Study Abroad

USF Health International Foundation - Panama

For over 7 years, USF Health Panama has planned, organized and executed study abroad (course style) programs in a variety of disciplines. From focuses in health science, environmental sciences, biology, engineering, hospitality & tourism, international business, anthropology and populations studies to name a few, our team can develop and coordinate an educational program to fit your needs.


“This was an unforgettable experience for me and the students. The contrast between metropolitan Panama City with its multi-million dollar high-rise apartments that were constructed only in the last 12 years and its older construction, was striking. Visiting the Panama Canal and learning about the public health implications of having an influx of workers and visitors from all around the world on a previously healthy indigenous population, was a real-life public health eye opener. The highlights for me included visiting the outdoor Smithsonian Tropical Research (outdoor) Institute, and canoeing over to the Emberá indigenous village.

At the Smithsonian, sloths were hanging from trees and very large iguanas were resting on tree limbs. At the Emberá indigenous village, we were welcomed by adults and children (dressed in their locally made beaded attire) playing music for us as we were hiking up the mountain leading to the village. The lunch they fixed for us made of locally caught fish and cooked plantains was a culinary delight. This was truly an unforgettable experience.”

- Dr. H. Osman.

Current Programs

Current study abroad programs, hosted annually by USF Health Panama:

International Perspectives on Women’s Health Issues

Mixed format seminar-style course, offered during the summer months. Students participate in a module guided online portion of the class, which culminates on a weeklong field experience in Panama. The focus of the course is global factors that affect women’s health from a human rights perspective, Panama being a case study. Instructors: Dr. Arlene Calvo and Dr. Cheryl Vamos.

International Health Education
Practicum style course taught in the Spring, where students prepare online during the early spring months for a community immersion in Panama. Students work in groups to develop real health education interventions for a community, focusing on community needs and reality. Each student group works on a particular topic, which ranges from maternal and child health, to tropical diseases, and vaccination. Instructor: Dr. Arlene Calvo. 

Community Nursing
Once or twice a year, groups of approximately 20 students from the College of Nursing, participate in a two-week community practicum learning about community health and clinical processes in rural areas of Panama.

Pediatrics Residents International Experience

Each year Pediatrics Residents, from the USF Morsani College of Medicine, travel to Panama to participate in clinical shadowing experiences in pediatric hospitals and clinics in Panama City and rural communities, which includes data collection for a culminating research project. Students are able to observe patients of a diverse population, varying socio-economic conditions and healthcare systems. 

Public Health Practicum/Seminar
This is a tailored program and immersive experience for undergraduate and/or graduate public health students in which students evaluate Panama’s public health care system, conduct community needs assessments, experience cultural immersion with an indigenous group and receive an introduction and history of the Panama Canal and learn its critical relevance to public health measures in the region. 

Other University Collaborations
The USF Panama Program also offers a variety of academic and research services to other academic institutions. 
  • For the past consecutive six years, the Panama Program office has coordinated a global health practicum in alliance with the University of Southern California’s Kecks School of Medicine. Each summer, for two weeks, a group of over a dozen public health students in epidemiology, health education, health policy, global health, and other public health tracks work on a practical experience at a semi-rural community in Panama. 
  • Other university alliances include the University of Texas, Summer at Sea Program of the University of Virginia and West Coast University among others. 
  • Local university collaborations include the University of Panama, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, the Universidad Latina, and the Universidad Santa María la Antigua Catholic University. 

Please contact us if you are interested in having our Panama office collaborate with your institution to create interesting study abroad experiences for your students and faculty.