American Undergrads Head to Argentina for Medical Spanish Immersion

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2011 marks the first year of Ecela’s medical Spanish immersion group program. Students will travel to Buenos Aires to participate in medical shadowing as well as touring specialist hospitals and receiving guest lectures.

In addition to the usual medical shadowing, which is very popular in and of itself, the students will also benefit from bonus visits to places like a pediatric hospital, an addiction rehabilitation clinic, and an infectious disease center.

ECELA announced today the details of its innovative group medical Spanish immersion program in Buenos Aires, which begins July 3, 2011. While ECELA has offered medical shadowing in the past, this expanded itinerary will offer additional comprehensive benefits for students including tours, lectures and volunteering.

ECELA Spanish Schools currently host approximately 1,900 students a year from over 30 countries, ranging from teenagers to seniors. Medical immersion in Buenos Aires is a program that accepted students can add on to the school’s normal classes. The 2011 medical Spanish immersion program is closed to approximately 20 participants this year, the majority prehealth students plus some professionals. For approximately $2000 each student receives four weeks of the Spanish immersion course, the associated medical components, and a private room in Buenos Aires. Despite very limited publicity, the program filled very quickly.

Students who attend the Spanish school in Argentina are able to take advantage of the wide array of cultural offerings in the city, which include world-renowned museums and tours of areas like San Telmo and La Boca. ECELA students also enjoy activities such as cooking classes and wine tastings.

Language programs are becoming increasingly popular with future American health care workers as the Spanish-speaking population continues to increase. Effective communication can literally be life saving in emergency situations, and medical professionals who can speak the language will have a definitive edge.

Program coordinator Natasha Moreno stated, “In addition to the usual medical shadowing, which is very popular in and of itself, the students will also benefit from bonus visits to places like a pediatric hospital, an addiction rehabilitation clinic, and a psychiatric care center. They will also receive guest lectures explaining Argentina’s health system and medical education.”

ECELA's president Ken Ingraham added, “There certainly won't be any boredom, although that's never the case in Buenos Aires." Ingraham notes that aside from Spanish school and medical shadowing, students should make sure they experience all that the city has to offer. He suggests, "Go to a soccer game, dance some tango, and experience some gaucho life at an estancia."

Also assisting with the new medical Spanish immersion program is Dana Kelley. Kelley, a recent neuroscience graduate of Oberlin College, currently volunteers at a hospital through ECELA and will be attending medical school in 2012. In regards to her experience with Spanish and medicine, Kelley commented “It has been an excellent opportunity to observe the Argentinean health care system firsthand while improving my Spanish and working directly with patients.”

ECELA plans to expand its future medical Spanish group program offerings. Ingraham noted, "Unfortunately the demand for this service far exceeded our available spots. Next year we should be able to not only repeat this program, but also add additional ones at our other Spanish schools in Chile and Peru."

ECELA operates Spanish schools in the South American countries of Argentina, Chile and Peru. Despite today's trends of skyrocketing tuition, the schools are committed to keeping the programs affordable. With 20 hours of small group classes per week, cultural activities and excursions, and the advantages of living in a Spanish-speaking environment, immersion students advance very rapidly. To learn more about ECELA’s programs visit


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