Health Volunteer Abroad: Paramedic, Public Health, Midwife, Pharmacist
28 Nov 2018 · 148,000 Total reads
By Sarah Vandenberg
Director of Partnerships
In addition to sharing several medical, dental, and nursing volunteer abroad opportunities, this article will also discuss global health volunteer and internship opportunities for physical therapists, paramedics, public health specialists, pharmacists, and midwives (along with students in those fields). Read on to learn how you can apply your medical training and skills to help people in developing countries who lack access to high-quality healthcare.
Volunteer Abroad as a Health Student or Professional
Are you seeking a volunteer opportunity like no other? If you’re a medical professional or a student aspiring to become one, consider putting your compassion and skills to work for people with limited access to quality healthcare.
In addition to general medical, dental, and nursing volunteer projects overseas, this article also discusses medical volunteer abroad opportunities for paramedics (EMTs), midwives, pharmacists, and public health professionals. If you’re a pre-medical, pre-dental, or nursing student, we also recommend checking out these healthcare volunteer abroad opportunities.
Volunteering in healthcare or medicine is no exception. It provides opportunities to expand your skills as well as the ability to serve others who might not have reliable medical care.
From observation, to direct care, to education, there’s no shortage of healthcare volunteer programs worldwide. And experience is not always a requirement: many volunteers are students, or considering entering school for a health or medical-related degree.
For example, volunteering abroad with Love Volunteers put Candice, a college student, in situations ranging from pediatrics (observing children receive antibiotic), to surgery (observing bone-setting to amputations) to obstetrics (witnessing live births and C-section deliveries). Her final week as a Love Volunteer in a Honduran hospital and her immersion in labor and delivery motivated her to choose nursing in obstetrics as a career path.
All the doctors and nurses I observed were all so open to teaching me about what I was seeing,” Candice said as a testimonial for Love Volunteers. “They often would tell me to come closer and proceeded to explain exactly what was going on. The people there were so approachable and patient, allowing me to gain so much more knowledge from this experience.
Candice’s experience is typical of volunteers in the medical field, whether one is a professional or a student. The need for assistance is urgent and a volunteer with willing hands lightens the load for overworked doctors and nurses.
If you’re interested in healthcare overseas, many volunteer programs need hands-on help in the following areas:
Conducting patient interviews and building patient histories
Taking vital signs
Observing procedures conducted by local medical staff, including ENT examination, prenatal care, vaccinations, and more
Presenting patient information to medical staff for differential diagnosis and proposed treatment
Volunteering in healthcare can benefit both the host community and the volunteer. Many medical professionals consider volunteering abroad as the perfect way to do what they love in a new environment.
Doctors, nurses, and other specialists look to volunteering for the personal interaction and for the challenge of helping underserved people. Graduate medical students and undergraduate pre-medical students look to volunteering for hands-on experience and guidance.
Regardless of your educational or professional status, medical and healthcare volunteers (including paramedics and other trained first responders!) are desperately needed in many countries where medical expertise is difficult to obtain. If you don’t have any medical training or qualifications, then we highly recommend Agape Volunteers’s HIV prevention project in Kenya. As part of this project, you will have the opportunity to earn your HIV Training and Counseling certification, a valuable qualification to anyone interested in pursuing a medical career.
Read on to find just a few of the many health and medical volunteer opportunities available worldwide!
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Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs for Doctors, Nurses, Pre Med Students
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) works with local organizations and NGOs in more than 40 countries worldwide, offering over 200 programs that deliver sustainable value for communities and for the environment. Since its start in 2007, IVHQ has hosted more than 80,000 participants, and sends more than 10,000 volunteers abroad annually. IVHQ is affordable with program fees starting at $180, and in-country stays last from one week to six months. An innovative organization, IVHQ preps volunteers with email and phone correspondence, and has developed an exclusive, online training module for registrants. IVHQ partners provide orientation and training sessions, and provide 24/7 support to volunteers in-country.
IVHQ Healthcare volunteers in Argentina work at small clinics in underserved communities, such as Cordoba, shadowing local doctors and socializing with patients. Pre-med and medical students as well as healthcare professionals may volunteer to observe doctors as they carry out their day-to-day work. Depending upon the supervising physician, you may be allowed to weigh and measure babies, take blood pressure, vaccinate, tend to small wounds, and other tasks. Knowledge of Spanish and a two-week minimum commitment is required to take part in this project. Program fees begin at $490 for two weeks.
As an IVHQ Medical Elective volunteer in Nepal, you’ll be placed at a hospital in Kathmandu, Chitwan, or Pokhara, where you’ll have the opportunity to shadow qualified physicians and nurses. You’ll assist with daily healthcare and medical activities, which may include: observing in the operating room, watching procedures in the surgery ward, helping in the physical therapy department, examining burn wounds, changing patients’ dressings, participating in emergency-room rounds, learning about family planning and immunizations, and helping mothers with their newborns. This project is open to students and professionals who have completed at least two years of medical or nursing school. Program fees start at $360 for two weeks, with an additional $50 fee per week for training and resources.
You can provide support to underfunded and under-resourced clinics, medical centers, and hospitals in Uganda as an IVHQ Medical volunteer. Open to students and professionals with a minimum of two years of medical or nursing school, this project provides valuable international healthcare experience. You’ll work alongside local professionals, assisting with health services including maternity, gynecology, pediatrics, cancer screening, geriatrics, general medicine, immunizations, HIV/AIDS, pharmacy, and more. Program fees start at $370.
