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 Nicaragua 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 Nicaraguan communities, where quality care is in short supply. The practicum team travels 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 38 in 2019. For more than 20 years, the last ten led by Dr. Jeff Osborne, it has served villagers in Nicaragua; previous trips were made to Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. At least 393 Manchester students, along with 122 different health care providers and 66 other staffers have served more than 44,000 patients since its inception. Half of practicum alumni have entered health care careers, including 89 physicians and 21 dentists.

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 2019

Baja Verapaz, Guatemala


  • 19 students
  • 16 providers: (6 physicians, 2 physician assistants, 1 nurse practitioner, 2 dentists, 1 pharmacist, 1 physical therapist, 1 nurse, 2 community health workers)
  • 1,986 medical consultations
  • 3,694 prescriptions filled
  • 408+ vaccinations given
  • 310 dental patients and 574 extractions
  • 2,296 total consultations
  • 420 lab tests performed
  • $25,600 used for reduced price medicines and medical/dental supplies
  • Thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical/dental supplies acquired through donation