Andres Rivera's Field Experience with UCSD HFiT

Updated: Aug 16

Andres Angel Rivera was a double major in Global Health (B.S.) and Anthropology-Archaeology, with a minor in Biology. For the upcoming school year, he will be attending the Global Health Master's Program at UCSD. He enjoys traveling, exercise and learning. At the moment, his career interests include epidemiology, Infectious Disease research, and clinical trials.

For two quarters, Andres volunteered at the UCSD Health Frontiers in Tijuana Student-run Free Clinic (HFiT) in Tijuana. The clinic was located above a soup kitchen, and most of the patients who come to visit the clinic were from underserved communities. Patients often comprise of immigrants, refugees, deportees, homeless, prostitutes, and poor or undocumented people who would not be able to visit a hospital.


Some challenges Andres faced during the Field Experience included long distances to get to Tijuana, and border wait times. The brand-new trolley station at UCSD helped with this challenge as it provided a free trip to the border for the volunteer team. iPads at the clinic were also available so that students could volunteer in an online environment if they were attending classes through Zoom. However, in spite of having to wake up at 5am and travel long distances to get into Tijuana, Andres would still rather go to the clinic and experience it in-person rather than online.

I would recommend buying a Global Entry pass for students who want to do HFIT, as they could use the Global Entry pass to get back into the United States from Mexico without waiting in a long line.

For his Field Experience Andres learned multiple skills, including medical administration and medical scribing skills. He learned how to use NimboX to log and keep track of patient data, as well as the rules of privacy associated with working at the clinic. Andres learned about the common health risks that patients at the clinic faced, and was made familiar with how different tools worked, such as glucose and HIV tests. Alongside the other volunteers, he got to shadow Doctor Burgos as he interacted with patients and helped diagnose and treat them; Doctor Burgos would explain every step of the process, and would further go on to explain which medicines were used to treat each case. Furthermore, Andres learned how to write research in the American Public Health format (along with learning about tools to help with the writing process, such as Zotero), and wrote research about various topics related to the clinic.


During his time in the clinic, Andres and the other volunteers did not have much, if any, free time. Nonetheless, once clinical work in Tijuana is finished for the day, Andres would often grab tacos alongside the other volunteers- after which they would cross the border together. He would recommend any Global Health student to apply for this Field Experience- especially in conjunction with attending human health classes in UCSD, as the they can help better understand the health issues that patients at the clinic may face.

I felt that I gained a lot of knowledge from this FE, both in terms of clinical procedures, and in terms of health policies and the healthcare structure in Tijuana, Mexico.
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