Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Costa Rica

(2014 Trip Cancelled)

Next trip in 2016!

July 5 - 19, 2014 (Summer II) *

The Program

The department of Dental Education in cooperation with the Office of International Programs, offers two weeks studying culture, society, and providing health education and preventive health screenings to the indigenous population of Costa Rica.  The program is partnered with  Costa Rica Spanish Developers.  The program will be located in the city of San Jose, Costa Rica and in the area of Talamanca, specifically the town of Shiroles, at La Finca Educativa on the Caribbean coast near Puerto Viejo. 

Costa Rica Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Students admitted to the program will register for Summer Session II course number DHYG-N390 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Costa Rica.   This course fulfills the Natural World Common Core requirement.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • To provide students with an immersion in the culture and language of Costa Rica
  • To learn about the history of the health care system in Costa Rica, and why it is one of the best in Latin America
  • To provide students the experience of offering preventive health education to the population
  • To explore the different types of medicines, oral hygiene practices, health care practices and health concerns of the citizens

Consuela, Kelsey and Karlee in Costa Rica


There is no Spanish prerequisite for the course, yet language is an important part of understanding culture.  Students will be living with local families gaining a personal introduction to the warmth and friendliness of Costa Ricans.   They will also be learning basic Spanish in a classroom style setting most days.

Program Fees

The program will include a home stay for  two weeks and 3 meals a day with snacks.  The total price for the two week program is $2,500 plus the cost of airfare and 3 credit hours of tuition during the summer session II.  Students will also need to purchase $27.85 in international insurance.

Costa Rica July 2012


The applications are due February 24th and a non-refundable deposit of $500 is due by March 3rd.  The balance must be paid in full or by commitment from Financial Aid by May 1, 2014.


The program provides accommodations, including meals, in the homes of Costa Rican families. This experience is an invaluable way to learn about Costa Rican culture on a personal level and an important element in learning the Spanish language. Homes are small, clean and comfortable.

Ariah and Shay Treating in Costa Rica

Financial Aid

All loans, grants, and scholarships for which participants are eligible at Indiana University can also be used for the Costa Rica program.

The Setting

According to the 2000 United States census, approximately one in eight people in the U.S. has Hispanic origin and about 12% of the country’s population is Latino. 

For healthcare professionals, these challenges are crucial.  Knowledge of Spanish has become essential for communicating and treating Latino patients.  For this reason we have designed a Spanish Program for healthcare professionals. 

Costa Rica Setting, Boy in Blue Boots

Cultural sensitivity is of major concern, especially in healthcare.  These days the demand for practitioners with a working knowledge of Spanish, as well as, Latin American culture is at its highest level than in previous years.

Research proves that the quickest and most efficient way to improve both language skills and cultural awareness is to study in the country where the target language is spoken.

Angie, Abby, Ariah and Allan at Med HX Day 1 Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to coral reefs, magnificent beaches, glowing volcanoes, lush tropical forests, open savanna and misty cloud forests, and has more species of plants and animals than the entire United States.  It has done more to preserve its land than almost any country on Earth.  Yet, it is also struggling to preserve this heritage and its unique Latin American culture amidst the pressures of economic development and globalization.

Allan doing exam close up in Costa Rica

For two weeks, students will stay with Costa Rican families off the tourist path.  Students will learn basic Spanish and will tour the capital of San Jose during their first week.  During their second week they will have the unique opportunity to travel to an indigenous area in the Talamanca Mountains to provide preventive screenings and health talks to a population of native Costa Ricans.  These Costa Ricans are only 1.7% of the entire population and are the last descendants of the ancient civilizations that once populated Central America.  Students will have the chance to help the people of Shiroles and surrounding areas prioritize their health so they can put health as one of the many sustainable resources in Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica, Little Boy in Chair Smiling


Applications are available online and from the Office of International Programs. Any student desiring to participate in the program should contact:

Kristyn Quimby, RDH, MLS
Program Director
Clinical Lecturer in Dental Education
Education and Arts Room 1251
Telephone: (574) 520-4405

Dr. Lisa Zwicker
Director of International Studies
Wiekamp Hall 3269
Telephone: (574) 520-4231


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* All information is subject to change. This brochure is neither a contract nor an offer to make a contract.  This is a physically as well as intellectually demanding program. If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can be made to accommodate some needs.  Dates may change due to flight options.

Costa Rica July 2012

Costa Rica July 2012