Discovering Culture & Health Care (DCH)


Program Dates: March 3-10, 2025
Open to: University students studying in a health-related field (pre-med, pharmacy, nursing, public health, etc)
Location: Silicon Valley, with visits to San Francisco & Stanford University
Application Deadline: Round 1: October 27 | Round 2: December 1 | Round 3: January 5

The Discovering Culture & Health Care (DCH) Program introduces current challenges and social issues shaping the US health care system while exploring the diverse and innovative culture of Silicon Valley. This program is ideal for 1st and 2nd-year medical, nursing, or pharmacy students with moderate English-language abilities who desire an introduction to the US culture and healthcare system.


Since launching in 1996 in collaboration with Tokyo Women’s Medical and Tokyo Medical Universities, VIA’s health care programs have brought over 750 university students from around the world studying in various health care fields to Silicon Valley to explore issues related to culture, society, diversity, and innovation in the context of health care.

VIA Health Care Programs Overview (2024)

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Program Costs

$2,450 USD program participation fee includes:

  • Accommodations (7 nights)
  • Local transportation to/from the airport and around the San Francisco Bay Area for program activities
  • Most scheduled activities
  • Welcome lunch & farewell dinner
  • 24-hour on-site staff support
Additional costs not included in the program fee:

  • International airfare (approx. $2,000 USD)
  • Travel insurance (approx. $25 USD)
  • Most meals (approx. $200 USD)
  • Optional activities (approx. $100 USD)
  • Personal shopping expenses ($100+ USD)
$2,450 USD – Program Fee*
$2,425+ USD – Additional costs (estimated)
$4,875+ USD – Total Cost to Participate (estimated)

*Participants who join multiple VIA programs are eligible for a $200 discount on every subsequent program participation.

COVID-Related Expenses
Participants will be responsible for any medical testing, care, or additional travel costs associated with COVID infection and treatment, including, but not limited to, the cost of modifying, extending, or canceling any lodging or transportation arrangements before, during, or after the program.

Program Participation Fee Payment & Cancellation Policies

Invoice & Payment Deadline

If accepted to the program, you (or your university, if your university is paying on your behalf) will receive an invoice from VIA’s finance department with instructions to complete the payment within approximately one week of confirming your participation. Full payment is due 30 days from the invoice issue date. If the invoice is issued 30 days or less before the program start date, full payment is due when you receive the invoice.

Participant Cancellation

VIA will return 50% of the program fee if your cancellation is confirmed at least 30 days before the program start date. If you cancel less than 30 days before the program, we are unable to refund your program fee. Partial refunds will be considered in extenuating circumstances.

In-Person Program Modification or Cancellation

VIA may convert an in-person program to a virtual format at any time prior to the program start dates if travel and in-person activities are not possible due to natural disasters, including pandemics. If an in-person program is converted to a virtual format, VIA will return the amount of the in-person program fee paid that exceeds the virtual program fee of $900. The exact amount returned will reflect any program fee reductions applied to the participant’s fee.

If you choose to not participate in the virtual program, the participant cancellation policy will apply to the virtual program fee amount. If the program is cancelled entirely and a virtual participation option is not offered, you will receive a full refund.

「アメリカで過ごした日々は本当にかけがえのないものでした。素晴らしい友達ができ、モテベーションもあがり、大きく視野を広げることが出来ました。各プログラムでは数多く発言することができ、とても充実したものでした。ただ海外旅行に行くよりも絶対にこのアクティビティはお勧めです。みなさんにも素晴らしい体験が訪れることをお祈りしております。」“The days I spent in America were truly irreplaceable. I was able to make amazing friends, my motivation increased, and my perspectives widened greatly. At each activity, I had many opportunities to speak, which were very substantial experiences. I definitely recommend this program over just going on a vacation. I wish that everyone will also enjoy such wonderful experience as well.” – EHC Spring 2013 Participant

“If you want to widen your thoughts, you should participate! There are a lot of chances to widen your thoughts and [meet] great friends in this program. This program changed my thoughts 180 degree.” – EHC Spring 2022 Participant

“Youths who are interested to explore about health care and try innovative ways should join this program as this program brings up many different kinds of health topics that are very useful in the medical field. And you can discuss whatever you think related with the topic and get the advice, suggestions from professionals and experts. And the learning environment is flexible, supportive, helpful and totally stress-free. You will gain more knowledge and idea than expected after the program. 100% recommended.” – EHC Spring 2022 Participant

“If you think you are not confident enough to express your ideas in English in front of others, I promise that this program is a great opportunity for you to gain some confidence. Actually I was in this kind of situation before this program, but great fellows ice-broke my mindset in a nice way and I felt myself changed successfully! I hope you will enjoy this program!” – EHC Spring 2022 Participant

“If you want knowledge on health care system, new insight, English skills…, there is no choice [but] to join EHC. You will definitely find all of them, and more. EHC is not a forum to show off your knowledge, skills, and respectable personality. Here is a place to find allies, be honest, be curious, try to understand each other, watch reality in healthcare, and hopefully take a first step towards brighter future of your career and healthcare!” – EHC Spring 2022 Participant

“EHC introduced me to people with various backgrounds, interests, and fields, and there were many new ideas and perspectives that made my eye open! It is a great opportunity to be brave and educate yourself!” – EHC Spring 2021 Participant

2025 Application Timeline (tentative)

There are multiple application deadlines for university students and professionals from all regions. Some universities also have a separate timeline, which will be listed below. This is to accommodate differences in everyone’s schedules and allow our staff time to review applications.

