Immersive Pre-health/Pre-med Adventure Courses
Come explore the beautiful Pacific coast of Costa Rica and learn from physicians who work around the world. Adventure through jungles, earn your WFR and global health certifications, and take part in real-world medical training as you build your resume, network, and your travelogue.
Undergraduate college students, graduates, and gap years students from any school are encouraged to join.
This unique program is all-inclusive (with exception of airfare to Costa Rica), including in-country transportation, lodging, 3 restaurant meals a day, WFR certification, and exciting group activities/tours. We limit the total number of participants to 20 to ensure effective learning and individualized attention.
Where are students staying?
Students arrive at the San Jose Airport where our shuttle will pick students up for a beautiful 4-hour drive to the Pacific Coast and our lovely eco-lodge at Hacienda Baru. We hold classes there, as well as provide free time for swimming, surf lessons (extra cost), natural history tours, whitewater rafting and more. On the final morning, our shuttle will take students back to San Jose Airport for flights home.
Suitability & Requirements
Students must purchase health and travel/evacuation insurance (GeoBlue/HTH Worldwide Required Travel Insurance
You will need a valid passport/visa.
Pre-class online assignments total approximately 5 hours required
Must be 18 years or older
Program Benefits Include:
Please note, due to the rapidly changing landscape of our world during the COVID-19 pandemic, our refund policy has temporarily changed. If we need to cancel a course due to local policies, you will receive a full refund. If you need to drop the course due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, you will receive a refund. Please ask Meagan.Rivers@cuanschutz.edu for other circumstances.
You have the option to register and reserve a spot in the class with a $500 USD payment, and payment of the full balance is due 30 days before the start of the course. If payment is not received 30 days prior to the start of class, you will be dropped from the course. If you register for a class fewer than 30 days prior to its start date, you are expected to pay in full on the day of registration. If you have any questions or concerns please contact course coordinator, Meagan Rivers at Meagan.Rivers@CUAnschutz.edu.
The University of Colorado reserves the right to make international cancellations up to 6 weeks and domestic cancellations up to 4 weeks prior to the course start date, in which case a full refund will be provided. The University of Colorado will not be held liable for any travel expenses or any other loss of funds the participants may incur due to the cancellation of the course. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.
Refunds of FULL PAYMENTS, minus a 15% administrative fee, will be granted 60 days or more prior to start of the program.
Between 30 and 59 days prior to the start of the program, a 50% refund of the full payment will be granted.
No refunds will be granted for cancellations made 29 days or fewer prior to the start of the program. Please note that partial payments and deposits are not eligible for refunds.
Full payment is expected 30 days prior to the start of the course. Lack of full payment within 30 days of course’s start date will result in being dropped from the course without refund.
Student Code of Conduct
Students will be required to read, sign, and follow a Code of Conduct that includes both rights and responsibilities. The code will describe learning and especially behavioral expectations, which will be similar to codes expected at most higher education institutions. The code will also describe consequences if there is failure to abide by the rules, which could include immediate suspension from the program, in which case the student will be responsible for leaving the class and property, with no refund provided.
Voluntary, involuntary, or medical separation
Should a student choose to leave the class early, be asked to leave the program early (see “Code of Conduct” below), or need to leave due to medical issues, s/he will be responsible for her/his own travel home and for any associated costs.
Rights and Responsibilities: Student Code of Conduct
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Wilderness & Emergency Medicine Program
Students in the University of Colorado School of Medicine Wilderness program are members of the University community. As such, students are expected to uphold University standards, which include abiding by international, state, civil, and criminal laws and all University laws, policies and standards of conduct. These standards assist in promoting a safe and welcoming community; therefore all students and participants must uphold and abide by them.
The University strives to make the learning community a place of study, work, recreation, and residence where people are treated, and treat one another, with respect and courtesy. The University views the Student Conduct Process as a learning experience that can result in growth and personal understanding of one’s responsibilities and privileges within both the University community and the greater community. Students who violate these standards may be subject to the actions described in the University’s Student Code of Conduct. These procedures are designed to provide a welcoming learning community and fairness to all who are involved in the process.
Philosophy of Student Conduct: We strive to learn from one another in an educational environment that holds mutual respect for individuals and self-responsibility for behaviors community in high regard. Students who engage in behavior that conflicts with established standards, laws, policies, and guidelines may be dismissed from the program. Every member of the student community must assume responsibility for becoming educated about the various University standards, policies, and guidelines.
Diversity Statement: We are committed to a campus community where diversity is appreciated and valued, and where all individuals are treated fairly and with respect. We encourage curiosity, open communication, and continuous learning as ways to create a socially just environment. We respect the right for individuals to disagree with ideas and philosophies different from their own. However, we do not permit any form of behavior that places anyone in dangerous, discriminatory, or harassing environments. It is against the basic nature of this community for anyone to demean or discriminate against another human being.
Creating a Safe Learning Environment: We strive to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment and community. Such a caring, educational community does not tolerate physical or psychological threats, abuse, hazing, harassment, intimidation, or violence directed against a person, sexual or otherwise. In addition, students engaging in such behavior are subject to the University conduct processes.
