Medical Internship in Puerto Lopez (Ecuador)
(Note: Please excuse us for any grammar or spelling mistake since this document is prepared by our local coordinators in Ecuador and English is not their native language.)
The program takes place in Puerto Lopez and the surrounding communities on the coast. Puerto Lopez is a connection point in this region for transportation as well as the headquarters for Machalilla National Park, which is the second biggest marine reserve in Ecuador after Galapagos Islands.
From here, you can also visit La Plata Island or “Poor Man’s Galapagos” due to its similar wildlife or see the Humpback whales when it is season for their visit. There are approximately 16,000 inhabitants in Puerto Lopez.
The clinic in Puerto Lopez is quite small. Here, the doctors and nurses help the patients with basic things like examinations, checkups, vaccinations, suturing, giving birth, etc.
They have at the moment departments for Obstetrics, Pediatric, General medicine and Dentistry plus an Emergency room to help and take care of the local people.
INTERNS’ AND VOLUNTEERS ROLE
Interns will work at the local clinic together with the doctors and the nurses to help the patients that needs help. This is a great opportunity to be able to get some hands on experience for medical students as the doctors and nurses are open to interns that show that they are responsible and want to learn about the medical field.
Tasks that interns might do:
• Take vital signs.
• Remove stitches.
• Give vaccinations.
• Clean wounds.
• Do or assist suturing.
• Give medicines after doctor’s coordination.
REQUIREMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Application with clear passport scan in color
Some experience or education within the medical field are recommended.
Intermediate Spanish is recommended.
Interest in working with people and to learn new things.
Open-mindedness to work and live in a different culture.
4 weeks minimum is recommended.
Monday to Friday, from about 08:00 to 17:00. Lunch is normally from 13:00 to 14:00.
WHAT TO BRING
To be allowed to start working interns need to have a white lab coat and a green or blue scrub. If they can’t bring the scrub, they have a chance to buy this in Quito for $30-$35 from Monday to Friday.
If they want to work with gloves they need to bring this as well or buy it in Ecuador as hospitals normally only have them for operations. Gloves can be bought in most pharmacies throughout the country in any decent big village.
If interns want to have a stethoscope, they might want to bring this as well as they might feel that this is personal.
Interns will live in Puerto Lopez with a host family. They will have 3 meals per day, a private room and a shared bathroom. Houses on the coast tend to be quite simple compared to houses up in the mountains.
TO GET THERE
Interns have to arrive to Quito for at least the first day when we have the orientation. If they want Spanish classes they will of course stay for a while before heading to the location of their work.
When it’s time to leave Quito, they will take a cab for about $2 to the bus and here they take the bus to Puerto Lopez for about $13. On arrival to Puerto Lopez after about 10 hours, a family member will wait in the bus station to take the intern to the house in Puerto Lopez. The host mother or father will then accompany the intern to the clinic to get introduced the first working day so they also know how to get there.
Interns that have the best experience are the ones that are most open to a different world with different way of living, different way of working, etc.
Some important things are Spanish level, experience/education, and how open they are as a person. It is important to show the staff that they are interested and want to work by asking questions and offering their help etc. If the interns are shy and just stand in a corner looking, the staff might interpret this as if they don’t understand/ speak Spanish or don’t want to work/have an interest in learning.
Some interns have arrived to Ecuador with low Spanish but with an amazing personality, so they connect to the staff in the hospital right away and have a great time. However, sometimes we get interns that have a high Spanish level and a lot of experience but they are too shy to talk or expect everybody to adapt to them, so they never connect to the staff and in the end have a time that is not nearly as rewarding as it could be.
One very important thing to remember for interns in this program is that it normally takes a couple of days or sometimes a week before they start to get into the routines of the hospital, get to know the staff, and also let the staff get to know them. Thus, they can’t expect to do everything the first day of work.