Search Search guidebooks
  • Intern

A Review of the Best Medical Internships for Your Gap Year

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

Embarking on a gap year is an extraordinary journey, brimming with opportunities for personal and professional growth. For those at the cusp of their careers in medicine, whether as aspiring doctors, researchers, or healthcare professionals, a gap year represents a crucial period of transition and transformation. It is a unique phase that allows individuals to step back from the traditional educational pathway and immerse themselves in experiences that enrich their understanding of the world and their role in it.

Internships, in particular, play a pivotal role during this time. They offer more than just a glimpse into the practical aspects of healthcare; they provide a hands-on experience that shapes the foundational skills necessary for a successful career in medicine.

Benefits of Internships During a Gap Year


1. Exploring Self-Identity and Growth

Embracing a gap year is like opening a door to self-exploration and personal advancement. It’s an extraordinary time to break free from your usual routine, dive into new passions, and gain a deeper insight into who you are and what you stand for. This period of self-reflection is invaluable, particularly in shaping a solid base for a healthcare career.

2. Broadening Horizons with Cultural Insights

For those aspiring to join or already working in the medical field, immersing in different cultures and lifestyles is important. It broadens your understanding of the diverse perspectives and experiences of patients from varied backgrounds. Acknowledging and appreciating the multitude of social, political, and economic influences on people’s health choices enhances your empathy and insight. This cultural enrichment not only makes you a more empathetic healthcare provider but also elevates your profile as a prospective medical school applicant.

3. Acquiring Practical Experience

Utilizing a gap year to gather real-world experience can significantly bolster your future opportunities in medicine. Whether you opt to volunteer, work in healthcare environments, or engage in research projects, these opportunities are a platform to hone your skills and deepen your understanding of the medical field. Such hands-on experiences not only set you apart from other candidates but also showcase your dedication to pursuing a career in medicine.

4. Preventing Overwhelm and Stress

The journey through a medical career is often intense and stressful. By choosing to take a gap year, you allow yourself a vital pause from such pressures. This break is not just a period of rest; it’s a chance to rejuvenate and mentally gear up for the demanding path ahead. Such a strategic timeout can lessen the likelihood of burnout, thereby enhancing your mental and emotional well-being as you navigate your medical career.

5. Cultivating Professional Relationships

Networking and forging connections are vital in every career, especially in the field of medicine. A gap year spent working or volunteering in related sectors presents a golden opportunity to build meaningful professional relationships. These interactions might lead you to find a mentor, or open doors to exciting job prospects in the future. Moreover, a gap year is an excellent chance to encounter individuals with similar interests, expanding your circle of friends and colleagues in the medical community.

Top Medical Internship Opportunities

Maximo Nivel

healthcare volunteering in Latin America

Maximo Nivel, established in Peru in 2003, offers transformative gap year experiences, combining hands-on work, language learning, and skill-building courses. Accredited and globally recognized, it provides programs in Latin America across Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Participants can engage in over 150 community service projects and Spanish language classes at all levels. Unique to Maximo Nivel is the Freshman Year Abroad program, allowing students to spend a semester or year abroad, earning academic credits before entering university.

For those seeking practical work experience, Maximo Nivel’s international internships in various career fields provide a platform to develop professional skills and a global perspective. These internships, ranging from 4 to 24 weeks, start every Monday year-round, offering a blend of cultural immersion and career development, ideal for gap year students aiming to stand out in the global job market.

Dental Internships In Latin America: Maximo Nivel offers a chance to work alongside local dentists and learn about oral healthcare in Latin America. Interns assist in private and public clinics, gaining experience in various dental specialties, preparing materials, and enhancing medical Spanish skills. Requirements include being at least 19 years old, possessing medical education credentials, intermediate Spanish proficiency, and readiness for a flexible work schedule. Internships are available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, each providing a unique perspective on dental care in different environments.

