Service Learning in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, 2018

Work in satellite clinics with San Lucas Mission.

May 28 – June 8, 2018, and possibly July 23 – August 3, 2018 (See below.)

Guatemala photo


Overview: The Guatemala Service Learning experience is coordinated through an organization called the San Lucas Mission. For the past decade, UW-Madison SMPH students and faculty have traveled to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, to work in satellite clinics around the southern/eastern areas near Lake Atitlán. Our work is in close conjunction with local health promoters allowing us to provide sustainable care that is responsive to the specific needs of the communities we serve. 

A typical day for our group consists of organizing supplies for the day, traveling to a clinic site, and holding clinic in the morning and afternoon. While at the clinics, students work in groups to screen the patients, conduct a history and physical examination, and then present the patient to the providers for evaluation. Each evening, there is a teaching session provided by UW faculty to discuss topics related to patient care, global health, social determinants of health, and other topics of interest. 

Weekends are usually free for sightseeing or other activities. In addition to medical care, there are several community projects that the Mission coordinates and students are able to participate in these projects as time allows. These include reforestation, construction, coffee picking/ processing, and stove-building. 

Logistics: The group (if there is enough interest, we will have two groups) will be comprised of 10-12 medical students and 4-5 providers. Spanish proficiency is beneficial but not required (about half of the students on previous trips have been proficient/fluent).

Cost: Each student is responsible for his or her own costs including travel to Guatemala and approximately $700 per week for food/lodging which is provided by the San Lucas Mission. The total estimated cost is approximately $2,000. 

Dates: The anticipated dates for the service learning trip will be May 28 – June 8, 2018. If there is student interest in a second trip, the anticipated dates will be July 23 – Aug. 3, 2018.

Orientation: There will be a series of orientation sessions prior to each trip to familiarize students about the San Lucas community, the Mission and ongoing projects. We will also be reviewing physical exam and history-taking skills. Participation in these sessions is mandatory for joining us in Guatemala. There will also be required online orientation materials found on Canvas.

Coordination: While the San Lucas Mission is involved in coordinating transportation, housing, and meals, this is a student-directed experience. Students are responsible for any needed fundraising, purchasing of medications and other clinic supplies, and coordination within the UW group. Faculty are available to provide guidance when needed.

Academics: Upon completion of the field experience, students will receive a 1-credit independent study (699) through the Emergency Medicine Department at UW.Students must be in good academic standing in order to participate in this program.  

Application: Deadline to apply for this program is Jan.15, 2018.  Students will be notified of the outcome by Jan. 31, 2018. Go to for application. 

Faculty: James Svenson, MD and Kevin Wyne, PA-C

Apply here.