This fall, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity junior nursing major Justin Alves was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Argentina to join with doc­tors and other health-​​care pro­fes­sionals there to assess the sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between the U.S. and Argen­tinean health-​​care systems.

He cred­ited his co-​​op expe­ri­ences with a hos­pital out­side of Buenos Aires and in Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hospital’s post-​​anesthesia care unit for earning him the opportunity.

I was the only person on the panel who had prac­tical expe­ri­ence working in both coun­tries,” said Alves, who has also worked in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Science’s Health in Motion van, which offers free health clinics to com­mu­nity mem­bers. “It was an honor to be a part of.”

The panel capped an expe­ri­ence of a life­time for Alves. In the fall, he earned a Pres­i­den­tial Global Schol­ar­ship to work at the Hos­pital Cen­tral de San Isidro, located out­side Buenos Aires. There, he shad­owed doc­tors while they inter­viewed patients, reviewed their diag­noses and treat­ment plans and answered their questions.

Through his co-​​op at the hos­pital, Alves learned about a non­profit called the Fun­dación Ciu­dadanos del Mundo, which edu­cates and offers resources to immi­grant pop­u­la­tions. He began vol­un­teering there and wrote a women’s health cur­riculum for the orga­ni­za­tion to help edu­cate immi­grants. After researching and speaking with local social workers, he devel­oped a five-​​day pro­gram of work­shops cov­ering sexual edu­ca­tion, preg­nancy and domestic violence.

It’s exciting to know that I helped fill a gap in health care here,” Alves said.

His expe­ri­ence came full circle when he met offi­cials from the U.S. Embassy through his vol­un­teer expe­ri­ence with Fun­dación Ciu­dadanos del Mundo.

His co-​​op with the hos­pital made him an ideal pan­elist for the embassy-​​sponsored event, said Alves, noting that his hos­pital work pro­vided an “in-​​the-​​trenches” view of health care in Argentina. His pre­sen­ta­tion, in Spanish, focused on his clin­ical experiences.

Strength­ening his Spanish, he hopes, will also prove invalu­able when it comes time to com­mu­ni­cate with patients and com­mu­nity mem­bers back in Boston.

Alves praised Northeastern’s co-​​op pro­gram for opening his eyes to new oppor­tu­ni­ties. His expe­ri­ence, he said, affirmed his interest in pur­suing public health.

I would now con­sider working in an inter­na­tional public-​​health set­ting, when I hadn’t before,” Alves said.