Volunteer with IVHQ’s Medical Program in Cusco, providing much-needed assistance at clinics and hospitals. Your tasks may include shadowing the local physicians and nurses, helping them to record patients’ vital signs and health histories, making beds, socializing with patients, and sterilizing equipment. If you’re a third- or fourth-year medical student or a qualified medical professional, you may be allowed to help doctors take physicals and histories, give vaccinations, draw blood samples, clean wounds, give injections and sutures, and administer basic physiotherapy. A basic level of Spanish is recommended, and a higher level is preferred. Program fees start at $295.
Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year offers affordable placements for travelers who would like to volunteer in a variety of areas such as childcare, teaching, wildlife conservation, community projects, medicine, and mental health. Plan My Gap Year prides itself on transparency and accountability, with all programs personally inspected and vetted by the team to ensure project safety and to be certain that you will be matched with an initiative that complements your skills and interests. And with recognition such as the Shell LiveWire Grand Idea Award, Thailand Green Excellence Award, and Special Recognition from the United Nations in Sri Lanka, Plan My Gap Year is a wonderful organization to check out if you want to make sure you’re helping with sustainable, impactful projects.
Expand your interest in health care with a trip abroad to Ghana. The Medical Volunteer project in Kumasi by Plan My Gap Year offers opportunities to work at the Manhyia government hospital, depending upon your level of experience. Participate as an observer, or even hands-on, and tailor your project to topics in dentistry, medical, midwifery, and nursing for medical students seeking an overseas elective. You’ll learn how the underpaid and understaffed hospital adjusts to the challenges of health care in a developing nation. Program fees start at $465 for two weeks, and you are invited to combine your medical volunteer visit with a teaching project for a larger impact.
Gain valuable insight into the Tanzanian healthcare system when you volunteer with Plan My Gap Year at the Arusha government hospital. Tanzania struggles with the immense cost of providing HIV/AIDS treatment, and as a result, its healthcare services suffer. This volunteer program is open to those with all medical backgrounds, and is guided by the hospital’s support staff and physicians. Choose from the following areas: Dental, Diabetes Clinic, General Medical Consultation, Laboratory, HIV Awareness and Testing, Midwifery and Labour Ward, Newborn Care and Immunizations, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Optical, Pediatrics, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Prenatal Care and Antenatal Care, and Radiology Surgery. The fee is $540 for two weeks, and you are invited to stay longer.
Traveling to Bali as a medical volunteer can be a spiritual experience, as you learn about traditional customs and beliefs about holistic healing, and its role in western medicine. Participate in a Plan My Gap Year seminar that explains the importance of traditional culture in the care of the Balinese patient and how professionals in the medical field adhere to local beliefs in their treatment plans. Volunteer at the government-operated hospital of Rumah Sakit Umum Tabanan, a busy facility that admits 500 patients on a daily basis. Learn about General Surgery, Intensive-Care, Emergency, Maternity and Midwifery, Neonatal, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Antenatal, Prenatal, Ultrasound, General Medicine, Outpatient and Public Health. Program fees begin at $435 for two weeks.
Travel to the exotic locale of Sri Lanka and volunteer for a medical experience alongside local physicians and support staff in the areas of Physiotherapy, Dental Surgery, Radiology (x-ray machine and computerized radiology), Laboratory, and Phlebotomy. You will take on the role of an observer in this experience abroad, and will be partnered with an English-speaking member of the staff; however, on rare occasions you may be asked to take a patient’s blood pressure or blood sugar readings, under supervision. You’ll see a variety of cases and medical treatment under challenging conditions at this two-week program. All participants, regardless of placement, will have the opportunity to participate in seminar about Ayurveda Medicine, one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Fees begin at $420 for a two-week duration.
Volunteer with Plan My Gap Year as a medical volunteer in India, working with local people from the slums and rural areas of New Delhi. Alongside other volunteers, you’ll support patients seeking health care in the free medical camps, in local clinics and in local hospitals. This unique and caring program is open to people with an interest in health care, as well as medical students and professionals. The opportunity provides experience in the following areas: Accident and Emergency, Anesthetics, Dentistry, General Surgery, Maternity and Midwifery, Nursing, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Occupational Therapy, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Pathology, Physiotherapy, and Ultrasound. As a volunteer caregiver, you’ll perform basic duties such as checking a patient’s vital signs and treating minor wounds under the supervision of the local doctors. If you wish, you can shadow physicians at Royal Hospital and Ghal Hospital. Fees for this two-week program start at $330.
Maximo Nivel was founded in Peru in 2003, and later established offices in Costa Rica and Guatemala in 2006 and 2009, respectively. The organization has hosted over 25,000 participants to date. Currently, Maximo Nivel offers TEFL/TESOL certification, international volunteering, internships, and native Spanish and native English programs in all three countries.
All of the organization’s programs are internationally accredited by the Ministries of Education in Peru and Guatemala. Maximo Nivel also works with Brookhaven College in the United States, Universidad Juan Pablo II in Costa Rica, and Universidad Rural in Guatemala.
Maximo Nivel offers volunteer opportunities in childcare, conservation, teaching, construction, medical care, and non-medical healthcare. Internship opportunities also are available in education, special education, micro business, hospitality and tourism, and medical work.
This program is geared toward first and second year medical school students, pre-med students, nursing students, and other health science students. Programs are available in specialized living facilities, where volunteers assist with caring for those who are mentally or physically disabled, elderly, or afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Volunteers may help with all aspects of patient care, including medicine distribution, feeding, bathing, workshops, and companionship. Click here to learn more.
