Pharmacy, Natural & Health Sciences

Biology-Chemistry - Medical Practicum

A Journey of Discovery and Service

The Medical Practicum at Manchester University is more than a three-credit class – it’s a life-changing experience for MU students. While the nearly three-week-long excursion to Central America is excellent for anyone who is motivated, it's probably most useful for those with a future in health care who have yet to apply to professional and graduate schools. It often helps students to discover their true passions and steer their next steps.

The faculty-guided practicum partners students with a team of U.S. physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to serve patients of all ages in Central American communities, where quality care is in short supply. The practicum team has traveled through mountains, jungles and rivers – by bus, 4-wheel-drive vehicles and dugout canoes – to remote villages – often without running water or electricity.

Besides serving hundreds of patients with medical and dental needs, as well as animals in need of veterinary care, practicum students experience a culture very different from their own and observe first-hand the challenges faced by the people of this developing area.


Founded in 1981 by Dr. Ed Miller, the practicum turned 43 in 2024. After serving villagers in Nicaragua for more than 20 years, 2019 saw a relocation to Maya villages in Guatemala. Previous trips were made to Panama, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. To date 452 Manchester students, along with 147 different health care providers and 72 other staffers have served more than 50,000 patients since its inception. Over half of practicum alumni have entered health care careers, including 102 physicians, 28 dentists, and 32 pharmacists.

An Embodiment of Mission

The practicum exemplifies Manchester’s mission to graduate persons who lead “principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition,” and is a testament to Manchester’s distinguished reputation in the sciences and excellence in preparation for health care careers. Students and health care providers pay their own travel expenses, but it takes donations and grants to purchase medical and dental supplies. Learn more about participating in or donating to Manchester’s Medical Practicum at


Medical Practicum, January 2024

Baja Verapaz, Guatemala


  • 11 students
  •  providers: (3 physicians, 1 physician assistants, 1 doctor of midwifery, 1 nurse practitioner/certified nurse midwife, 1 nurse, 1 pharmacist, 2 dentists, 1 4th-Year M.D. student, 2 Pharm.D. students, 1 M.S. in PGx student, from the U.S.
  • 2 dentists, 1 dental student, 2 Mayan-speaking nurses, 1 psychologist, 12 interpreters, and 6 community development workers from Guatemala
  • 1413 medical consultations
  • 2,424 prescriptions filled
  • 422 dental extractions
  • 359 lab tests performed
  • $28,948 used for reduced price medicines and medical/dental supplies
  • Thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical/dental supplies acquired through donation