Medical Internships In Latin America:  This program provides participants with unique insights into nationalized healthcare systems facing rural access challenges and limited resources. Interns work in public and private hospitals, clinics, and assisted living facilities, assisting medical professionals with patient care, triage, health education, and medical campaigns. These placements provide practical medical experience, enhance Spanish medical terminology, and foster a global medical perspective. Requirements include being at least 19, possessing medical credentials, and intermediate Spanish skills, with opportunities available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.

Medical & Healthcare Volunteer Programs: Participants in Maximo Nivel’s Medical & Healthcare programs across Latin America contribute significantly to regions with limited access to healthcare. In countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, understaffed hospitals and clinics in rural areas provide an enriching environment for participants to assist healthcare professionals. Tasks may include patient care, medical campaigns, and learning about local healthcare systems. Participants must be flexible, hardworking, and at least 18 years old, with a commitment to positive impact and community service. This program offers a deep dive into medical practices in developing areas, enhancing participants’ understanding of global health issues.

Intern Abroad HQ (IVHQ)

medical volunteer abroad

Intern Abroad HQ, part of International Volunteer HQ, offers a wide array of internships for gap year students, tailored to individual career goals or academic requirements. Their selection of Medical internships provides hands-on experience in various medical fields such as midwifery, medicine, radiology, pharmacy, and nursing. These internships are customizable for students, graduates, and young professionals to meet specific career or academic goals. Participants work alongside experienced professionals, improving healthcare access and quality for local populations.

These Medical & Healthcare internships align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-being. They increase access to free healthcare and health education globally, contributing to a better standard of living and well-being. Moreover, these internships cater to students seeking practical experience in their career field while supporting global sustainable development.

Emergency Medicine Internships in Arusha, Tanzania: This program offers a chance to observe and learn from diverse medical procedures in hospitals and clinics, enhance healthcare skills alongside experienced professionals, and explore local culture and landscapes. It is suitable for those with at least one year of medical or nursing study and proficient in English.

Public Health Internships in Cape Town, South Africa: This program involves working with healthcare professionals on education, prevention, and treatment in local communities, offering exposure to diverse health projects and clinics, and suitable for students in fields like Public Health and Health Sciences; includes opportunities to explore Cape Town and its surroundings.

Healthcare Internships in Costa Rica: This program provides an immersive experience in clinics or hospitals, where interns assist and shadow local healthcare staff, with placements tailored to their experience and Spanish language proficiency; suitable for pre-med, medicine, and nursing students seeking to understand healthcare in a Costa Rican context.

Midwifery Internships in Cusco, Peru: This program offers hands-on experience in birthing homes and clinics, working alongside local midwives to support expecting mothers, designed for pre-med, medical, or nursing students with intermediate to advanced Spanish skills, and includes exploring the rich culture of Cusco and its surroundings.

Medical Internships in Guatemala: This internship offers tailored experiences for students from pre-med to advanced levels, providing opportunities to learn from local doctors and nurses in diverse settings like rural clinics and schools, with a requirement of intermediate Spanish proficiency, and a focus on enhancing healthcare access in communities.



Zambia, Livingstone Healthcare and Community Outreach

GoEco, established in 2006, stands out in the realm of volunteer tourism with over 150 programs in more than 40 countries, each underscored by a commitment to sustainability and responsible travel. Annually, it sends over 2,000 volunteers, averaging four-week stays, to various global destinations. The organization’s sustainable approach has garnered significant impact in fields such as education, medical, and wildlife conservation, earning recognition on major news platforms and through various awards. GoEco elevates gap years by integrating voluntourism, blending the excitement of travel with the fulfillment of contributing meaningfully to global communities.

Costa Rica – Health and Medical Care in San Jose: This program offers international volunteers a chance to engage in medical work, with placements in healthcare and medical care. Suitable for students and professionals, the program includes patient care and clinical work, with the option to learn Spanish. Volunteers stay with host families, work 3-4 hours daily, and explore the vibrant culture of San Jose, making it an enriching experience for those in the medical field.