For licensed professionals and third and fourth year medical students, Maximo Nivel offers the opportunity to work in clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Volunteers may shadow doctors and nurses, assist with checkups and triage, organize medical campaigns, take vitals, organize records, sterilize equipment, and more. Placement and types of volunteer work depend on the volunteer’s background, Spanish language ability, and the needs of the medical staff. Click here to learn more about this program. Click here to learn more.
If you want to build your career through an internship abroad, check out Maximo Nivel’s medical internship in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. For one month or longer, you’ll learn about medical practices in a developing country while working alongside a local medical professional in a hospital, clinic, assisted living facility, or in a private practice.
You’ll gain practical, hands-on experience through patient consultation, performing check-ups, helping with elderly care, promoting health education, and much more, depending on your background, studies, and experience. You must have intermediate Spanish language background to sign up, and you must be enrolled in a pre-med, medical, or nursing program, or be a licensed medical professional. Click here to learn more: http://maximonivel.com/internships/medical
What Volunteers Say
Trip to Guatemala was epic. We volunteered in clinics and went to schools and taught them health and dental hygiene. Maximo literally gave us everything we needed. Not only did we teach we also learned. We returned feeling good about ourselves and having a drive to do well in school and save the world. If you want to do good to the world use Maximo Nivel and go to Guatemala.
Established in 2009, Love Volunteers was founded to help people in needy communities worldwide. Love Volunteers has offered more than 150 programs in 35 developing countries throughout Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. A fast-growing organization, Love Volunteers has placed more than 4,000 volunteers and interns on impactful programs abroad just in the past year. A few popular destinations include:
Volunteer programs include childcare, community development, construction and outdoors, environmental conservation, healthcare and medical, disabilities, sport, arts and music, teaching and education, wildlife and animals, and women’s empowerment.
Volunteers on this program will assist with a local hospital in La Ceiba, Honduras, by helping dentists directly, preparing equipment, and visiting schools to educate children in oral hygiene. Applicants must be students or professionals in this field, and must have high-beginner level of Spanish language ability. This program starts from one week at $190, and volunteers can stay up to 24 weeks. Click here to learn more about this program.
Based in Quito, Ecuador, volunteers will shadow local doctors at a hospital or clinic, and depending on their background and abilities, may take on additional responsibilities to assist medical staff with their daily routines. This internship is suited for pre-med and medical students as well as medical professionals who would like to gain additional experience abroad. Experience in medical field and a high level of Spanish language is essential to this program, which lasts one week or longer. Click here to learn more about this program.
Based in Kenya, volunteers on this program assist with visiting slums to deliver food and medicine, and to provide basic medical care. Participants also help with raising awareness about the disease and educating those affected about medical care options. There is an optional two-week introductory course for this program, where volunteers may learn to take blood samples, test blood, and work directly with patients. Placements start from one week at $235. Click here to learn more about this program.
Love Volunteers also offers an excellent program for pharmacists to volunteer in Mombasa and Diani Beach, Kenya. In Mombasa, you’ll work either at the Shanzu Village Prison Hospital, which provides care for the prison and for the local community, or at the Central City Hospital, the largest hospital in the coastal area. In Diani Beach, you can work in a smaller clinic or in a dispensary – a good program both for students and for medical professionals. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.
What Volunteers Say
It was one of the best decisions in my life to go to Ghana for Volunteering. I will never forget this experience. I’ve received so much love from all the people there. I feel in the love with the kids there, i think anyone will do! I can totally recommend you going there. This is something you will carry in your heart a lifetime.
Beside all the medical preparation beforehand I can recommend you to go there with an open mind and heart and it will be the best time in your Life. Everyone is so helpful and caring that you will feel like you are visiting family! 🙂
Founded in 1992, Project Abroad is one of the largest volunteer travel organizations in the world. Since its inception, Projects Abroad has placed more than 120,000 volunteers throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America on volunteer and internship programs. Projects Abroad offers placements in care programs (working in care centers, schools, and special needs clinics), teaching, conservation, archaeology, construction, agriculture, and more. You can gain valuable international experience on an internship in Public Health, Midwifery, or Pharmacy.
Join a team that brings important basic healthcare services to rural communities that lack access to medical care. As a medical intern, you’ll become part of ongoing efforts to improve community health by doing medical checks and educational campaigns. You’ll play an active role in helping others, and you’ll demonstrate your commitment to healthcare at the same time.
Public Health Internships to consider:
Help distribute medication and treatment to rural communities in Africa, in countries like Ghana or Madagascar
Shadow midwives in busy hospitals and health clinics on an International Midwifery Internship and learn about prenatal care and observe as doctors and nurses deliver babies. Maternity wards in another country will be very different from those in your home country, so you’ll get to broaden your global perspective on healthcare. Midwifery internships allow you to:
Help nurses care for newly born babies and their mothers in Africa, in Ghana or Tanzania
Experience the amazing country of Peru in South America as you provide prenatal care
You can boost your resume for college or work applications on an international Pharmacy internship. Learn from professional pharmacists, and gain insight into the running of pharmacies in another country. Choose to:
Work alongside experienced pharmacists at a teaching hospital and during outreaches in Ghana
Travel to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka to develop your resume with practical experience
What Volunteers Say: Amanda, Public Health in Ghana
“Each and every day we provided care, I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of Ghanaians. To see the animated smile on the face of a child after receiving treatment, or to hear the gracious “Medaase”, meaning thank-you from an elderly woman you have just spent several minutes with providing health teaching, is invaluable and so extremely satisfying to know that your time and efforts were meaningful.”
