Summer 2018: Learn Spanish and Shadow Doctors in South America

A Spanish Immersion & Medical Shadowing Study Abroad Program

“The knowledge and experience I gained increased my confidence both in speaking Spanish as well as working in a health-care environment.”

- Tess Hanson, University of Nebraska

Spanish & Medicine Overview

Dates  (Choose best session for you)

  • Summer 1: May 27 - July 28
  • Summer 2: June 17 - Aug. 18
  • Summer 3: July 8 - Sept. 8

Itinerary Overview:

  • BEFORE (pre-departure) We help you arrange your college credit (3 courses). Online placement exam (most students will start somewhere between “No Spanish” and “Intermediate II”). Give preferences for the medical shadowing portion.
  • WEEKS 1-3 (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Your first three weeks will have an extra heavy emphasis on Spanish so you will be ready for the shadowing in weeks 4-9.
  • WEEKS 4-6 (Santiago, Chile) Continue with Spanish class and cultural activities while adding your first shadowing component.
  • WEEKS 7-9 (Cusco, Peru) Continue with your third Spanish course and move on to your second shadowing experience.
  • AFTER Back to your usual world, but with much better Spanish, some medical shadowing experience, and lots of travel stories.  We help you wrap up any loose ends to make sure you receive credit for your course. 

Spanish & Medicine students volunteering in Cusco, Peru

Did You Know the USA Has More Spanish-Speakers Than Spain?

In fact, only Mexico has more.

Today's college students are not prepared for America's demographic reality.

That's why our 3-country study abroad program accelerates your language skills and develops your Latino cultural empathy.

Source: Washington Post

There is a Chronic Shortage of American Healthcare Professionals that Speak Spanish

- IM Diversity

If you don't learn Spanish now...

...will you hate yourself later?

Some studies predict that within two generations the USA will have the world's largest Spanish-speaking population, surpassing Mexico.

"But they CHOSE to come here... THEY should learn English, right?"


Regardless of which side of that debate you take, the reality is that most immigrants don't have the time (or resources) to learn English.


We polled over 150 premed and prehealth students.  


Here's what we found:


82% agree with the AMA Journal of Ethics that "it is the doctor's ethical imperative to learn Spanish."

Yet few college students advance beyond an intermediate level.


They want fluency, but can't get there.



While college courses do help you acquire technical Spanish skills, the large class sizes and the lack of speaking practice limit real-world effectiveness.


And even most study abroad programs don't provide language development, expecting you to arrive already fluent (or set apart in an English side program).


Sadly, the typical student has few ways to reach Spanish fluency.


It is the mission of the Spanish & Medicine study abroad program to be part of the solution, to help prepare tomorrow's professionals to treat Spanish-speakers in their own language, safely and with cultural empathy.


Our students, one at a time, are part of the solution to American healthcare's language gap crisis.


To help develop a "flexible ear" for varying accents, the program spans 3 unique South American cities: 

Weeks 1-3

Buenos Aires (Argentina)

"The Paris of Latin America"

Weeks 4-6

Santiago (Chile)

"#1 Travel Spot" - NY Times

Weeks 7-9

Cusco (Peru)

"Gateway to Machu Picchu" 

Students prepare for shadowing in Cusco, Peru

What If You Could Put "Fluent in Spanish" On ALL Your Future Applications?

"For the first time in my life I woke up looking forward to class...and dreaded days off." - Heather Krane, Michigan

​Our students almost always report learning much more than in prior language classes, even with less studying.


We've observed 5 main reasons for the more effective learning system:

  • Small Classes Class sizes are much smaller than typical high school or college equivalents, making for a more intimate and personal educational experience
  • 360 Degrees of Spanish  The "Spanish Everywhere Environment" keeps you engaged long after class ends
  • plus
    ​Single-Subject Focus  ​You get to focus on only one academic subject, instead of juggling 4-5 different topics in your brain
  • plus
    Same-Day Incentive   ​You get to practice your Spanish the very same day you learn it, rather than "maybe someday"
  • plus
    ​"Living In The Now"  ​Travelers ​abroad for 6+ weeks report a "heightened aliveness" after being separated from their usual stress sources

Small class sizes for lots of individual attention

Who can participate in Spanish & Medicine?