Alcohol and Drugs: Students in a University of Colorado School of Medicine global education program must abide by host country laws and local institutional regulations with respect to alcohol and drugs. Unless permitted by host country law and local institutional regulations, participants will not possess, consume, furnish, or distribute any alcoholic beverages. The University of Colorado School of Medicine has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to the possession, use, manufacture, production, sale, exchange, or distribution of illegal drugs. Students are responsible for knowing and obeying the laws of the host country as well as all local institutional regulations, regarding alcohol and other drugs. Violations of law or policy may result in immediate dismissal from the program.
University Policies: Students are required to abide by University of Colorado School of Medicine/Anschutz Medical Campus policies, including CU Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Code of Conduct, while enrolled in the program. For the Code of Conduct please see http://www.ucdenver.edu/life/services/standards/Documents/CUDenver-CodeofConduct.pdf
Host Country Customs: Students are responsible for abiding by the laws and customs of the host country, community, institution and program. In addition they are responsible for being sensitive to the social norms of the host culture. Students are also subjected to the disciplinary codes and processes of the host institution.
Dismissal: If a student seriously disrupts the group learning process, or if student’s behavior gives the faculty or program director reasonable cause to believe that continued presence in the program poses a danger to the health or safety of persons or property, or impedes, disrupts or obstructs the program in any way, the student will face immediate dismissal. Alcohol, drug, or weapons-related violations, harassment, or assault are so seriously problematic that dismissal is highly likely. Before a student is removed from the program, she or he will have an opportunity to explain her or his conduct to the faculty or program director(s). A decision of dismissal from the program would be final, immediate, and no refund would be made. Transportation and other expenses related to the student’s return home country would be at the student’s own expense.
Health: Students are responsible for their own health maintenance during the program. In the event of serious illness, accident or emergency, students are responsible for informing an appropriate program official and for granting permission to authorize emergency medical treatment so that assistance may be secured and so that designated emergency contact(s) may be notified. Students authorize U.S. Embassies and Consulates to release information concerning their welfare and whereabouts to the University of Colorado.
To do 3 months prior to departure :
- Ensure passport and any other necessary travel documents are current through 6 months after your departure from Costa Rica.
- Visit your personal health care provider with this trip in mind. Take care of vaccinations, prescriptions, and any medical issues (see below)
- Make travel arrangements to Costa Rica, including travel insurance
- Complete and return Waiver and Student Information Form (will be sent to you shortly)
- MANDATORY – Purchase international medical and evacuation insurance through UC Denver (see Detailed Program Information) and send a copy of your confirmation to Meagan.Rivers@cuanschutz.edu.
- Refer to this link for more information.
To do 2 months prior to departure:
- Get dental check-up and take care of any dental issues
- Review the packing list (see below) and be sure you have all necessary items
- Review and confirm your travel itinerary
- Submit your travel itinerary and a photocopy of your passport to Meagan.Rivers@cuanschutz.edu.
Entry to Costa Rica Requirements (as of March 1, 2021):
U.S. citizens from all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C. are allowed to enter Costa Rica via flights from the United States or other countries. Visitors arriving to Costa Rica do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Visitors traveling to Costa Rica need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica. In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USDand, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USDfor extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness. It is also possible to purchase a Costa Rican medical insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS)or Sagicorof Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted in Costa Rica. In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, U.S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days. (To prove intent to exit, U.S. citizens must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket).
Requirements for Return to US(as of March 1, 2021):
Effective January 26, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery
Please see CDC’s FAQfor answers to questions about the new requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.
If needed, will make arrangements for a shuttle from our ecolodge at Hacienda Baru to a nearby city for a COVID test in time to return to the States on the 16th. Costs for the medical insurance policy and for a COVID test are the responsibility of the participant. All students are required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The class tuition is inclusive, covering in-country transportation, shared lodging, tips, all meals, group and safety gear, and program activities described above. It does not include personal clothing/gear, airfare to Costa Rica, departure tax ($29 at time of writing), medical/evacuation insurance, any alcohol, or incidentals/activity expenditures accrued during limited free time.
Travel to Costa Rica
We will meet participants at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, Costa Rica’s main airport just outside the capital, San Jose.
Our chartered bus will be leaving the airport at 1 pm sharp. If your flight is delayed and you miss the bus we will need to charter you a car, the cost of which will be your responsibility (~ $200). For that reason we recommend you arrive in Costa Rica the night before. We will be happy to help make hotel and airport pick-up arrangements, the costs of which are the responsibility of the student.
While it is not recommended, students can arrive late and/or depart early with special permission. A shuttle to/from Hacienda Baru and any overnight accommodations near the airport can be arranged, but costs would be the responsibility of the student.
The Costa Rica program is an intense learning experience. This is not a vacation! Classes will typically run from 8 or 9 am to 4 or 5 pm and will include some early morning hikes, evening lectures, and optional night hikes. Three meals a day will be served at the lodge restaurant (see below for more information). While there will be lots of fun and adventures, participants must be prepared for strenuous and challenging learning throughout the program. Please refer to the course schedule for more details.