Agape Volunteers is a reputable and affordable organization offering volunteering, tourism, and development trips in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Maasai-land. A registered UK charity, Agape Volunteers’ program costs include registration and administration fees, tours and excursions, housing and feed, and even travel insurance, making Agape Volunteers the most affordable option for those who want to volunteer in Africa.
Volunteer at an underserved hospital in Ghana with Agape Volunteers and give your medical career a boost. If you have at least one year of pre-med school, or healthcare experience, you can hone your skills abroad. Gain experience from medical professionals in the field, and depending upon your level of expertise, you may be able to prescribe and distribute medicines, dress wounds, and even assist with maternal care. Accommodations are in dorm-style rooms at Agape’s volunteer house by the beach in Accra. Fees start at £510 for one week.
Located in Arusha, Tanzania, this medical program will increase your skills in healthcare, while allowing you to volunteer on a worthwhile project. First, you’ll shadow a medical professional, learning about common ailments and diseases local to the region. Then, depending upon your level of experience and interest, you’ll perform basic medical procedures, including dressing wounds and distributing medicines. You’ll also participate with medical outreach projects. Lodging is at a guesthouse in the center of Arusha. Fees start at £695 for one week.
Enhance your medical studies and career with a healthcare placement in Kenya. If you’re a pre-med student or a qualified healthcare professional, join Agape Volunteers in Kenyan clinics and hospitals to help improve the overall health of the community and save lives. This is a great opportunity to use and develop your medical training. Depending upon your experience level, you’ll perform basic procedures under supervision, including distributing medicines, dressing wounds, and assisting with maternal care. Fees start at £590 for one week.
If you’re looking for a healthcare volunteer opportunity or internship overseas, check out Abroadly, a new booking platform by Volunteer Forever that helps you streamline the process of finding and applying for volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs offered by vetted and reputable organizations worldwide.
Abroadly helps you find the right program for your background, skills, and interests, letting you easily research and compare more than 150 projects in the areas of health and medicine, child and youth development, construction and community development, education, human rights, sports and recreation, and wildlife and environmental conservation. Your Abroadly application fee is guaranteed 100% refundable if you’re not accepted into the program of your choice.
When you apply for a program through Abroadly, you will have free access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform, and you’ll be able to enter for the chance to win a $500 scholarship, which can be used for any part of your travel! Start the search for your perfect trip, with programs starting from only $171 for one week.
If you’re ready for a life-changing experience abroad, join Khaya Volunteer Projects on a medical program in Tanzania, helping the people of Zanzibar access healthcare. The cost of medical treatment is too expensive for many people here, and as a result, their health is threatened. If you have medical experience, or if you are a healthcare student, take a look at this placement that puts you with doctors and nurses at two hospitals, providing care and support to patients in need.
Zanzibar is located off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa, and is a beautiful locale known for its beaches. Go snorkeling in the clear waters of Mnemba Atoll, and stroll the historic and charming streets of Stone Town, the iconic capital of Zanzibar. Filled with craft shops, art galleries, cafes, and more, Stone Town is a cultural experience promising sensory overload. Fees for this placement start at $410, and start dates are flexible. Read more and register here!
Volunteering Solutions offers a medical care project in Ghana that’s ideal for pre-med, medical, and nursing students looking for international experience in various hospital departments, including general practice, physical therapy, maternity, and surgical wards. You’ll observe diagnoses and treatment of tropical and unique illnesses, and perform general tasks like setting up IV lines for patients, taking blood, and making patients comfortable. Medical professionals can apply for a temporary work certificate. Spend weekends exploring the city of Koforidua, including the Aburi Botanical Gardens, the Boti Falls, and Umbrella Rock, both natural wonders and popular destinations. Fees start at $579 and you’re invited to stay two weeks or longer. Learn more here!
Gain hands-on experience in the healthcare field as a paramedic or a midwife when you join INLEXCA on a volunteer trip providing healthcare to the residents of San Ramon. The residents of Costa Rica receive free healthcare, however, medical resources and healthcare personnel are limited. Depending upon your Spanish-speaking skills and level of experience, you can assist doctors and nurses in rural clinics and hospitals, helping to treat patients with a variety of needs.
Spend your time off sightseeing the natural wonders of San Ramon – a favorite location for hikers because of its forest trails and cloud canopy tours. The program fee starts at $1,449 with stays from four to eight weeks. Read more and register here!
Put your healthcare experience or education to great use when you join Camp Thailand in Buriram for its healthcare volunteer program for students, nurses, doctors, and other medical workers. Previous volunteers have assisted with general health care tasks, such as basic health screening, checking weight and height, and blood sugar level testing. If you have medical training, you may be asked to help with dispensing medicines, suturing wounds, and dressing injuries. Another aspect of this volunteer program is visits to patients’ homes and to nursery school. While in Thailand, take time to visit sacred temples, castles, and monuments, and stop by the night bazaar – a favorite with tourists. Program fees are $1,199 for three weeks. Read more and register here!
Public health students can gain experience in their field of study through this community health program in rural Cambodia. Volunteers will put their skills to use as they teach local school children about hygiene and overall body and public health. Volunteers will be involved in hands-on tasks, as well, such as teaching the children how to effectively wash their hands to avoid spreading germs and how to effectively brush their teeth. Learn more here.