Peru – Cuzco Health and Medical Care: This Program in Peru offers students and professionals in medical fields hands-on experience in patient care and clinic work. Hosted in Cuzco, it includes placements for pre-med, nursing, health science students, and licensed medical professionals, with accommodation in homestays for cultural immersion. The program, suitable for those 18 and older with relevant medical background, also allows for exploration of Peruvian landmarks on weekends.

Sri Lanka – Medical and Nursing Program: This comprehensive program, ideal for pre-med, medical, and nursing students, leverages Sri Lanka’s free healthcare system to offer exposure to various wards and special units in hospitals. Observe practices in private hospitals or rehabilitation centers, gaining valuable experience while living close to Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches. The program includes a homestay, weekend explorations, and activities like rooftop yoga and night fishing. With placements varying based on education and experience, participants can engage in patient care and clinical work, gaining international medical experience in a diverse environment.

Zambia – Livingstone Healthcare and Community Outreach: In this program, participants contribute to various projects, from clinic work to adult literacy clubs, impacting lives in impoverished communities. This immersive experience includes providing home-based care, healthcare education, and participating in diverse community activities, all while living near the stunning Victoria Falls and engaging in local adventure activities.

Projects Abroad


Project Abroad Medical Volunteers

Projects Abroad offers dynamic medical internships during gap years, ideal for those exploring a medical career. Participants work in professional environments like hospitals and clinics across various countries, gaining firsthand clinical experience. Tailored to individual experience levels, these programs are perfect for those aiming for medical school or already in medical studies. They cover a range of specialties, from general medicine to dentistry, providing a comprehensive understanding of global healthcare issues and hands-on experience in delivering basic health services. With Projects Abroad, participants can expect a program that not only boosts their medical career prospects but also contributes positively to global health.

Medical Internships in Ghana: This program offers participants the opportunity to learn directly from doctors in hospitals, gaining valuable insight into medical practices in a developing country. This hands-on experience includes shadowing doctors on rounds, conducting basic health checks, and raising health awareness. Ideal for those looking to explore medical careers, the internship provides practical experience in diagnosing and treating various diseases and conditions. Participants over 16 can join any time of the year, with the internship designed to enhance resumes and aid in medical school applications through real-world medical exposure.

Medicine Internship in Mexico: This program in Guadalajara, Mexico, you get a chance to gain medical work experience by shadowing doctors and nurses in hospitals. Primarily observational, it includes learning diagnosis and treatment methods, conducting basic health checks, and participating in outreach work in local communities. Ideal for those seeking practical medical experience, this program gives insights into healthcare practices in a developing country. Suitable for participants over 18, basic Spanish skills are required to maximize the learning experience.

Medical Internship in Nepal: Participants work alongside nurses and doctors, gaining invaluable medical experience in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The program, based in Kathmandu or Chitwan, includes practical outreach work like health checks and medication administration in local communities. Ideal for anyone over 16 interested in a medical career, this immersive experience offers a blend of observational learning and direct community impact amidst the Himalayas.

Medical Internship in Kenya: This program offers participants the opportunity to gain medical experience by working alongside doctors and nurses in hospitals. Participants learn about diagnosing and treating various diseases, engage in community outreaches performing health checks, and broaden their medical knowledge through workshops. This program is ideal for those over 16 interested in a medical career, providing valuable insights into healthcare in a developing country.

Medical Internship in Cambodia:  This program offers participants the opportunity to learn from doctors in Phnom Penh hospitals, gaining experience in diagnosing and treating various illnesses. Participants rotate through different departments, learn directly from medical staff, and apply basic medical skills during community outreach. Ideal for those over 18 and interested in medical careers, this internship provides practical experience and cultural immersion in the heart of Cambodia.

African Impact


African Impact offers medical programs for those eager to advance their medical skills through real-life experiences during their gap year. Participants join healthcare and medical volunteer programs across Africa, providing crucial support in under-resourced, rural clinics. These programs are ideal for individuals with backgrounds in nursing, pre-med, or public health, aiming to contribute to the quality of life in African communities. Interns work alongside medical professionals, gaining practical experience and raising health awareness. With a focus on community engagement, African Impact’s programs offer a blend of meaningful work and the chance to explore Africa’s natural beauty, making them a fulfilling choice for those looking to make a tangible impact during their gap year.

