GPSA for Health’s Xela program is an intensive experience for high school students and high school graduates with a passion for career paths such as medical doctor (MD), nurse (RN, LPN), pharmacist, biomedical engineer (BME), dentist or other health occupations.
The students’ GPSA experience begins in their arrival city: Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA airport). Shortly after their arrival, the students will travel as a group, including GPSA staff, to Xela. Though Xela is the center of activity for the program, students live with a college leader in groups of five or six with a host family in pueblos outside of Xela. Living with a host family creates a perfect atmosphere to practice Spanish and learn and experience the Guatemalan culture.
For their clinical service, students are divided into teams led by trained college students (premeds from Duke and Johns Hopkins) or faculty. Students learn to facilitate several medical interventions and screenings (how to vaccinate, how to measure infant height and weight, how to measure blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and complete an important introductory cultural and language training. The language training is intense (2-3 hours, one-on-one per day) and focused on Spanish. Fluent Spanish speakers will study one of the local Mayan languages.