Gain real medical experience as you learn about the Peruvian healthcare system and assist with patient care. You can join as a healthcare volunteer (suitable for health, nursing, and pre-med students), and help out with patient companionship, distributing medications, and activities for the elderly and people with disabilities. Or, you can be placed in the medical program, which is for licensed medical professionals and third- to fourth-year med students; the medical placement is more hands-on, and you’ll do everything from take vital signs to update patient records.
During free time, explore the city of Cusco, a place that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Sound like an amazing trip? Project fees start from $790 for one week. Find out more here!
Join GoEco in the city of Gweru. There, you’ll provide much-needed support at health clinics that Gweru’s population depends on for services. Clinics are understaffed and lack adequate resources, so having volunteers to assist nurses, midwives, and doctors is crucial. Common tasks include helping raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, updating patient records, packaging medicine, weighing babies, and cleaning facilities.
Antelope Park is located in Gweru, and you can go on a horseback safari, walk with elephants, watch lions, and more when you’re not volunteering. If this sounds like a great healthcare volunteer program, click here to learn more and apply. Fees begin at $1,520 for two weeks.
Are you a medical student looking to gain international and do some good? Then this is the program for you. As an intern, you’ll shadow a local medical professional and learn from how they treat patients. You can choose to work in three or four different departments. Choices range from radiology to pharmacy to emergency.
When you’re off work, have fun in Delhi by visiting sites like The Red Fort. Ready to make the trip to India? Know project fees start at $990 for two weeks. Learn more here!
What Volunteers Say
Hi, my name is Jessica and I am presently in my second year of med school in Canada. Since I love travelling and discovering new environments and cultures, I was totally excited when I heard about GoEco’s Medical Placement in Ho Chi Minh project in Vietnam. I knew this would combine perfectly my desire to explore the world and my passion for healthcare. I chose Vietnam because Asia is a continent that really fascinates me and is also very different from where I come from. I really wanted to go out of my comfort zone and I have to say my whole experience with the GoEco team was an amazing journey…
The Intern Group is award-winning company with the mission to develop an innovative and culturally-sensitive new generation ready to address the issues that affect the world today and tomorrow. Founded in 2011, it offers professional development internships in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The Intern Group places more than 2,000 students and other individuals on customized internships with renowned global NGOs and companies. It’s been featured in Forbes, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and CNN. Included in all internships are developmental workshops, career training, social and cultural events, quality housing, and in-country support. It also offers discounts to alumni travelers, as well as students receiving financial aid.
Expand your horizons with a pharmaceutical or biotechnology science internship in Barcelona with the Intern Group. There are a large number of pharmaceutical laboratories and companies based in Barcelona, and your customized internship can have you accelerating on your career track in six weeks! Barcelona is the cultural and industrial hub of Spain and while here, you’ll gain vital professional experience and industry exposure on a global level. This is a beautiful city with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites – it’s also home to the Sagrada Familia, a magnificent Roman Catholic Church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Enjoy La Pedrera, a multi-sensory, multimedia event and take a day trip to the Dali Museum in medieval Girona. Fees for this placement begin at $4,648 for six weeks, with stays available up to six months. Click here to start your application!
Immerse yourself in a medical internship in London that allows you to focus on a specific illness with the goal of conducting research to improve treatment. The Intern Group partners with NGOs and hospitals that provide unique opportunities for students and professionals interested in working alongside experts to learn about cancer, cystic fibrosis, drug addiction, and sight loss. London is a hub of global business and finance, a magnet for the creative sector, and the home of many NGOs. Visit world-famous sites and enjoy street festivals like the Notting Hill Carnival, and a visit to Buckingham Palace. Tour St. Paul’s Cathedral while in the city, and enjoy a play at West End. The internship also includes an Afternoon Tea service, a river cruise, and visit to the London Eye. You’re invited to stay six weeks or longer and program fees begin at $4,841. Read more and apply today!
If you have a basic understanding of Spanish, as well as two years studying medicine at college or clinical experience, join the Intern Group on a public health internship in Medellin, Colombia, and learn about the nature of global healthcare. Colombia is a country with great natural resources and the second-largest population in South America. On this internship, you’ll be able to interact with patients and learn more about medical treatments in accident and emergency, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, clinical medicine, or psychiatry. While in-country, enjoy cultural events such as a walking tour of the city, and take a day trip to el Peñon de Guatape, a striking, 10-million-year-old rock formation. Schedule time to visit cinemas, museums, restaurants, and more. Stay for two weeks or longer, with fees starting at $2,490. Learn more and apply here!
When you choose a public health internship in Dublin, you’ll develop the necessary competitive edge when it comes to seeking a healthcare job or applying to medical school. The Intern Group works with clinical trial administrators and charitable hospital foundations, which gives you the possibility of a customized experience in nursing, medical research, public health advocacy, or another healthcare-related sector. You’ll gain invaluable work experience in one of the financial capitals of the world, while making important global connections and boosting your resume on this internship. Called “the Silicon Valley of Europe,” Dublin is home to many technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. Your internship includes a Guinness Storehouse tour, the EPIC Ireland exhibit, an Irish dance party, a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, and a literary night. Placement fees start at $4,869 for six weeks, and you’re invited to stay up to six months. Learn more and sign up here!
Looking for a unique health volunteer program abroad? Look no further than Fronteering, an organization known for their commitment to empowering indigenous communities and disadvantaged peoples around the world. Fronteering not only provides real, raw experiences for health volunteers, they’re also quite affordable and fully transparent about their fees. Go off the beaten path without breaking the bank.