Cape Town Hospice Project: This program supports South Africa’s public healthcare system, addressing the challenges of underfunding and insufficient medical personnel. Participants aged 21 and over assist in basic healthcare and administrative tasks in NGOs, aiding in patient care and treatment initiation. The project offers respite care for children and adults with chronic illnesses and conducts home-based care in impoverished communities. Participants engage in health education, facilitating workshops on vital health topics. The program is set in the vibrant city of Cape Town, surrounded by natural beauty and cultural richness, offering a dynamic living experience and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact.

Medical Volunteering In Kenya: This medical program in Limuru, Kenya, provides essential support to the local healthcare system, assisting staff in clinics, hospitals, and healthcare centers. Participants engage in home-based care, offering medical outreach to rural communities with limited healthcare access. They also conduct health education and awareness workshops, sharing vital knowledge to improve community well-being. Located in the tranquil highlands, Limuru offers a serene environment near Nairobi, providing ample opportunities for cultural and wildlife exploration during downtime. This program is perfect for those in the medical field seeking experience or exploring a career in healthcare, offering a unique blend of professional development and cultural immersion.

Public Health Project In Zambia

This public health initiative in Zambia provides crucial care to rural communities with limited medical resources. Participants, ranging from pre-med students to healthcare professionals, engage in a variety of roles, including assisting in medical clinics, supporting community members with illnesses, and conducting health talks in schools and training centers. They also play a vital role in HIV education, promoting awareness and positive health practices. Based in the picturesque town of Livingstone, near the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, this program offers a blend of impactful health education and breathtaking African adventures, including safaris and unique cultural experiences. The project focuses on enhancing healthcare access and improving public health awareness in traditional rural villages.

Involvement Volunteers International IVI

Intern abroad opportunities

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) offers enriching medical gap year internships for those eager to blend travel with meaningful healthcare experiences. Catering to a range of participants, including nursing, pre-med, and public health students, these programs provide valuable support in under-resourced clinics in rural settings. Participants engage in a variety of tasks, including health checks, vital sign monitoring, and educational initiatives focused on nutrition and healthy living. Ideal for both recent graduates and experienced professionals, these programs offer a unique opportunity to apply skills in real-world settings, while learning about diverse healthcare challenges in developing countries. These internships offer a profound way to gain practical experience, deepen cultural understanding, and make a tangible difference in global health.

Rural Medical Internship – Leyte, Philippines: This program provides a unique opportunity for those interested in healthcare to engage in a meaningful experience. Participants assist in healthcare clinics, aiding nurses and doctors, and educating the local community on nutrition and healthy living. Participants with relevant experience can record patient vitals, observe local doctors, help administer inoculations, and assist with outpatient services. This project, situated in Tacloban, Leyte, requires participants to be proactive due to the clinics being overwhelmed with patients. Participants can gain insight into overseas healthcare and contribute to underfunded clinics while being immersed in the culture of the Philippines. This program is ideal for medical professionals, students, or anyone aspiring to work in healthcare.

Medical Hospital Internship – Ghana: This program offers individuals interested in healthcare a chance to assist in medical clinics, hospitals, and healthcare centers, and learn about the healthcare system in a developing country. In this program based in Accra, participants can shadow local medical professionals, interact with patients, and potentially undertake more hands-on roles depending on their experience. This experience is beneficial for anyone studying medicine or related fields, and looking to gain first-hand experience and insight into medical practices in resource-limited settings. The program is ideal for those wishing to contribute to healthcare delivery and learn from local practitioners in a culturally rich environment.

Hospital Internship – Nepal: This program provides a unique opportunity for medical professionals and students to gain experience in a real-life hospital setting. Participants can shadow local doctors, nurses, and medical professionals in government, private, or community hospitals. This program offers a chance for cultural exchange and learning about healthcare systems in Nepal. Depending on prior experience, participants may engage in various medical procedures. The program is ideal for those looking to broaden their medical knowledge and skills while gaining valuable insights into the challenges of healthcare in developing countries. This internship requires prior knowledge and experience in the medical field.

