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Mexican doctors come to train Puebla-bound

Becky Hogan | Monday, May 1, 2006

This fall, 16 pre-professional students will travel to Puebla, Mexico as part of a study abroad program where they will shadow doctors, intern in hospitals, observe surgeries and help in emergency rooms and family practice offices – and last week, three doctors from the Mexican city came to campus to prepare them for the experience.

The visit marks the second time doctors from Puebla have visited Notre Dame since the program began in the fall of 2001, an effort to allow more science majors to study abroad.

Dr. Francisco Albisua, a specialist in general surgery, Dr. Hector Dominguez, a specialist in general practice, public health and hospital administration, and Dr. Rodolfo Barragan, a specialist in orthopedics and emergency medicine, informed students of the experiences in store for them next year and answered any questions they had about the process.

The doctors from Puebla also met with doctors from Memorial Hospital of South Bend to set up their own exchange program with the medical community of Puebla.

Memorial Hospital has been working with the program in Mexico by giving students who plan to go to Puebla an orientation and teaching them how to administer injections.

Director of the Office of International Studies Claudia Kselman, who proposed that Notre Dame start a pre-med program in Mexico, said the program is unique because it establishes links between not only Mexican and American universities but also Mexican and American hospitals.

“Mexico is a source of so many immigrants to the United States, and [this program] helps future doctors to understand the cultural and medical backgrounds of their patients,” she said.

Sophomore Natalie Rodden, who plans to go to Puebla next fall, said she wanted to be part of the Puebla program to experience Mexico’s culture and to be immersed in the Spanish language.

“Being a pre-med anthropology and Spanish major, [the Puebla program] jives perfectly with my course of study,” Rodden said. “Learning the language is invaluable to the health profession.”

They also live with Mexican families or students during their semester abroad and experience the Mexican culture, language and healthcare system.

Rodden said students will be working in the hospital two days a week and sometimes on weekends, shadowing doctors and even treating patients.