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Mar 08 2012

NYIT Center for Global Health Explores Language Immersion with UNIBE Costa Rica

Drs. Roberto Rodriguez Barquero, Edward Gotfried, and Rafael Lamas Alfonso

Old Westbury. N.Y. (March 8, 2012)—Language barriers are a challenge faced by many physicians who treat the diverse populations of New York. For some medical residents in the Bronx, the ability to speak Spanish can lead to better communication and better care for Hispanic and Latino patients.
Soon, students at NYIT’s New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM) and residents at its Bronx teaching hospital, St. Barnabas, will have the opportunity to transcend this challenge while earning academic credits through an innovative cultural immersion program with Universidad Iberoamerican (UNIBE) Costa Rica.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about family values and issues relevant to the Hispanic and Latino population,” said Roberto Rodriguez Barquero, Ph.D., UNIBE’s Vice Chancellor-Provost. “We realized that many American healthcare professionals will be working with Hispanic populations in the states, and thought it would be a good idea for them to become familiar first-hand with medicine and the Hispanic family in Costa Rica—not only culturally but in terms of language immersion.”
Rodriguez described the program as a four-week practicum that would allow students access to all levels of the health system in Costa Rica. While living with host families, participants would spend mornings shadowing Costa Rican healthcare professionals, visiting local hospitals and clinics in San Jose, attending bilingual lectures by noted physicians and epidemiologists, and even meeting indigenous shaman healers.  Each afternoon, the students would receive four hours of Spanish language instruction, which would also include community engagement and cultural components such as dance and cooking lessons.
NYIT students will not be the only ones to benefit from the university’s relationship with UNIBE, according to NYIT Center for Global Health Director Edward Gotfried, D.O.  Earlier this year, after attending a presentation by NYCOM Doctor-Patient Continuum Director Donna-Marie McMahon, D.O., UNIBE President Emma Grace Hernández expressed an interest in working with NYIT to develop UNIBE programs that mirror NYCOM’s problem-based learning track. In addition, UNIBE students may be able to participate in exchanges that bring them from Costa Rica to NYCOM or St. Barnabas.
“We are very pleased that UNIBE has been given support by President Guiliano, Dr. Barbara Ross Lee, Dr. Donna McMahon, and Dr. Ed Gotfried,” Rodriguez added. “They have all championed our developing partnership for the exchange of students, faculty and research.”
About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 89,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit


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