GPSA for Health’s Xela program is an intensive experience for high school students and high school graduates with a passion for career paths such as medical doctor (MD), nurse (RN, LPN), pharmacist, biomedical engineer (BME), dentist or other health occupations. The students’ GPSA experience begins in their arrival city: Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA airport). Shortly after their arrival, the students will travel as a group, including GPSA staff, to Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela. Though Xela is the center of activity for the program, students live GPSA staff in groups of five or six with a host family in villages outside of Xela. Living with a host family creates a perfect atmosphere to practice Spanish and learn and experience the Guatemalan culture. For their clinical service, students are divided into teams led by trained college graduates (premeds from Duke, Johns Hopkins or similar universities) or faculty. Students learn to facilitate several medical interventions and screenings (how to measure infant height and weight, how to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, heart rate, etc.) and complete an important introductory cultural and language training. The language training is intense (two hours, one-on-one per day) and focused on Spanish. Fluent Spanish speakers will study one of the local Mayan languages.
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