Hospital Internship – Sri Lanka: This internship provides a distinctive opportunity for pre-medical and medical students to gain insightful experience in a real hospital setting. Participants can shadow local doctors, nurses, and medical professionals at one of the oldest and largest hospitals in Kandy. This program allows for learning diverse treatment methods and engaging in beneficial cultural exchanges with local medical staff. It offers a chance to observe and learn from various healthcare practices and potentially assist in treatments, depending on experience. The internship is an excellent opportunity to enhance understanding of international healthcare systems and share knowledge.

Hospital Internship – Tanzania: This program offers a unique experience for individuals with a background in medicine, allowing them to contribute their knowledge and skills to a local hospital. Participants can shadow and assist local doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals, gaining practical experience in international medical care and treatments. They can also provide medical assistance to local community members with limited access to resources. The program includes monitoring and observing patients, providing health outreach advice, and learning from varied medical practices. Located in the scenic region of Monduli, near Arusha, participants can explore the rich local culture and natural beauty of Tanzania while engaging in this rewarding experience.

Volunteering Solutions


Volunteering Solutions offers enriching gap year programs including medical internships abroad for pre-med, medical, nursing, physiotherapy, and para-medical students. Interns gain valuable hands-on experience while observing the healthcare systems in developing countries. Responsibilities include shadowing medical professionals in various departments such as Emergency, IPD Wards, Laboratory, Blood Bank, Radiology/Imaging, OT, Dialysis Unit, Critical Care, and more. Interns can choose their duration, ranging from 2 weeks to 6 months, and work in rural, urban, or semi-urban settings. Additionally, group interns can organize special healthcare or dental camps to serve more people. This opportunity not only enhances medical knowledge and skills but also offers a chance to immerse in the local culture and contribute meaningfully to global healthcare needs.

Medical and Nursing Internship in Delhi, India: Participants can choose to work in various hospital departments and learn valuable skills by shadowing medical professionals. This program is ideal for those seeking insights into new medical techniques and wishing to distinguish themselves in their medical or nursing careers. Interns work in South Delhi hospitals, assisting and observing in various departments, and gaining skills and knowledge alongside experienced medical staff. The program requires interns to be over 18, with a clean criminal background, CV, and relevant documents. Intern roles are mostly observational, following daily rounds and consultations, offering a unique perspective on healthcare in a different cultural setting. Interns follow a structured weekly schedule, with orientation, work at the hospital, and free weekends for exploration.

Medical Internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand: This program offers medical students practical exposure under the guidance of Thai doctors. Interns can work in various hospital departments, interacting with global medical professionals and students. The program, primarily observational, allows interns to shadow doctors and nurses, gaining insights into Thailand’s renowned medical system. Participants can explore Chiang Mai and its cultural landmarks during their free time. Interns must be 18 or older, open-minded, and flexible, providing necessary documentation including a CV and letter of recommendation. The program caters to current medical students or recent graduates, emphasizing learning through observation and participation in hospital rounds across multiple departments.

Nursing Internship in Galle, Sri Lanka: This program offers nursing students and recent graduates the chance to gain practical experience in a diverse healthcare setting. This program allows participants to work in various wards and units of a public hospital, learning from local medical professionals. It’s a unique opportunity to understand nursing in a developing country with free healthcare for all citizens. Interns rotate through departments like Maternity Care, Emergency Treatment Unit, Surgical Ward, Physiotherapy, and more, gaining insight into different medical practices, including traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The internship is mainly observational, with potential hands-on experience based on staff discretion. Comprehensive orientation and local transport are provided, ensuring a supportive and educational environment. This program is perfect for those eager to broaden their nursing skills in a culturally rich setting.

