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What are Virtual Clinical Observations?

blog clinical observations costa rica ecuador project alajuelita project anconcito virtual programs Mar 06, 2021

What Are Virtual Clinical Observations? 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to a halt, FIMRC has begun offering an array of Virtual Volunteer Programs for those interested in the field of global health. Our virtual clinical observations are a component of the Virtual Volunteer Programs that allow students to connect via Zoom with on-site staff at FIMRC project sites and observe them as they assess patients, conduct consultations, prescribe medication, and more.

Clinical observations are included in FIMRC's Virtual Global Health Fellowship and can be added to the Virtual Global Health Volunteer Experience. For those only interested in participating in clinical observations, they are also offered as a stand-alone experience. These opportunities are provided every week, and those who sign up will have access to all observations taking place that week, which is usually between five and eight.

FIMRC's Clinical Observation Program is a fantastic opportunity for students looking to gain a more hands-on approach to the field of global health. This program is ideal for medical students and pre-med students seeking observation opportunities. Still, it is open for anyone looking to experience how healthcare has adapted at different FIMRC project sites due to COVID-19. If you're looking to participate in clinical observations but don't speak Spanish, no worries! We translate each program into English for those who cannot follow along in the native language.

Clinical observations grant access to cross-cultural medical assessments that volunteers may not have the chance to experience anywhere else. They teach students about the social determinants of health worldwide and allow students to connect with others in the field while also providing a look at FIMRC's project sites and how they operate.

Which Project Sites Offer Clinical Observations? 

Three FIMRC Project Sites take part in clinical observations; Project Alajuelita, Costa Rica and Project Anconcito, Ecuador. 

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Project Alajuelita

The FIMRC site at Project Alajuelita in Costa Rica offers three varieties of clinical observations, including psychology, primary care, and pharmacy. During each consultation, FIMRC volunteers will connect with site staff on Zoom and listen as they conduct a telemedicine consultation with the patient over the phone. Psychology sessions with our on-site psychologist, Patricia Calvon, are conducted in Spanish. Still, another FIMRC staff member translating the session in real-time, so volunteers are aware of what's happening and can go back and look through the transcriptions for notes and a better understanding of the program's intricacies.

Primary care consultations are also conducted through telemedicine. Through the consultation, Dr. Karen Wedel walks each volunteer through the clinical process, explains the patient's symptoms, and shows pictures (if available) of the area of concern. Once there has been a diagnosis, Dr. Karen explains to volunteers how she came to her diagnosis and what symptoms were a telling sign. The observations are very engaging, and participants are always encouraged to ask any questions they might have to site staff.

Dayan Alvarado, our Health Education and Volunteer Coordinator at Project Alajuelita, conducts each session in the FIMRC clinic for the pharmacy consultations. It is open for patients to pick-up their medication. Dayan gives volunteers a walk-through of the clinic if they have never seen it before, shows each patient's prescription, translates them, explains the medications, and how they work. When it's time for the patient to pick up their medication, Dayan asks one volunteer to read the patient's prescription instructions in Spanish, allowing them to interact with a patient first-hand.

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Project Anconcito

While FIMRC's site at Project Anconcito in Ecuador does not have an on-site clinic, they run a Diabetes and Hypertension Club for community members that provide weekly blood pressure and blood glucose assessments, and telehealth consults with physicians to ensure patients can control their diabetes and hypertension. These clinical observations occur every Saturday and are similar to the consults in Costa Rica as they are in Spanish with another FIMRC team member helping translate. Students have time to interact with the physician, ask any questions they may have, and learn about the challenges for patients with non-communicable diseases in a medically low-resource setting.

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Hear What Others Have To Say!

"The clinical observations were among the best parts of the experience! The FIMRC doctors and staff were extremely knowledgeable, inclusive, and just all-around wonderful!" - Ritu, Temple University

"The optional observation sessions such as with the primary care doctor, psychologist, and at the pharmacy were really fun and engaging. These opportunities allow me to gauge better at how a FIMRC site operates and the population they serve." - Eaindray, UC San Diego  

"I really enjoyed the interactive clinical observations. It was very fun and interesting to observe the different clinics, even through Zoom. I found it the most interesting to be a part of the observations since they would have us chime in and assist at times." - Yael, Penn State University

To learn more about clinical observation opportunities, visit www.fimrc.org/volunteer or email [email protected] with any questions.

Interested in volunteering abroad or participating in our virtual programs? Check them out below!

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