The University of South Florida pediatric residency program offers an elective in international medicine. Residents are free to design their own international electives, provided they meet educational criteria designated by the program. In addition, we have developed a collaborative experience with the USF College of Public Health that allows for residents to have a pre-planned, well-run international elective paid for by the program. Residents travel to Panama for approximately ten days and have a multitude of experiences. Clinical experiences include multiple inpatient and outpatient experiences in Panama City at a large, public children's hospital, as well as exposure to a semi-private children's hospital and a private/"medical tourism" hospital.
They have the opportunity to tour Panama's premier medical research facility and they visit with public health officials to learn about the history of and current status of the health care system in Panama. Residents also spend several days at a more rural hospital, and finally travel to a remote location and do outreach medical care among the indigenous people. Thus, the residents gain exposure to and education about all levels of the medical system within this developing country. In addition to the medical components of the trip, there are several cultural experiences such as a day trip through the rainforest with the Embera Indians, a guided tour of the old city, a visit to a Panamanian coffee plantation, and a visit to the Panama Canal.
We are currently offering this experience every other year and are developing other multi-disciplinary experiences at additional international sites.
Previous program participants say this about their Panama experience..
"AMAZING!! Truly the trip of a lifetime."
"I saw lots of things I had never seen before!"
"All in all, I can sum the trip in one word - amazing! The trip was incredibly well organized; we didn't have to worry about any detail except learning and experiencing the hospitals and culture."