Child Family Health International (CFHI) Ecuador: Intensive Beginner Spanish & Healthcare

Quito | Ecuador

Ecuador - 018 | Print This Position Description

Interns will have the opportunity to study Spanish while volunteering at a wide variety of non-profits and participating in clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities. Through these opportunities interns will gain exposure to Ecuador's public healthcare system while expanding Spanish language skills with a focus in medical vocabulary.

About the Organization

Founded in 1992 by Dr. Evaleen Jones, Child Family Health International offers educational and community health programs at 20+ sites in 6 countries. To date, their programs have 7000+ alumni from 35 countries.

IE3 works in partnership with CFHI to provide superior programs to students studying pre-medicine, pre-nursing and other health-related fields. The CFHI/IE3 combination program provides students with all of the benefits of IE3 program participation, as well as in-country support and guidance from CFHI.

The intensive beginner Spanish and healthcare program in Quito, Ecuador is designed for those with little to no knowledge of the Spanish language, but who wish to increase their cultural and linguistic competency as well as their understanding of health care delivery in a low-resource setting. Participants will be exposed to the local public health care system within an urban environment while gaining an understanding of the social and economic factors that impact the health of the local population.

Within this language-intensive program, participants will spend the first half of their internship in intensive Spanish classes in the morning while volunteering with local non-profits in the afternoons. Interns will have the opportunity to volunteer at a wide variety of non-profits, including orphanages, public schools, a home for young abused mothers and girls, and a food shelter. The last half of the internship will focus on utilizing and expanding Spanish and medical Spanish skills during clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities and additional Spanish classes. Interns will gain exposure to Ecuador's public healthcare system by participating in various clinical rotation sites that provide free or low cost services to the urban population.

Job Description

CFHI's rotations are designed to offer you clinical and observational experiences relevant to your level of medical education. The following hospitals and clinics are a sample of possible rotations during this program - rotation availability depends on local conditions. CFHI is a global health ethics leader; as such their programs uphold strict standards and comply with all local laws which may prevent foreigners from directly providing healthcare services. Your experience may be predominantly observational depending on your previous clinical training, Spanish level, and the relationship with your preceptor. Most importantly YOU are the most important factor in making the your experience as fulfilling as possible by being respectful, inquisitive, and open to the wide variety of learning experiences which you will encounter.

Non-clinical sites (first half of internship):

Fundacion AGAPE A small, privately run, non-government organization that is home to over twenty orphans. Many of the children have been abandoned by their parents, who leave Ecuador to search for work or a better life in a different country. Children are between the ages of four and thirteen and are friendly and accepting. Volunteers have an opportunity to see a very different life than they are used to seeing. They can work with the children, help in construction and maintenance (painting, etc.) of the house where they live, or make brooms, mops, and various snacks to sell. Although the work can be tiring, it is a rewarding experience.

Pueblito de la Esperanza A non-government, privately run, Catholic organization that provides a home for children between the ages of four and sixteen. Many of the children have been abandoned by their parents, who leave Ecuador to search for work or a better life in a different country. The children are very friendly and accepting and welcome the company of the volunteers. Volunteers can help the children in many ways, by playing with them and helping them with their homework. They can also help out with daily chores. Although the work can be tiring, it is a rewarding experience. It is a valuable experience for volunteers to see a very different life than they are used to seeing.

Mercedes Noboa (Nursing teaching centers/Public children centers) Public children centers that aim to provide a safe and stimulating environment for children while their mothers are at work. Most centers are run by charitable organizations, while some are government-run programs. The centers are located in neighborhoods in and around Quito and care for children from age three to five, as well as providing assistance to children in elementary and high school. The children generally come from low-income households. Volunteers can work with local day care centers for poor children and are also welcome within certain schools to facilitate teaching and help an instructor grade student work. They can also attend recess where various activities are planned, such as football matches, dancing lessons, and playing a variety of games. Each class has between twenty and thirty children, all of whom have a basic knowledge of English. Anyone who enjoys teaching and wishes to enrich the lives of needy children will find volunteering to be a fulfilling placement.

Colegio Alexander Von Humboldt (Public Schools) Public schools are for children between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Each school has a capacity of eighty or more students and each class has between ten and thirty students. Most of the students come from broken families, where resources are scarce and the majority of fathers have no choice, but to migrate outside of the country in order to find work. The children may live alone or in families with various social problems. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with young people who come from homes in need and teach English, as well as assist with other activities at the school. High schools involve volunteer students in regular classes where they can work on their Spanish and teach English. Classes may include accounting, computers, physics and social sciences.

Fundacion Nuestro Jovenes Home for Young Abused Mothers and Girls This institution, assisted by the Ecuadorian government, provides various types of social assistance to those in need. This includes abused young mothers and girls who have had trouble at home with their families and teen mothers who come from low-income families. The program assists teen mothers with nutritional and emotional guidance and provides care during pregnancy and immediately after birth. The home offers a safe environment and the staff are dedicated to making the members feel secure and part of a community. Volunteers are always welcome. They can garden, paint the walls, help out with decorations, spend much needed time with the girls, painting their nails, and looking after the children. Volunteers can also help provide pre-natal and post-natal care to teen mothers at the home. This institution is perfect for any volunteer that wants to work with low-income communities and help in a variety of ways.