Journey to the beautiful island of Madagascar with Fronteering, where you’ll live in an authentic Malagasy Village. In these rural villages, people often wait too long to see a medical professional, as it can very difficult to travel to a health clinic. By living right in the community, you’ll be able to help provide locals with quality healthcare services near their home. Duties include treating minor injuries, delivering pre- and post-natal service to mothers, and supporting daily clinic operations.
During free time, take time to soak up the surrounding natural beauty. Depending on where you’re placed, you may be close a gorgeous beach or rainforest. Sound like the healthcare program for you? Fees are $1,795 for two weeks. Get more details and apply here!
Head to Accra with Fronteering, where you’ll give patients the quality care they deserve. The local hospitals where you’ll serve are understaffed and lack necessary resources. Your help goes a long way in filling that gap and ensuring better patient outcomes and experiences. Depending on your healthcare education and experience, your role may be mostly observational or involve a lot of hands-on tasks. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about Ghana’s healthcare system. Note this program is intended for those with some experience in the medical field, whether that be work experience as a midwife or paramedic or education in public health or pharmaceuticals.
When you’re not busy volunteering at the hospital, explore Accra, a city that includes notable cultural sites like the Independence Arch and Osu Castle. Interested in medical volunteering with Fronteering in Ghana? Program fees start at $1,495 for four weeks, with stays up to eight weeks available. Get more details and apply here!
Since 1984, Raleigh International has provided expeditions for young people and adults to volunteer in Nepal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Tanzania. 400,000 volunteers have traveled with Raleigh International so far, with another 800 embarking on trips this year. With a commitment to program quality and volunteer support, Raleigh International helped design and currently holds the BS8848 Safety Standard for organizing and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside of the UK. If you are interested in global health, Raleigh International has excellent programs where you can help to provide access to clean water, improve sanitation, and promote good hygiene practices among vulnerable communities.
If Africa is on your must-visit list, consider Raleigh International’s Tanzania expedition, where you will volunteer for five weeks or longer with a remote community. Through this program, you will help with initiatives to improve access to clean water, teach good hygiene practices to build healthy and strong families and communities, and even engage in environmental conservation and sustainability programs. As well, you will have the opportunity to go trekking in the Southern Highlands and viewing wild animals on a visit to Ruaha National Park. Learn more here!
If you would like to visit Asia, check out Raleigh International’s expedition to Nepal, where you’ll travel to a rural village in Gorkha and volunteer to improve access to safe water and sanitation. In this area, 85% of homes were affected by the 2015 earthquake – as a volunteer, you will make a difference by digging trenches, laying pipes, and participating in awareness-raising events to improve sanitation and hygiene. Aside from volunteering, you’ll have the opportunity to go hiking in the foothills of the Ganesh Himal mountains. Learn more and register here!
A Broader View Volunteers is an international nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania. This organization inspires volunteers to work alongside local counterparts on programs including day care, community development, teaching, medical care, and more. Projects in A Broader View’s healthcare and medical focus include working in an elderly care centre, medical and dental healthcare, paramedical/rescue, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and rehabilitation. Placements are available in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In this program, volunteers may assist local staff in the La Mesa community with patient rehabilitation, including physical, occupational, speech therapy, and special needs care for children and adults. Those volunteers who have paramedical experience may assist with emergency care and patient transport as well. This project lasts one to eight weeks, and volunteers must have basic Spanish language ability. Participants also must be able to work 30 to 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. Click here to learn more about this program.
Volunteers on the San Jose Paramedical / Rescue program assist local paramedics with providing emergency support throughout the city. Volunteers learn about stabilizing patients, CPR and first aid, rescue scenarios, and more. This program lasts four to eight weeks, and volunteers must be able to work 10 hours a day, four days per week. Volunteers also must be proficient in Spanish. Click here to learn more.
All activities in this Honduras volunteer program take place in the ambulances, either rescue activity or transferring patients from home or the workplace to the public or private hospital. You will be involved in patient transfer from Hospital of La Ceiba to Catarino Rivas Hospital in San Pedro Sula. Volunteers also participate in all rescue or support of firefighters in case of fire. Learn more here.
These programs have a variety of rehabilitation activities, including physical therapy (Cinesitherapy, thermotherapy, criotherapy, and others), occupational therapy (vocational training, movement, exercises), language therapy (sounds, hearing, expression, homework), orthopedics (trauma, audiology, dental, urology, and more), medical services, and protection of the rights in benefit of the disabled persons. Click here to learn more.
This center cares for physically challenged children by providing them with the accommodation, daily care, health care, and medication in the form of corrective surgery and education. Most of these children come from poor families who cannot care for them at home. Currently there are more than 40 children being cared for, most of them between 10-12 years old. Read more here.
What Volunteers Say
I volunteered at the Main Hospital in Cusco Peru. My best advice is to be willing to absorb & adapt to the different hospital environment. The quicker you learn how they do things there & accept that it’s not as clean & pretty as the hospital you’re used to at home, the quicker you can really jump in there & help.
Since 1995, Cross-Cultural Solutions has provided international internships, gap year experiences, volunteer trips, and high school volunteering programs in Costa Rica, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand. Programs offered through CCS include children’s development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health. To date, nearly 35,000 travelers have trusted Cross-Cultural Solutions (with a 99% approval rating from past participants), which has among the highest standards of safety and well-being in the volunteer abroad industry. Cross-Cultural Solutions’ global health initiatives in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe focus on outreach, education, and care within low-income communities.
