Guatemala Service Learning

Overview:  The Guatemala Service Learning experience is a unique, multiprofessional opportunity to provide mentored direct patient care to communities around San Lucas Tolimán, which is located near Lake Atitlán in southwestern Guatemala. For more than a decade, students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin have traveled to San Lucas to provide care in temporary clinics over 2-week periods. The work is coordinated through an organization called the San Lucas Mission and is in close conjunction with local health promoters allowing students to provide sustainable care that is responsive to the specific needs of the communities the mission serves.

A typical day for students consists of organizing supplies for the day, traveling to a clinic site, and holding clinic in the morning and afternoon. While at the clinics, students work in groups to screen patients, conduct histories and physical examinations, and then present patients to the providers for evaluation. Each evening, there is a teaching session provided by UW faculty to discuss topics related to patient care, global health, social determinants of health, and other topics of interest.

Weekends are usually free for sightseeing or other activities. In addition to medical care, there are several community projects that the Mission coordinates and students are able to participate in these projects as time allows. These include reforestation, construction, coffee picking/ processing, and stove building.

Logistics: The group (if there is enough interest, there will be two groups) will be comprised of 10-12 medical, pharmacy, and physical therapy students and 4-5 faculty members. Spanish proficiency is beneficial but not required, as interpreters will be used in patient evaluations.

Cost: Each student is responsible for his or her own costs including travel to Guatemala. Food/lodging/transportation within Guatemala will be approximately $700 per week and is provided by the San Lucas Mission. The total cost for the 2-week trip is around $1400 total plus the cost of round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Guatemala City.

May 20-May 31, 2024 (first trip)
July 22-August 2, 2024 (second trip)

Orientation: A series of orientation sessions are conducted prior to each trip to familiarize students about the San Lucas community, the Mission, ongoing projects, and physical exam and history-taking skills. Participation in these sessions is mandatory for joining the program in Guatemala. There will also be required online orientation materials found on Canvas.

Coordination: While faculty will help to coordinate some logistics with the Mission, the success of this experience depends on the students who will be participating. Students are responsible for any needed fundraising, purchasing of medications and other clinic supplies, and coordination within the UW group. Faculty are available to provide guidance to student leaders.

Academics: Upon completion of the field experience, students will receive a 1-credit independent study (699) through the Emergency Medicine Department at UW.  Students must be in good academic standing in order to participate in this program. 

Medicine: Sean Duffy, MD, Jessica Schmidt, MD, Kevin Wyne, PA-C
Pharmacy: Karen Kopacek, RPh
Physical Therapy: Jeff Hartman, PT, DPT, MPH

Application Link

Deadline: December 15, 2023

Covid-19 Notice

As circumstances surrounding the global SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve, our first priority remains the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students.  The SMPH Office of Global Health will follow guidelines and policies established by UW-Madison and the University of Wisconsin System Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

Updated 12/22/21