Organizacion Opcion de Vida Street Children This organization has many activities during the week. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with street children. They can give conferences, teach English, play soccer/football with the children, help clean the house, garden and help make meals during dinnertime. Organizacion Pan de Vida An organization that helps to prepare meals for those less fortunate living in Quito. Volunteers prepare food that serves about 350 people for dinner. Volunteers come from all over the world to help and it is a fun environment to work in.

Clinical Sites (last half of internship):

Maternidad Isidro Ayora This public hospital located in the center of Quito is where the majority of the deliveries take place and where high-risk pregnancies are managed. It is a teaching hospital for medical students and residents. It has a capacity of 400 beds and is virtually always full. This site is open to 3rd and 4th year students only. The Medical Director of the program may consider other participants for this rotation if participant posses high-level Spanish skills. Students must have certification that they have completed a rotation in Ob/Gyn in the United States. (Please bring along relevant proof that coursework has been completed in Ob/Gyn rotations.)

Centro de Salud, Carcelen Alto and Carcelen Bajo Centro de Salud Carcelen Alto is a Pediatrics/Obstetrics clinic under the direction of wonderful family practice physicians. It is a small clinic in a very poor neighborhood in the northern part of Quito. Centro de Salud Carcelen Bajo is similar to Carcelen Alto but closer to downtown Quito. This facility also employs a midwife.

Hospital Militar is a facility with approximately 400 beds and provides healthcare services to military staff and families as well as civilians in the central part of Quito. This site includes internal medicine and surgery rotations. In the surgical rotations, students will be able to participate as observers and depending on their clinical and Spanish skills, may assist during surgeries. In the internal medicine rotations, students may rotate in the in-patient area of the hospital as well as out-patient offices throughout the Hospital. Participants will be able to observe many different types of pathologies due to the fact that citizens from all over Ecuador are referred to this hospital.

Hospital Tierra Nueva, an NGO, serves the poorest citizens in the southern part of Quito, comprised of approximately 500,000 residents. All specialties can be found at this hospital, as well as other community health programs they offer, such as free cleft palate surgeries. Participants may rotate in different wards: surgery, pedatrics, ob/gyn, ambulatory care, and family medicine.

Jambi Huasi Clinic, Otavalo* This rotation is different from others in Quito. The clinic is called Jambi Huasi and specializes in combining medicina naturalista (traditional medicine) and western medicine in a town called Otavalo. They have a huge indigenous population. Students can come and observe the workings of the traditional doctors for a maximum of two days. The clinic charges a fee per day, which must be paid by the student directly to the clinic. Accommodations in Otavalo will be the responsibility of the individual student. *This clinic is not included in the regular clinical rotation in the Quito program, but is a good opportunity to experience traditional healing in a nearby town.

All rotations are subject to change depending on local availability and general Ecuadorian holidays. Local coordinators will try and make alternate arrangements if a particular activity or facility is not available during the program month.

# of Positions per term


Start Dates

Winter 2015: Jan 3 - March 14; Spring 2015: March 28 - June 6; Summer 2015: July 4 - Sept 12; Fall 2015: Sept 26 - Dec 5

Duration of Internship

10 weeks

Academic Background

Pre-med and medical students. Undergraduates considering pre-nursing, nursing, and physicians assistant. Graduates students in medical related fields of study including medicine, public health, nursing, and naturopathic studies.


Prior travel/study abroad experience preferred.

Language Ability

Little to no Spanish language skills required.

Other Requirements

Passionate about healthcare.

Total costs vary depending on how long you plan to be abroad, where you will be living, your personal spending habits, and current exchange rates. The following estimates will give you a ballpark figure for this internship. Get help with the math from our handy Cost Calculator and currency converter.

IE3 Program Fee

The IE3 program fee is $3450 for the first term for both in-state and out-of-state students and $1000 for each additional term. This fee includes up to 12 credits per term, and is charged in lieu of tuition. Visit your University's IE3 page for details regarding campus administrative fees.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

Expense Type Price
Host Site Fees

$5380 (includes room, 2 meals/day)

International Travel $1100 - $1300
Visa Fees Minimal with stay less than 90 days
Recommended Immunizations Varies (see additional expense information)

*See Additional Cost Information below.

Estimated Monthly Expenses

Expense Type Price/month
Housing Included in host site fees
Food $100
Local Transportation $50
Recreation $50
Personal Expenses $75



Additional Expense Information

Visit this website for the list of recommended vaccinations. These out of pocket expenses are not included in the program fee.

The host site fee from CFHI includes:

  • Room and board for 10 weeks (homestay and breakfast/dinner with host family)
  • Airport pick-up
  • In-country orientation
  • Weekly meetings with Medical Director and Local Coordinator
  • Clinical rotations
  • Use of a mobile phone
  • Local transportation to and from the clinics from a central location (public transportation costs to the central location from the homestay are the responsibility of the intern)

Quito is the capital of Ecuador with a population of about a million people. It stretches lengthwise between two mountain ranges. It is nestled among incredible volcanoes and impressive peaks at an elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level. The climate is spring like with warm days and cool nights. Like most cities, this is a live urban center with dancing, dining, historical sites, shopping and museums.

See additional information at CFHI website.