A Visual Story: Health in Belize

Health in Belize is a three-week study abroad program offered through the University of Georgia’s Office of Global Engagement. The trip studies healthcare disparities and how differently healthcare looks outside of the United States.

The group was in Belize for 21 days—they departed on May 15th and returned on June 4th.

Twenty-one pre-health students (pre-med, PA, and dental) made the trip. Kayla Tatum, an M2 at the Medical Partnership, also made the trek to Belize.

Below is her story of Health in Belize.

I decided to join the Health in Belize program because I wanted to spend my summer doing something to continue my education in healthcare while also doing something I love, traveling. As a bonus I got to help undergrads with medical school applications and answer their questions about medical school.

We spent the 4 hours of the weekdays shadowing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and any other staff that would allow at La Loma Luz Adventist Hospital in Santa Elena. I also sat in on Dr. Amy Baldwin’s lectures on microbiology and women’s health. On the weekends we got to explore the surrounding jungles, caves, and many Mayan ruins. We were also given many free afternoons to explore the city of San Ignacio.

My favorite medical moment was spending the day with a nurse Rosa, who on her day off went home-to-home to see her patients who had problems such as diabetes or hypertension. These people lived in the village of San Antonio and usually couldn’t afford the entire days trip to the closest public hospital. It was amazing to Rosa’s dedication to her community and her patients.

My favorite part of the trip was probably the last few days in the small village of Hopkins. The beaches were beautiful. We snorkeled in the barrier reef. And I went on one of the most challenging hikes of my life in the Mayflower Bocawina rainforest.

I feel like I took a lot from this trip. The public healthcare is organized as network system of clinics with very few regional hospitals. While the lack of facilities, equipment, and supplies seemed to shock a lot of students, to me this honestly reminded me of rural healthcare in South Georgia where I grew up and worked. The patient and physician relationships also reminded me of being back in my small town as well. I was surprised to see how few tests were ordered because physicians understood every test would be extra out-of-pocket cost to the patient. And it was noticeable different how much trust the patients had in their physicians.

I would absolutely recommend this trip to both medical students and pre-meds. It was an amazing experience.

For more information about attending the Medical College of Georgia at the Medical Partnership campus

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