By Lillian Solien Greer
Integrating into an organization like anything takes time. Although at EBAIS+ UNIBE, San Pedro, I found this to be easier than expected. If you speak the language and engage in conversation, the response from almost everyone is very positive. At the clinic, it is a tight knit community and the staff are very social.
At the EBAIS, I shadowed for many different professionals: the ATAPs, nutrition, pre-consultant nurses, the secretary for nurses and with the “enfermeras”. My favorite rotations were most likely with the ATAPs going house to house or assisting with the vaccination campaign.
A suggestion for interns is to communicate with all personnel in the clinic the level of Spanish the student has and medical experience. I would also suggest to the EBAIS they continue to ask for a written letter in Spanish from the intern explaining why they want to work there. And to continue to accept students who are proficient in Spanish, not necessarily fluent but those who have high comprehension levels, this way the student will learn much more from their time at the EBAIS.
In the future, I think it is very important to sit down with the intern and write out a loose schedule and guideline for their time there. I believe this would make it easier on the intern as well as the supervisor and all of the EBAIS because things would not be so last minute.
All in the clinic is very female dominated, which was a very nice environment for a young woman like myself. Working with the male ATAPs I felt very comfortable and welcome throughout my experience and would recommend an intern to be with one EBAIS for a whole week onetime to see how their days differ depending of the day of the week. Also the ATAPs I believed taught me most about how to take blood pressure and give vaccines and gave me more cultural understanding and awareness of “Tico” families and patients.
When it comes to medical topics, the communication style of the EBAIS was very direct; and when it came to other topics of importance, the organization used indirect methods of communication. Aside from this, the organization is very accommodating and culturally adaptable. All in all, I had a very positive experience at EBAIS-UNIBE and will cherish my new knowledge and relationships.
The two most integral things I learned from this internship were the importance of preventative medicine and the free community based approach in the Costa Rican public health care system. Preventative health care on a community level in my opinion is a reason why Costa Rica is becoming one of the countries with the healthiest population and best healthcare system. The foundation for this concept of community health is from one of the CAJA’s three values: solidarity. Investing in preventative medicine saves money in the long run on more expensive procedures and treatments; therefore, it is more economically sound. Community based prevention also decreases the spread of infectious diseases like the flu. Vaccinations hold so much power in disease reduction.
I believe from my observations that Costa Rican public health services understand the true meaning of comprehensive health care. Limited access to healthcare is a global issue and after observing how important basic health care is to these communities, I believe all countries should aspire to provide accessible primary care to all residents. Those who are blessed with good health care should be working to provide that same level of care to others for whom it is unattainable; Costa Rica is a good health model to learn from. Free, quality health care should be a right for all human beings, and unlike most hospitals and clinics worldwide; this concept is in-line with the EBAIS mission. My work at this EBAIS has shown me that my country has a lot to learn in terms of health care from countries like Costa Rica.
Thank you ICADS for this unforgettable experience!