Global Vision International (GVI)

healthcare volunteering abroad

Global Vision International (GVI) offers gap year programs including public health internships, providing an immersive experience in the medical field in various global locations. These programs are ideal for those looking to expand their medical knowledge and skills through hands-on learning and cultural exchange. Interns have the opportunity to work alongside medical professionals in diverse healthcare settings, contributing to meaningful projects while gaining significant practical exposure. They also allow for personal growth and exploration of new destinations, enhancing participants’ understanding of global healthcare challenges and practices. Suitable for medical students and recent graduates, these internships are a stepping stone toward a career in medicine, offering a blend of professional development and global exploration.

Global Health Internship in Fiji: Embark on a Global Health Internship in Dawasamu, Fiji, where you’ll contribute to public health workshops, gaining hands-on experience in a real-world setting. Enhance your career development in the field of public health by working closely with local health workers. This program is a unique opportunity to engage with Dawasamu’s community and educate them on hygiene and disease prevention. Utilize your weekends to explore Fiji’s captivating landscapes and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Ideal for individuals seeking practical experience and looking to make a positive impact on global health.

Global Health Internship in Thailand: This Global Health Internship in Phang Nga, Thailand, focuses on public health initiatives like hygiene, nutrition, and exercise education. Gain hands-on experience in community development, immerse yourself in Thai culture, and contribute to local projects. Develop professional skills, receive mentorship, and make a lasting impact. Explore Thailand’s beautiful landscapes during your free time. Ideal for students and enthusiasts in public health, nursing, and related fields.

Global Health Internship in Nepal: Participate in a Global Health Internship in Pokhara, Nepal, focusing on preventive healthcare education. Contribute by educating communities about hygiene, nutrition, and wellness. Develop professional skills, engage in community projects, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Explore breathtaking landscapes, including Phewa Lake and the Annapurna range, during your free time. This program is ideal for students and enthusiasts in public health, nursing, and related fields seeking practical experience in a culturally rich environment.

Global Health Internship in South Africa: Participate in a Global Health Internship in South Africa, lasting 4 to 12 weeks, to enhance your understanding and skills in public health. This program, located near Cape Town, involves working with an international team on health and well-being initiatives in local communities. Focus on facilitating sports lessons at a primary school, promoting regular physical activity among children, and discussing women’s health topics with a girls empowerment group. You’ll also be involved in facilitating hygiene habits and possibly engaging with children on nutrition education. Key tasks include identifying community health needs and designing adult workshops on critical health topics like first aid, hygiene, mental health, and substance abuse. This internship is ideal for students or individuals interested in public health, nursing, social work, or related fields, offering a blend of practical experience and cultural immersion in the stunning South African landscape.

Global Health Research Fellowship in Thailand:  This fellowship in Thailand offers a 4 to 24-week opportunity to conduct impactful health-related research in Phang Nga. You will work on projects addressing community health challenges, learning to conduct and present research in areas such as basic health, hygiene, and nutrition. This fellowship involves collaborating with local partners and academic experts and focuses on ethical data collection and analysis. Situated in Ban Nam Kem, you’ll immerse yourself in Thai culture, contributing to UN SDGs including Good Health and Well-being. The program is ideal for those studying public health, nursing, or related fields, seeking hands-on experience in community health and research. Activities include health training, community work, data collection, and developing research projects. You’ll gain skills in community empowerment, data analysis, leadership, and cross-cultural communication, working with partners like the New Light Foundation and local schools.

Medical Internships will put you on the right track!


Pursuing internships in the medical field during a gap year is a profoundly enriching journey, offering a myriad of benefits that extend beyond academic and professional development. It’s a time for self-discovery, cultural immersion, practical experience, stress prevention, and professional networking. Programs offered by reputable providers present a diverse array of opportunities, each tailored to different aspects of medical and healthcare training. These experiences not only shape aspiring healthcare professionals but also contribute significantly to global health and well-being. As you embark on this transformative phase, remember that the skills, insights, and relationships fostered during this period are invaluable, laying a robust foundation for a compassionate, competent, and culturally sensitive medical career. A gap year in the medical field is more than a pause in your career journey; it’s a leap forward toward becoming a well-rounded healthcare professional capable of making a substantial impact in the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.