Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Social Work Students Go To University in Mexico City

By Anne Dutton
St. Olaf College

We spent a week in Mexico City, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). UNAM is a large university (238,000 students) that is home to the National School of Social Work. A couple of weeks ago we had an “intercambio” with UNAM students and to finish off our exchange we headed to Mexico City to see the school and spend time with more UNAM students and professors.

Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social = National School of Social Work

One of the most interesting discussions we had throughout the week was about the differences in curriculum between the United States and Mexican social work programs. UNAM social work students start into the social work program from their first semester at the university and have all of their classes scheduled out for nine semesters. There are three practicums that need to be completed to graduate: one at a community level, one at a regional level and one in an area of specialization.

We visited two practicum sites during the week and the one that really stood out to me was the visit to the National Institute of Respiratory Illnesses (INER). INER is both a functioning hospital and research center for all forms of respiratory illnesses and we visited the social work students who were completing their specialization practicum in the hospital.
A couple of the UNAM Social Work students gave us a tour of the UNAM

The students gave us an opening presentation which lead to a discussion about differences between health care delivery in the United States vs. Mexico. This discussion was a great follow-up to the discussion we had during the Medicaid policy presentation with the UNAM students who visited us in Cuernavaca. After the discussion, the students took us around on a tour of the INER hospital facility.

Because a lot of the problems with the Mexican health care system revolve around the quality of the care, rather than access to the care, it was interesting to see the premiere hospital for respiratory illnesses. Overall, the visit to Mexico City and UNAM was a great chance to get out of the Cuernavaca area and get to know another section of Mexico.

The last day of our exchange, we went for a ride down this canal in Xochimilco

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