curriculum for Medical Spanish

ISLS has a specific medical curriculum that will be handed out to all students on the program. All students on the Medical Spanish program will be given daily vocabulary and activities designed specifically to deal with medical terminology and situations. Students will also have additional homework assignments that will help reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom as well as during the visits to the hospital and exchanges with local medical professionals.

We ask that students signing up for the Medical Spanish program give us their area of specialty so that when possible we can match them up with a Costa Rican medical professional of the same field. Medical Spanish students need to bring a nice change of cloths for when they visit the hospital. They need to bring some identification with them as well as a white overcoat that they can wear while doing rounds. We would also ask that you bring down any English language medical posters, brochures or pamphlets that might help in the exchange with their Costa Rican counterparts.

Medical Spanish program, Playa Dominical

Contact: Dr. Natalia Solano and Dr. Gozalez (Private Clinic)
Location: 13 kilometros carretera a Dominical, frente a la escuela José María Chavarri Picado.
Address: Platanillo de Perez Zeledon

Program Overview

This Medical Spanish program was developed to help Medical professionals and students improve their knowledge of Spanish as it pertains to their profession. By combining in-class exercises, specialized vocabulary and homework with medical volunteer opportunities in local clinics and hospitals, we believe this is the most comprehensive program of its kind. Everyday, students will be given specific vocabulary to study as well as in class participation, which will reinforce those new words and terms. In this program students will spend an hour visiting the clinic. Students wishing to do the Medical Spanish program must be enrolled in classes for a minimum of two weeks.

Duties/Responsibilities

Once a week, students on the Medical Spanish program will visit either the local clinic in Dominical, or one of the closest clinics (Platanillo). Students will primarily be asked to observe during appointments and patient evaluations. Students will also have a chance to participate in a community medical outreach program where local medical professionals help the townspeople deal with common diseases, maladies, preventive medicine, and first aid. ISLS’s Dominical campus also offers extracurricular activities including the following:

  1. Visit to local families which are affiliated with the school to do patient interviews.
  2. Medical talks with the local Doctor about different medical areas.
  3. An opportunity to be involved in free medical consultations supervised by the local medical professional.
  4. Visit to the medical plant farm.

Classroom curriculum for Medical Spanish

ISLS has a specific medical curriculum that will be handed out to all students on the program. All students on the Medical Spanish program will be given daily vocabulary and activities designed specifically to deal with medical terminology and situations. Students will also have additional homework assignments that will help reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom as well as during the visits to the hospital and exchanges with local medical professionals.

Medical Spanish students need to bring a nice change of clothes for when they visit the hospital. They need to bring some identification with them, as well as a white overcoat that they can wear while doing rounds. We would also ask that you bring down any English language medical posters, brochures or pamphlets that might help in the exchange with their Costa Rican counterparts.

Medical Spanish program, Turrialba

Contact: Dr. Dr. Roberto Ulloa.
Location: Hospital William Allen Turrialba, Costa Rica about 15 minutes outside of the centers main
Address: Turrialba central

Program Overview

This Medical Spanish program was developed to help Medical professionals and students improve their knowledge of Spanish as it pertains to their profession. By combining in class exercises, specialized vocabulary and homework with medical volunteer opportunities in local clinics and hospitals, we believe this is the most comprehensive program of its kind.

Every day students will be given specific vocabulary to study as well as in class participation which will reinforce those new words and terms. In this program students will spend one afternoon visiting the local hospital or clinic. Most weeks there will also be other activities such as, morning sessions of a community outreach program and evening meetings with a Costa Rican medical professional for a language exchange. Students wishing to do the Medical Spanish program must be enrolled in classes for a minimum of two weeks.

Duties/Responsibilities

Two times a week, students on the Medical Spanish program will visit either the main Turrialba hospital or one of the local clinics. Students will primarily be asked to observe during appointments and patient evaluations.

Students will also have a chance to participate in a community medical outreach program where local medical professionals help the townspeople deal with common diseases, maladies and preventive medicine. Students will also interact with Costa Rican medical professionals one evening a week in which they will provide English conversation lessons.

Classroom curriculum for Medical Spanish

ISLS has a specific medical curriculum that will be handed out to all students on the program. All students on the Medical Spanish program will be given daily vocabulary and activities designed specifically to deal with medical terminology and situations. Students will also have additional homework assignments that will help reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom as well as during the visits to the hospital and exchanges with local medical professionals.

We ask that students signing up for the Medical Spanish program give them their area of specialty so that they can match them up with a Costa Rican medical professional of the same field. Medical Spanish students need to bring a nice change of clothes for when they visit the hospital. They need to bring some identification with them as well as a white overcoat that they can wear while doing rounds. We would also ask that you bring down any English language medical posters, brochures or pamphlets that might help in the exchange with their Costa Rican counterparts.

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