Health Studies Program Seminar

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Course Information
Health Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring, Summer
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



The purpose of this course is to offer students a global vision of the Chilean health system, of health policies and healthcare delivery to community. This seminar is structured as academic support and context to the clinical observation that students will do in the field, whose objective is to conduct and develop awareness and respect in medical assistance practices based on cultural and social aspects that are particular to Chile. This course will also analyze transversal themes such as efficiency, equity and the quality of service delivery to patients in each of the sessions.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance and punctuality are mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course-related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies.

If a student misses more than 1.5 classes (for courses taught once a week) or 2.5 classes (for courses taught twice a week) in any course, the final grade will be reduced by one-third of a letter grade (for example, A- to B+) for every additional unexcused absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Punctuality: Students who are late to class will receive a .5 absence. Arriving in class more than 15 minutes late will result in 1 absence.

Learning outcomes: 

By completing this course, students will be able to:

  • understand the health situation in Chile.
  • analyze the structure and functioning of the Chilean health system.
  • identify the epidemiological profile of health at Chile.
  • identify the role of the health professionals in various contexts of health care.
  • observe health related attention in primary, secondary and tertiary levels of attention, in intra and extra hospital settings.
Method of presentation: 

The seminar is based on:

  • presentations and group workshops that are complemented with weekly field observations in clinics.
  • twenty course hours distributed in ten sessions of clinical observation.
  • clinical observations.
  • two theoretical sessions (4 hours) and three practical sessions (10 hours) a week.
  • opportunities to study specific areas of health in depth through complimentary readings, field visits and meetings with specialists.
Field study: 

This course includes field visits to medical units of interest and meetings with specialists.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Written field work evaluations per week (four pages in Spanish) - 40%
  • Midterm - 30%
  • Final presentation and written report (fifteen pages in Spanish) - 30%



Session 1 Introduction, Methodology, and Analysis of the Health System and Public Policies in Chile.
  • Historic, political and social context of the health system in Chile.
  • Description of students’ expectations
  • Public and social policies: Theoretical concepts and key elements to understand the Chilean public health policy.
  • Chilean public and private health systems (FONASA – ISAPRES): General characteristics; political and administrative structure; main strengths, weaknesses and challenges.
  • Financial health system and AUGE Plan: General characteristics, comparing the Chilean system and the American system.
Session 2 Preventive and Therapeutic Medicine Health Policies in Chile
  • General context of preventive health policies: A historical and social view.
  • Case analysis of successful preventive programs in Chile.
  • General context of the therapeutic medicine health policies: A historical and social view.
  • Hospitalization and treatment of illness: General introductory analysis for field observation.
Session 3 Patients’ Rights in the Chilean Health System: Bioethical and Intercultural Aspects
  • Patients’ rights: Concepts and historical evolution in Chile.
  • Patients’ rights: Comparing Chile and the United States.
  • Patients’ rights in Chilean hospitals and medical centers: Practical application (Guidelines will be distributed for students to apply in hospitals when interviewing patients).
  • Post-surgery treatment of the patient (Development of a guideline to analyze hospitalized patients with different pathologies).
Session 4 Health in Chile: Women and Reproductive Health
  • Preventive health policies for women: Historical context, strengths and weaknesses, future policy challenges.
  • Sexual education policy: Policy context and social and value impacts.
  • Women's health: analysis of the programs developed by the sanitary authority.
  • Adolescent pregnancy: Analysis of statistics and of the programs developed by the public authority in confronting this situation.
Session 5 Health in Chile: Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Historical, social and cultural context of maternity in Chile.
  • Admission of mothers in labor: Theoretical and practical analysis of the procedure. (Guidelines will be distributed to students before observing a delivery).
  • Post-partum and newborn care: Description of the physical and dynamic environment of a specialized unit.
  • Gynecological medicine in Chile: Theoretical analysis of the most frequent alterations that determine gynecological illness condition in women and its repercussions.
Session 6 Midterm Exam
Session 7 Health in Chile: Preventive and Therapeutic Medicine for Children
  • Health policies for children: Historical context, strengths and weaknesses and future challenges.
  • Prevention programs: Routine control of children and education of mothers.
  • Vaccination program: General characteristics, weaknesses and strengths of the Chilean system v/s the system in the US.
  • Complementary nutrition program: INTA (Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos), a success story.
  • Pediatric medicine in Chile: Theoretical analysis of the most frequent alterations that determine illness in children. Reflections on the repercussion on the family and educational development of children.
Session 8 Medicine and Surgery
  • Description and historical analysis of general medicine in Chile.
  • Surgery as a medical specialty in Chile: Practical, legal and ethical implications.
  • Surgery ward and anesthesia: Key components of surgery.
  • Post-surgery treatment of the patient (Development of a guideline to analyze hospitalized patients with different pathologies).
Session 9 Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • Health policies that focus on mental health: Historical context, strengths, weaknesses and future challenges.
  • Mental health programs for victims of the dictatorship.
  • Theoretical and practical analysis of psychiatric patients, most frequent alterations that determine mental illness condition. Reflections on the impact on families and the social cost of such illnesses.
Session 10 Oral and Written Presentations


Required readings: 
  • Bastias, G., Pantoja, t., Leisewitz, T & Zárate, V. (2008)Health care reform in Chile. CMAJ. 179(12): 1289–1292.
  • Vega, J. (2011)Steps towards the health equity agenda in Chile. Rescatado el 10 de Noviembre desde:
  • Missoni, E &  Solimano, G. (2010) Towards Universal Health Coverage: the Chilean experience. World Health Report (2010). Rescatado el 10 de noviembre desde:
  • Bitrán R. Equidad en el Sistema de Salud Chileno. Mimeo, 1996.
  • Caviedes, Rafaelm. Pandora Médica: Medicina, Poder y Dinero. Editor CIEDESS: Santiago de Chile, 2004. Page: 9-27.
  • Chodowiecki C. Ruiz J. Introducción al cuidado de la persona enferma. 1994. Aountes de curso. Pontifia Universaidad Católica. Facultad de Medicina.
  • Departamento de Enfermería del Massachussets General Hospital de Boston. Manual de procedimientos de Enfermería.  Ed. Salvat 1984.
  • Fischer, R y P. Romaguera y A. Mizala. Alternativa de Solución para el financimiento de la salud en el sistema ISAPRE. Centro de Economía Aplicada, Departamento de Ingernieria Industrial, U. Chile. 1995.
  • Larraín, Felipe. Chile hacia el 2000: Reforma del Sector Salud. Centro de Estudios Públicos, Santiago, 1994.
  • Larrañaga, Osvaldo. Eficiencia y Equidad en el Sistema de Salud Chileno. Editor ECLAC. Page: 1-35.
  • Lolas, Fernando. Bioética y Antropología Médica. Editorial Mediterráneo: Santiago de Chile, 2000. Page: 17-28.
  • Lolas Fernando. Perfil del Sistema de Servicios de Salud Chile, Revista de Bioética, OPS, edición revisada Abril 2002. Page: 1-35.
  • Mardones José et al. La Seguridad Social en Salud y La Tercera Edad. Vol. 29, Nº 1-2, Escuela de Medicina PUC.
  • Martin S. Canobbio M. et al. Normas para el Cuidado de Pacientes. Ed. Doyma. 1988.
  • Ministerio de Salud. Estadísticas de salud en Chile: 2006.
  • Ministerio de Salud. Políticas de Salud y Plan Auge. Documento de trabajo. Departamento de estudio. 2006.

This course is offered during the regular semester and in the summer. For summer sections, the course schedule is condensed, but the content, learning outcomes, and contact hours are the same.