Guatemala - ISC: Global Health

Clinic InformationGuatemala - Primeros Pasos - Elizabeth Sherrill

Primeros Pasos is a semi-rural community clinic in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala that was founded with a focus on maternal and child health but has since expanded to include nutrition, pediatrics, primary care, health education, and community heath. This ISC clinical rotation introduces students to diseases and community health challenges unique to rural Central America. Students gain considerable experience in pediatric primary care, including chronic malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and upper respiratory infections, as well as public health outreach. Unique aspects to this rural clinic site include day trips to surrounding local communities with Primeros Pasos’ mobile clinic, volunteering with activities outside the clinic, and an environment to hone one’s medial Spanish language skills.

Potential Rotations

  • Pediatrics
  • Nutrition
  • Primary Care
  • Health Education
  • Community Education

Guatemala - Christina Marmol, MD candidate, with American volunteers and Guatemalan medical students who staff Primeros Pasos clinic..JPGSite Information

Students in Quetzaltenango will be exposed to Spanish language and Central American culture. A "minimum professional proficiency" (level 3) of Spanish language is a requirement (see State Department Language Level Descriptions). K’iche’, a Mayan language, is the predominant local language at Quetzaltenango.

Lodging for students at Primeros Pasos is coordinated by students. Accommodation options include: homestays, hostels, or hotels. Homestays are the most common and economic option, generally $175-200/week including breakfast and dinner. Hostels and hotels range cost $200-500/week. Students should budget between $600-900 for airfare and $10/day for food. Internet service is available at local cafes and sometimes at lodging. Please note: Students are also required to pay a $300 volunteer fee, which the site uses to help defray the costs of hosting students in the clinic. The volunteer coordinator can provide information on fundraising options to cover this fee.

Student reflectionsGuatemala - Kelly Pekala playing with children

Video reflection: Julia Pitkin

“Primeros Pasos is a wonderful primary care clinic serving the children and families of the Palajunoj Valley in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Working with Guatemalan med students, physicians, nutritionists, social workers, and laboratory technicians, as well as U.S. medical students from other institutions was a rich learning experience in providing inter-disciplinary, cross-cultural care. I highly recommend this rotation for students interested in pediatrics in underserved settings, international diversity in the culture of medicine, community/acute care pediatrics, public health promotion, nutrition, pediatric infectious diseases, and maternal-child health.” -Irene Mathieu, 2015


Guatemala - Christina Marmol, MD candidate, working in a mobile clinic at the public school in the Bella Vista community.JPGRead Christina's reflection on Primeros Pasos's website.


Guatemala - DD-Women-making-beads-225x300.jpgGuatemala - Ben and KellyGuatemala - Elizabeth giving presentation on parasitic infections to local and foreign healthcare providers.jpeg