Cross-Cultural Solutions has been a leader for 20 years in poverty alleviation and community development in Ghana. Based in the Volta region, CCS’ global health volunteer program gives you the opportunity to help adults and children suffering from malnutrition and disease through a variety of outreach, education, and support projects. A few initiatives you can assist with include malaria prevention campaigns, oral health campaigns, and hygiene promotion in local schools. Learn more and sign up here.
24 percent of India’s population lives below the poverty line, and some of the country’s most marginalized populations include women and girls, the transgender community, those living with HIV, and the 800 million individuals living in the countryside. Persistent inequality has a major affect on these populations, and access to basic healthcare is extremely lacking. As a global health volunteer in Dharamsala, you will be able to assist with outreach, education, and care through vision screening, oral health campaigns, and more. Learn more and sign up here.
Another great opportunity you can sign up for right now with Cross-Cultural Solutions is their global health volunteering program in Rabat, Morocco. For 10 years, CCS has provided support to some of the region’s most vulnerable individuals and families through public health, early childhood education, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. As a volunteer, you will be able to help with outreach, education, and care through a variety of public health projects, including vision screening for children, promotion of hygiene in schools, and more. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
One opportunity that’s perfect for younger travelers who want to learn about medicine or healthcare is Global Leadership Adventures. Combining community service, hands-on learning, and adventure travel, Global Leadership Adventures provides students with the chance to learn about healthcare and medicine in developing countries, build facilities to improve community health, and much more. And as an organization whose co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa, GLA is an amazing way for younger travelers to explore the world, make a difference, and learn about medical care and community health.
If you’re a high schooler interested in a degree in medicine or public health, check out Global Leadership Adventures’ Global Health Initiative in the Dominican Republic. As a participant on this program, you’ll have the chance to meet with community leaders to learn about health, sustainability, and education; assist doctors, nurses, and other volunteers with their work; help with construction projects, and much more. For the adventure portion of your trip, you’ll go hiking, hang out at the beach, and go on wildlife sightseeing tours. This 14-day program costs $3,699 – click here to learn more.
Another excellent program to check out through Global Leadership Adventures is their Global Health Initiative in Bali. Through this program, you’ll volunteer alongside local health professionals, NGOs, and community leaders at a primary care clinic in a small village by recording data, helping with pulse checks, restocking supplies, and more. You’ll also help develop a health education workshop for local youth as part of this program. Along with your community service program, you’ll also be able to visit temples, go on a rice paddy walk, and even take in live music and dinner at the Royal Palace. As with the Dominican Republic Global Health Initiative program, this trip lasts 14 days at $3,699. Learn more and apply here!
Founded in 1998, Global Vision International (GVI) is an award-winning organization that provides high-quality community development and conservation programs worldwide. GVI offers a variety of programs including academic year abroad, internships, under-18 programs, and volunteering abroad projects. GVI has hosted over 25,000 participants to date.
Most of GVI’s placements focus on wildlife and marine conservation, children, teaching, healthcare, construction, and sports. Volunteers may work in North and Central America, Europe, Australia, the Pacific, Asia, and Africa. GVI partners with Save the Children, The Red Cross, WWF, SANParks, and The Jane Goodall Institute to ensure quality placements and work within their communities.
Based in Kerala, volunteers on this program may work on two projects – at a special needs school and one at a relief settlement for individuals with mental and physical illnesses. Volunteers may assist with a variety of therapeutic sessions and basic activities at both of these locations. This program lasts two to 12 weeks, and volunteers will receive all training prior to beginning their work – click here to learn more.
Volunteers on this expedition will travel to Thailand and Nepal to assist with rehabilitation and health initiatives. In Thailand, volunteers work with children with physical disabilities or injuries, and may travel to schools or community centers to assist with health and hygiene lessons. In Nepal, volunteers provide support to those with special needs and train teachers, healthcare workers, and families in providing medical assistance to these individuals. There are no background requirements for this program, which lasts eight weeks. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
This really was a trip of a lifetime. My 6 week stay in South Africa was the first time I had done anything like this and certainly the first time I had been abroad on my own.
I had a great time and experienced so much whilst out in the bush. The sights and sounds of the African bush are something you can never forget, nearly 3 years on and the memories are so vivid it’s like i was there last week.
The staff both in the UK and in the field were excellent- very supportive, enthusiastic and clearly loved their jobs. In fact I have never met such passionate people and they really made me determined to finish my degree and follow in their footsteps. Overall it was an amazing trip, worth every penny, and I would 100% do it all over again!
Founded in 2006, Connect-123 offers tailor-made internships, volunteer projects, and study abroad opportunities in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and Shanghai. Through these customized travel programs, you can focus on healthcare, human rights, social work, and much more, depending on your interests and background.
Wherever you travel to, you’ll work with a local organization – whether it’s a school, hospital, nonprofit, or beyond – and you’re invited to apply year-round, and will receive housing support, orientation, weekly events, and emergency support. Right now, Connect-123 is offering several volunteer and internship placements in healthcare and public health.
One of Connect-123’s medical and healthcare opportunities takes you to Cape Town, South Africa, where you can learn about the country’s healthcare system while lending a hand in a hospital, clinic, research institute, or with a private healthcare practitioner. This internship is open to pre-med students, medical students, and healthcare professionals interested in nursing, physical therapy, public health, speech pathology, and other disciplines.
If you’re more inclined to take on a volunteer placement, Connect-123 has the chance for you to play a role in clinical healthcare and public health programsthrough their volunteer programs in South Africa. Learn more and apply here!