Who should apply by the Round 1 Deadline?

Applicants who will require a visitor visa (B-1/B-2) to enter the US are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to apply by this deadline.

Application Process
Round 1
(US Time)
Round 2
(US Time)
Round 3
(US Time)

Application Deadline Oct. 27 Dec. 1 Jan. 5

Interviews  Nov. 4-7 Dec. 9-12 Jan. 13-16

Results Nov. 8 Dec. 13 Jan. 17

Participation Confirmation Nov. 17 Dec. 22 Jan. 26


Sample Program Schedule

Although the schedule has not been finalized, we expect to have visits and/or guest speakers from many of the same organizations from past years.

Pre-Program Orientation
The orientation session will take place a few weeks before the program, to provide an overview of the course and review of pre-departure preparation tasks (this session will be recorded).

Day 1: Arrival & Orientation
  • Arrival at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Hotel check-in
  • Welcome lunch
  • Program orientation & introductory activities
  • Dinner

Day 2: Innovation in Health Care (Part 1)
  • Breakfast
  • Icebreaker
  • Participant Self-Introduction Presentations
  • Setting Intentions & Goals
  • Lunch
  • Introduction to Silicon Valley & Design-Thinking
  • Stanford Campus Tour
  • Innovator Mindset Activity
  • Stanford Medical Center Visits
  • Reflection Session

Day 3: Innovation in Health Care (Part 2)
  • Breakfast
  • Icebreaker
  • Google Campus Tour
  • Apple Visitor Center Visit
  • Lunch
  • Health Care Organization Visit
  • Reflection Session
  • Dinner

Day 4: Homelessness & Health Care Disparities
  • Breakfast
  • Icebreaker
  • Workshop: Humanizing Homelessness
  • Lunch
  • Volunteer with San Francisco charities providing access to health care for unhoused individuals
  • Reflection
  • Dinner

Day 5: San Francisco Exploration Day

Day 6: Health Care for the LGBTQ+ Community
  • Breakfast
  • Guest Speaker: Marriage Equality
  • Lunch
  • Castro District Tour
  • Site Visit: Strut Clinic
  • Reflection
  • Dinner

Day 7: Reflection & Synthesis
  • Breakfast
  • Icebreaker
  • Design Your Life Activity
  • Reflection & Synthesis
  • Evaluation
  • Celebration Dinner
  • Graduation Ceremony

Day 8: Departures
  • Breakfast
  • Hotel check-out

Minimum Participation Requirements

In order to be eligible to participate in this program, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age at the beginning of the program.
  • Be eligible to receive travel authorization to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of the program.
  • Be able to provide proof of vaccination and/or health status required for entry to the US or re-entry to your home country that is in effect during your dates of travel. It is your responsibility to confirm which health-related regulations may apply to you.
  • Be willing to undergo diagnostic tests if experiencing symptoms of a communicable illness considered serious by public health officials or if required for site visits by the host institution. A positive test or inability to meet requirements for a site visit may limit your ability to participate in program activities and/or may necessitate self-isolation during the program.
  • Disclose any life-threatening or significant allergies, dietary restrictions, medical conditions or illnesses, and physical limitations as they relate to the program and listed activities.
  • Obtain overseas travel medical insurance and provide proof of insurance coverage to VIA prior to arriving in the United States.
  • Be committed to attending all activities, both before and during the program, and participating fully.

Application Process

To see if this program is a good match, we want to get to know you: your passion, motivation, interests, and experiences! Please share about yourself (in English) in the following sections:

  1. Personal & Contact Information – Share some basic information about yourself and your preferred contact details
  2. Academic & Professional Information – Share about your academic and professional experience
  3. Deeper Questions – Share your story and show your personality by answering the following short essay questions (up to 250 words each):
    • Why do you want to participate in the program? What do you hope to learn or achieve? What do you hope to contribute?
    • Describe 1-2 health care topics or issues you are interested in, and why they interest you. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: organ transplantation, free clinics for underserved communities, geriatrics, the healthcare system (including insurance), the medical education system, etc.
    • Why did you choose to become a health care professional? How do you hope this program will impact your studies and career?
    • Help us get to know you better by writing 1-2 paragraphs about your hobbies, your character, and your plans after graduation.
  4. Next Steps – ​Interview: The final step will be a 20-minute interview on Zoom with the Program Director. If your application is selected, the program director will follow up with you to confirm the interview time.