Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs for Doctors, Nurses, Pre Med Students
(Updated for 2017)
Are you a doctor, dentist, nurse, veterinarian, physical therapist or other healthcare provider with an interest in serving a community in a way that most people can’t?
Are you a pre-health student (pre med, pre dental, pre veterinarian) or aspiring medical professional looking to enhance your skill set and/or gain experience in another community across the globe through a healthcare volunteer abroad trip?
Are you willing to take part in the effort to bring first-rate healthcare to people who usually don’t have the regular opportunity to see a doctor or other healthcare provider?
If any of these applies to you, medical volunteering may be the perfect chance for you to volunteer abroad while also putting your hard-earned, specialized skills to use for people who don’t have reliable access to advanced medical care.
Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs for Doctors, Nurses, Pre Med Students
When most people think about volunteering, they think about going to a foreign country and doing something they’ve never done before, like teaching English or helping expand school buildings. Of course, while these may be incredible projects that are of great use to a community, some volunteers don’t always consider that they may be able to play a different role as a specialized volunteer, like a medical or healthcare volunteer.
Many volunteers don’t realize that they may be able to use their specialized skills and that these skills could give them the ability to serve an at-need community in a way that most volunteers could not. Medical volunteer abroad trips can be extremely rewarding, and are a great chance for people with specialized skills to participate in a volunteer project that, because of the nature of their projects, can only accept people with very specific qualifications or interests.
To participate in a medical volunteer abroad program, you don’t necessarily have to have a medical degree, as requirements vary by programs. Some programs, like affordably-priced International Volunteer HQ and Maximo Nivel, are able to accept volunteers and healthcare interns who are simply interested in medical placements while others require a degree and clinical experience. In these roles, volunteers have the opportunity to shadow licensed practitioners while providing administrative, logistical, or lingual support.
There are even pre med volunteer abroad programs specifically for undergraduates and graduate medical student volunteers. As an example, Volunteering Solutions offers participants in its Tanzania program different placements depending on whether they are pre-med, in medical school, or in dental school.
Additionally, many programs specialize in the types of programs they offer. For example, one program may have medical, nursing, dental, and physical therapy volunteer abroad projects while others only specialize in a certain area (i.e. dental volunteer abroad projects). As we go through the programs spotlighted below, we make it clear who can apply to which programs and what kind of specialized projects they offer.
You have probably heard about long-term medical volunteer abroad projects, like Doctors Without Borders (arguably the best known doctor volunteering abroad program) or the Peace Corps. However, there are also plenty of volunteer programs targeted towards medical professionals and students looking to serve in short-term projects ranging from just a few weeks to a few months.For example, the Maximo Nivel medical internships in Costa Rica, Peru, or Guatemala only require a minimum duration of four weeks.
The need for medical volunteers exists almost anywhere around the globe. Although many countries have adequate health care for most of their populations, this access doesn’t always extend to the marginalized groups or other under-served populations.
As a medical volunteer, you’ll be asked to use your skills to the betterment of those who need them most, doing work that transcends regional borders and ethnic groups. Also, it's important to realize that programs aren't just limited to doctors volunteering abroad!
When choosing a project, there are a few things that you need to consider, such as the actual program costs, which can be minimized by selecting a high-quality, affordable organization such as Volunteering Solutions or Agape Volunteers or by fundraising for your trip on Volunteer Forever. The Volunteering Solutions medical volunteer projects are especially affordable, with several placements available at less than $300 for one week (please note there is also a $225 application fee).
To start, consider creating a general list of countries where you’d be interested in volunteering abroad. When creating this list, you should do a bit of research into the costs of living or visiting the country, the costs and availability of a visa for the length of time you want to stay, and why that country stands out for you.
Next, you should make a list of the qualities that are necessary or desired in a volunteer abroad project, such as the ability to work with a local medical professional or the ability to work on your own medical specialty.
Then, as you survey medical and healthcare volunteer projects, you can highlight projects that fit most closely with what you want to get out of a volunteer program. As you do this, however, be sure to keep an open mind. Sometimes the projects that you would never initially consider that end up being the best fit for you. To make the process of finding projects a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of 13 medical volunteer abroad programs that have been vouched for by our volunteers.
We also have more in-depth articles if you're looking specifically for nursing volunteer abroad, pre dental volunteer abroad, dental medical mission trips, or health volunteer abroad trips for pharmacists, midwives, EMTs, and public health professionals.
13 Great Medical, Nursing, Dentist, Physical Therary and Doctor Volunteer Abroad Programs
Featured Program: Global Vision International (GVI)
Where they work: Fiji, Thailand, Nepal, India, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand
How long: Programs vary from two to twelve weeks and can be catered to the the volunteer’s availability.
Who can join: All volunteers are welcome, especially those interested in medicine or community health development. Volunteers under 18 are urged to apply for special projects designed for 15-17 year olds.
Know before you go: Global Vision International operates over 150 volunteers projects around the world and has projects within many different disciplines, including health care. Volunteers are typically placed within establish projects and partnerships that link GVI’s mission to local NGOs or healthcare providers.