Accommodations and Food
Accommodations, as well as meal service, will be at Hacienda Baru (www.haciendabaru.com), a lovely if simple eco-lodge situated on 800 acres between jungle highlands and its own Pacific beach. Participants will be in two to three bedroom cabins; each cabin has its own bathroom with shower, a kitchenette, a fan, and small common area. Participants will randomly be assigned to single gender, shared rooms. We will do our best to provide single gender cabins, but cannot promise that will be possible.
Three hot meals are provided daily (with the exception of the first and last day of class). At Hacienda Baru there is a healthy, very hearty, but somewhat limited menu to choose from for meals. Vegetarian options are always available, and while no promises can be made, we will attempt to accommodate special dietary needs.
Experiential Learning Experiences
This is not a typical (i.e., boring!) lecture-style college class. If so, why go all the way to Costa Rica just to sit in a lecture hall? No, this emergency and wilderness medicine class is ACTIVE! If a student is looking to be a passive learner, sitting back and just taking notes, s/he would best look elsewhere.
While there will be some didactic lectures, a common and integral part of this class are experiential learning experiences. These will include demonstrations, case studies, scenarios, and wilderness activities. Particularly these latter learning experiences will involve participants being active, ranging from acting as a patient on the ground, to lifting/carrying “patients” (or acting as one), to participating in adventure activities including tree top canopy tours, jungle hikes, and whitewater rafting.
Students need to be able to bend to the ground, help carry a patient, climb short ladders, hike uneven/slippery terrain, and get in and out of river rafts.
For all experiential learning experiences, we will practice “challenge by choice,” meaning that participants can participate to the degree they are comfortable and/or able. This does not mean participants won’t be pushing their comfort zones—we will actively promote that!—but that no one is going to be forced to do something for which they are unprepared or feel pressured into doing. In these cases will do our best to adapt activities so that the participant can participate in some modified manner.
Limited free time will be made available most days to allow for siestas, informal student discussion, swimming at the lodge pool or beach, hiking, or just hanging out. During free time participants will be on their own safety-wise, thus a buddy system will be encouraged (required for swimming).
There are a number of inherent hazards involved in travel, visiting a tropical country, and participating in emergency and wilderness medicine training. These include, but are not limited to, in-country transportation, swimming, experiential learning activities, illnesses related to travel and the tropics, bites and stings, hiking, and crime.
Thankfully, Costa Rica, particularly the area we will be visiting, enjoys very little crime and a healthy environment. See below for more health information.
We will take active and robust measures to protect against hazards including careful site and activity selection, conservative decision-making and program rules, protective equipment, and especially student education. Program leaders are well experienced. Dr. Miner has led over a half dozen trips to Costa Rica and over a dozen in total to Central and South America.
Health and Costa Rica
Like most of the Caribbean, Central and South America, Costa Rica has had a recent series of Zika cases. If you are pregnant, or planning on having children in the next year, we would advise you not to travel to Costa Rica. The majority of cases of Zika in adults are low risk, resulting in no symptoms. For adults who do develop symptoms, most people experience a mild flu like illness associated with a rash and red eyes. We would advise you to talk to your doctor about any medical concerns prior to travel. Please contact us if you have any other questions.
Course Directors will both be carrying cell phones. We’ll also have a group first aid kit. A clinic and hospital are within a half hour to hour from Hacienda Baru.
Clothing and Gear
Light is right. For this class participants need very little in the way of clothing or gear. In terms of clothing: a few pairs of shorts, a few short sleeve shirts, optional long pants and shirt for bug/sun protection, tennis shoes, a pair of sandals, socks, and underwear. In terms of gear/supplies: a day pack, sun protection (hat, sun glasses, sun block), writing instrument and notebook, watch, toiletries, bug repellant, personal first aid kit (band-aids, pain relief, etc.), a travel towel, and some optional items. A full clothing and gear list, including recommended optional items, is included.
US citizens, coming from the US, need a current passport; no visa is required. For citizens of other countries, or for US citizens traveling directly to Costa Rica from some South American, African, or Asian countries, please check with the US State Department.
All participants are required to purchase mandatory travel insurance through University of Colorado to participate in this program. The following are instructions on how to obtain this insurance:
GeoBlue offers an appropriate travel plan called Voyager for non-CU students traveling to Costa Rica on the CU sponsored trip. Premium is based on trip length, age, zip code and offers students a choice of deductibles. Please go to this website: http://www.eciservices.com where, on the top menu, you should select “Services”, then, on the left menu, select “Other Insurances” and, at the bottom of the page, select “GeoBlue Travel Insurance for Students and Faculty”. Once in the GeoBlue website, the non CU students would select “Voyager / Single Trip” to generate a quote and purchase their trip insurance. Please note: the “Voyager Choice” plan requires that students are currently enrolled in a Primary Health Plan, whereas the “Voyager Essential” plan is for students who are not currently covered by a Primary Health Plan.
Questions? Reach out to us today!
December 15 – 23, 2022
July 6 – 14, 2023
December 15 – 23, 2023
Reserve your spot in one of our upcoming courses by paying a $500 deposit. Remainder of the total balance required 30 days prior to the start of class. All students are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.