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    Prehealth/Premed Track You will need to have already completed at least one year of university studies on a prehealth/premed track before the program begins.
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    2.5 GPA ​for Academic Credit  If you plan on receiving university credit (usually 3 courses for the summer program) most universities require a minimum 2.5 gpa.
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    ​Career Spanish Intention ​There is no minimum Spanish requirement (we have 9 different starting levels), however spots are reserved for students who intend to someday serve Spanish-speakers.​
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    ​Ability to Travel Abroad  You will need to have sufficient maturity to live in unfamiliar surroundings for several weeks.​

​What is Included and How Much Does it Cost?

The full progam if $9,900.  This includes:

  • Spanish Immersion Course  Equivalent to three college semester courses
  • Medical Shadowing First-hand exposure to Latin American healthcare
  • Transportation Between Countries  Airport transfers and flights from Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Santiago (Chile) to Cusco (Peru)
  • Local Host  Private room in a local homestay
  • ​Half-board (breakfast and dinner)  Your host provides 2 meals per day (students usually eat lunch near the school)
  • ​Cultural Activities (optional) out-of-class activities like salsa dance classes, city tours, and regional cooking lessons
  • 3 Weekend Excursions  Visit iconic destinations such as Mach Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu is ​an included weekend excursion

When Does Spanish & Medicine Start?​

There are three 2018 study abroad sessions:

  1. May 27 - July 28
  2. June 17 - Aug. 18
  3. July 8 - Sept. 8

​Sessions have a limit of 45 students

"Count Me In...​What Do I Do Next?”


​Applying to Spanish & Medicine is a simple 3-step process:

​To be part of the solution to American healthcare's language gap crisis, follow these steps: 

  • 1
    STEP 1....Written Application Answer a few questions about your educational background and how you see Spanish fitting into your career plans. (Takes 15 minutes)  Begin application here
  • 2
    STEP 2...Phone Conversation: Speak with an Ecela Immersion Counselor to make sure it is the right program for you.​
  • 3
    STEP 3...Confirm: If you and the counselor agree it is a good fit, you will have the chance to reserve your spot with a small deposit.​

Spanish & Medicine travel path

See what our students say:

"I got to see many interesting cases that aren’t commonly seen in the United States"

​"My favorite part about the Spanish and Medical shadowing program with Ecela was having the opportunity to shadow local doctors in El Hospital Regional de Cusco.

"During my time in gastroenterology, I witnessed many endoscopies and other procedures. While in the emergency room the doctors put us to work, taking information from patients and checking vital signs.

"My favorite part, however, was spending time in the infectious diseases ward, where I got to see many interesting cases that aren’t commonly seen in the United States such as tuberculosis, dengue fever and even parasitic infections.

"The knowledge and experience I gained while shadowing in Cusco were not only eye-opening but also increased my confidence both in speaking Spanish as well as working in a health-care environment."


​University of Nebraska

"What goes on in this school is an unforgettable experience"

​"When I walked into Ecela the first time, I was impressed by how friendly the people were. I could participate in all of the activities even without being enrolled. After a while, they convinced me to take classes, and it was worth it.

"What goes on in this school is an unforgettable experience. There are people from all over the world, from different cultures, and everything works so well. I thought it was good that we used what we learned in class in the activities during the afternoon and at night. That way, you learned things much more quickly. Especially those who were new to Ecela. The school is truly a wonderful thing."



"it really provided an incredible opportunity to learn the language"

"The Spanish and Medical shadowing program was really an amazing experience. I didn’t have any Spanish experience at all before I arrived and by the time I left, I could understand and speak a significant amount!

"I decided to go during my gap year between undergrad and medical school, and it really provided an incredible opportunity to learn the language, see medicine at practice in another country, and fall in love with Peru.

"Even though my Spanish skills were very basic, I still absorbed a lot in our shadowing sessions and got to observe big and subtle differences between hospitals there and the US.

"Also, one of the best parts was the people I met. I learned so much from the doctors, my classmates, the Ecela staff, locals, travelers, and the kids we volunteered with. I will remember them all for a long, long time."

​Lisa Wang

​Norwthwestern University

Apply to ​Spanish & Medicine 

​Click the button below as the first step toward joining us in South America.