Another great opportunity to consider is Connect-123’s medical and healthcare placements in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where you can choose from an internship or a volunteer program. On an internship, you will learn about Latin America’s healthcare challenges while also working in a state-funded hospital along with local doctors and nurses.
Another internship that you might want to check out takes you to a foundation that focuses on treatment of conditions such as cancer, HIV, neurological disorders, and others. Connect-123 also offers medical and public health volunteer placements where you can choose to work in public health policy, health education, or directly with patients in a state or private hospital.
Naturally Africa Volunteers
Naturally Africa Volunteers was founded in 2010 by Marc Crouch and Felicity Milligan, who have over 14 years’ experience working with volunteer organizations worldwide. Headquartered in Tonbridge, Kent, Naturally Africa Volunteers offers a variety of teaching, sports, medical and healthcare, and wildlife conservation projects in Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Namibia, and South Africa.
All project partners are selected by Naturally Africa Volunteers based on sustainability objectives and work carried out to improve the living standard of disadvantaged communities and conservation of Africa’s natural habitat and wildlife.
Volunteers on this project work in a small town called Katima Mulilo, located at the bank of Zambezi River. As a volunteer, you’ll assist the doctors, nurses, and other health workers within the Caprivi region. Volunteers are placed in the Katima Mulilo Regional Hospital or local clinics, at regional centers to provide care and individual attention for vulnerable children, or at a center for children with disabilities. Volunteers must be 18 or older – click here to learn more.
This program invites qualified medical or health professionals or experienced volunteers to assist with malaria prevention and awareness, HIV/AIDS awareness, and home-based or local care, including basic medical attention. Volunteers stay in a shared house at the southern end of Lake Malawi, and meals are provided three times a day. Click here to learn more about this program.
What Volunteers Say
From June-July 2-14, I volunteered with Naturally Africa in the village of Nkope, Malawi. My experience was excellent. I was impressed with the mix of international and local staff, the commitment to cultural awareness, and genuine community engagement.
The program was oriented toward improving the lives of those in the village through health and education. Its goals were focused and realistic, making its work more impactful. The camaraderie between staff and volunteers was wonderful. I highly recommend this program.
Founded in 2009, Global Nomadic provides internship placements and volunteer experiences in a variety of fields including wildlife, environment, medical, veterinary, education, media, human rights and law, economic development, NGO development, and archaeology. This organization was developed to assist young professionals with gaining experience in their field through programs at home and abroad. Global Nomadic’s volunteers work with local NGOs, charities, and communities that help them gain hands-on experience and sharpen their skills, enabling them to further build their careers.
Medical Internship – Mongolia
This medical internship is based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and can last from one month to six months. As this is an ongoing project, there is no specific start or end date – the first month volunteer fee is $995, plus $495 for each month thereafter. Participants on this medical internship must be 18 years or older and able to work at least one month, at 30 hours of work per week. Interns can expect to shadow doctors, administer basic treatments, monitor and observe patients, assist with record keeping, and more. Click here to learn more.
Health Education and Awareness Project – Brazil
Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this project invites volunteers to provide healthcare education in low-income communities by developing healthcare strategies and organizing activities to engage the local population. Volunteers can join this project for a minimum of three weeks, with arrival dates on second and fourth Saturday of each month. You can choose to work full-time or part-time, but must be able to dedicate at least 10 hours per week to this project – you should have a background in healthcare to apply for this program. The cost for this program is $1,210 for first three weeks, plus $110 for each week after that. Click here to learn more about this program.
HIV & Public Health Internship – Uganda
Located at Kampala, Uganda, this project invites interns to work hands-on in health education in a community affected by HIV/AIDS. This is an excellent opportunity for health professionals, teachers, and students to assist with teaching the community – especially children whose families have been affected by HIV/AIDS – about the disease and its prevention, plus educating about other health concerns. This program lasts two weeks to six months, with a starting project fee of $800, plus $150 for each week after that. Interns must be able to work at least 25 hours per week. Click here to learn more about this internship.
Voluntary Projects Overseas
Projects Overseas is a nonprofit organization operating in Cambodia, Uganda, Thailand, India, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Argentina, Peru, and Costa Rica. Within 10 years, this organization has placed nearly 2,000 volunteers in different projects across the world. Voluntary Projects Overseas offers a number of placements in teaching, wildlife and conservation, construction, and community care. Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals, families, and groups, with short-term placements for those volunteers that cannot dedicate a significant amount of time to their projects.
Cameroon Internship Program
Located in Buea, Cameroon, interns on this program are asked to stay for at least three months, and may assist with health education and project coordination. No educational or healthcare qualification is required for this program. Outside of the internship, participants may visit volcanoes or beaches, go hiking, view wildlife, and lots more. This project also includes mentoring and local language coaching, as well as one to two city tours. Click here to learn more about this internship.
Ready to Travel?
If you’re new to volunteering abroad, Volunteer Forever is a fantastic way to find and fund a volunteer trip. Using the resources on this website alone, you can read program reviews, seek existing grants or scholarship funding, or create a fundraising campaign of your own. Regardless how you choose and pay for your volunteer experience, one truism remains: you will take home more than you bring along.
And if you’d like to learn more about healthcare and medical volunteering, be sure to read these handy articles:
Sarah has worked as a researcher and consultant in the volunteer travel world since 2004. With a BA from the George Washington University and background working with both public and private sector volunteer organizations, she enjoys exploring the world and collecting and sharing stories, trends, and advice with travelers who want to volunteer, intern, or teach abroad.
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