NOTE:  $35 application fee required

Audio Interviews - Spanish & Medicine Feedback

Listen in as past students give your their best advice for having a productive and unforgettable experience

​Kia from Louisiana...

Kia Stern, an aspiring pediatrician, planned as best she could for her Spanish & Medicine program, but there were still many things that caught her off guard.

Kia’s passion for helping families raise up their children is very admirable, and she jumped right in to gain the skills necessary to communicate with even more people.

Listen to hear about her exploration, advice, and obstacles she overcame to get the most out of her weeks abroad.

​Kia Stern

​Xavier University

​Matthew from Michigan...

​Matthew Rossler, a sophomore at Calvin College and future dentist was very tentative before his arrival.

Listen to how Matthew views the immersion process at Ecela and his take on the differences between Peruvian medicine and that of the United States.

Be sure to listen for his big catch and how everything “vale la pena.”

​Matthew Rossler

​Calvin College

​Justine from Nevada...

This was Justine's first experience alone outside of her hometown, and she recounts her eye-opening experiences (all of which began when she googled her homestay address before attending!).

Justine has remarkable advice for those who may be scared when it comes to attending an immersion program abroad and some good tips for making the most of class time and the weeks in Peru.

​Justine Dale

​University of Nevada, Reno

Frequently Asked Questions Spanish & Medicine in South America

Who is the Spanish & Medicine program for?

Our summer program in South America (Argentina, Chile, and Peru) is designed for pre-health students who anticipate using Spanish in their careers. The ideal student:

  • can live without all the creature comforts of home.
  • enjoys meeting new people and is culturally curious.
  • has a desire to witness health care in action.
  • has a genuine interest in learning Spanish.

Who is the Spanish & Medicine program not for?

You will not be happy if you:

  • require hands-on practice (our shadowing is based on ethical observation, not practicing)
  • only want to do the program to “stand out” on grad school and job applications.
  • only want Spanish for the college credit and have no real interest in using the language. 
  • need a high-comfort environment.
  • are a "habitual complainer" - the group is tight-knit and a "Debbie Downer" can spoil the experience for all.

Does the program comply with AAMC study abroad standards?

Yes. The clinics we partner with for shadowing, as well as local health care regulations, do not allow our students to diagnose patients or to perform medical procedures. You will be merely observing the professionals that do.


How do participants receive academic credit?

Depending on your level, you will receive a transcript from Bolivariana (South America) or Brookhaven (USA). If your university is cooperative (most are) you will receive credit for three Spanish courses, though you will learn significantly more than in two traditional courses.


What is the minimum level of Spanish required?

There is no minimal level of Spanish. Our school has complete beginners all the way through people that teach Spanish themselves.

Beginning students will advance the most, yet understand the least. It will be frustrating at first, yet by the end you will be surprised at your abilities.


How much will my Spanish advance?

Technically the program is three college courses, but you should increase your language abilities far more than that. The reasons for superior learning include:

  • more class hours – 180 with Ecela vs. 135 in college.
  • much smaller classes and far more individual participation.
  • surrounded by a “Spanish everywhere” environment.
  • focus on one class instead of four or five.

Can I take extra Spanish classes?

If you have the time, we recommend spending an extra two or three weeks. You may study at any Ecela location and we have special pricing for participants in the Spanish & Medicine program.


What’s included in the tuition?

Your $9,900 tuition includes:

  • all Spanish instruction
  • all course material
  • additional Spanish classes focused on medical Spanish
  • academic transcript
  • housing with private room, includes breakfast and dinner
  • medical component (shadowing, guest lectures, field trips)

What additional expenses should students allow for?

You should also budget for:

  • plane ticket to South Aemrica - Arrive Buenos Aires, Depart Cusco (or Lima if easier)
  • “walking around” money (lunch, snacks, entertainment etc.) about half what you pay in North America
  • souveneirs – gifts for family and friends back home
  • optional school activities.  Excursions are optional and you pay only for the ones you want. Usually they are inexpensive – for example, the cooking class everyone puts in a few dollars (and then gets to eat the food anyway)

Anything else important I should know?

Keep in mind that Cusco has a high altitude and takes a few days to acclimate. Check with your doctor if you are worried about being in a high altitude environment.

Apply to ​Spanish & Medicine 

​Click the button below as the first step toward joining us in South America.

NOTE:  $35 application fee required