Healthcare projects are different for each country and community, and encompass such specialties as physical therapy, preventative medicine, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, and working with the mentally disabled. Each volunteer experience is uniquely tailored to the volunteer’s skills and capabilities as well as the needs of their community. GVI’s medical volunteer projects target low-income communities and work with existing programs to both provide health care and provide education about available health care resources.
Volunteers are provided with housing in local homestays, although some locations do offer upgrades if the volunteer would like to stay by themselves or with accompanying family members or friends. Occasional side trips are provided as optional in many locations for volunteers to get a chance to see the natural beauty or cultural experiences around their placement. Volunteers are expected to spend most week days administering medical care or participating in educational health initiatives within the community.
Two Projects you should know about:
Volunteer for Healthcare Support in Nepal: Because of widespread financial inequity, the Nepalese health care system is severely understaffed. GVI’s Nepal projects aims to address this need through the service of skilled and unskilled volunteers. Volunteers serve in a community rehabilitation center, clinic, special needs school, or daycare. Volunteers’ efforts focus on assisting disabled people perform daily tasks, learn life skills, or leading rehabilitative exercises.
Volunteers also play a large role in educating teachers and family members on how to care for individuals with special needs. Although volunteers from all backgrounds are welcome, the staff asks that volunteers with special skills alert them about it so that they can best utilize the volunteer’s expertise.
Volunteers who are experienced with veterinary care should also check out GVI’s animal rehabilitation programs in Mexico, Fiji, and Nepal. Veterinary students and professionals will enjoy putting their skills to use to the benefit of animals in developing countries.
Volunteers play a significant role in the work of local and international NGOs as they perform duties such as working in local animal shelters, assist in anti-poaching initiatives, help collect and care for unwanted animals, working on neuter/spay initiatives, rehabilitating and releasing wild animals, and participating in community outreach programs. Projects are ideal for recent graduates, professionals, and those interested in a career break.
Featured Program: Maximo Nivel
Founded in Peru in 2003, Maximo Nivel offers volunteer and intern abroad programs, TEFL certification, and Spanish language programs in Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Since its start, 25,000 travelers have taken part in Maximo Nivel’s affordable programs in Latin America. Among the many educational and career-building opportunities provided by this organization are medical care internships and non-medical healthcare volunteer abroad programs for students and professionals.
Maximo Nivel offers medical care and non-medical healthcare placements to volunteers who’d like to work in hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare facilities. Healthcare projects are open to year 1 and 2 med school students, as well as pre-med, nursing, and other healthcare science students. Medical projects are open to year 3 and 4 med school students as well as licensed professionals. Depending on your experience and Spanish language abilities, you can shadow doctors or nurses, assist with checkups, run medical campaigns, help with triage, take vitals, organize patient records, and more.
Maximo Nivel’s medical programs start from $660 for one week, and include airport pickup, project management, housing, two meals per day, a walking tour, and more. To learn more about Maximo Nivel’s medical and healthcare programs, visit: http://www.maximonivel.com/volunteers/medical-healthcare/
Through Maximo Nivel’s medical internship, you can visit Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru for four weeks or longer to help communities in need and get a great deal of exposure to medical practices in developing countries. You’ll work in a hospital, clinic, private practice, or assisted living facility, while partnering with a local medical professional to learn more about their work and to gain practical experience.
A few tasks you’ll take on include patient consultation, check-ups, elderly care, health education, triage, and administrative assistance, depending on your background and qualifications. You must have intermediate Spanish language ability to apply, and you must be enrolled in a pre-med, medical, or nursing program, or be a licensed medical professional. Learn more about this medical internship at: http://maximonivel.com/internships/medical
Also based in Costa Rica, Peru, and Guatemala, Maximo Nivel’s healthcare and medical volunteering program invites you to work with local medical professionals in hospitals or clinics to provide care for patients in need. If you’re a pre-med student or in first or second year medical school, nursing school, or studying health sciences, you can sign up for a healthcare placement to work with people who are physically or mentally disabled, elderly, or affected by HIV. You’ll provide general care and companionship, sort and distribute medications, feed and bathe patients, and contribute to their overall well-being.
If you’re a medical professional or in your third or fourth year of medical school, you can volunteer alongside local doctors and nurses, and may be able to assist with check-ups, medical campaigns, triage, taking vitals, organizing patient records, and much more. The types of work you’ll do on any medical volunteering placement depend on your Spanish language ability, your background and qualifications, and what’s needed by your hospital or clinic at the time. Learn more at: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/medical-healthcare
FEATURED PROGRAM: International Volunteer Headquarters
Since International Volunteer HQ’s (IVHQ) inception in 2007, the organization has grown into one of the largest volunteer abroad providers in the world, providing safe, affordable, and responsible placements programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Pacific.
Every year, IVHQ places over 10,000 volunteers on projects focusing on childcare, teaching, medical and health, wildlife and animal care, environment, construction and renovation, arts and music, sports, community development, elderly care, special needs care, and NGO support. In addition to encouraging volunteers to fundraise through Volunteer Forever, IVHQ has partnered with CCELT Online to offer a specialized online TEFL course for volunteers, and connected with STA Travel to help volunteers create low-cost itineraries.
Located throughout Bali’s Ubud area, the Healthcare Education program invites volunteers to teach local schools about basic hygiene and health. Those volunteers with healthcare backgrounds may also organize healthcare campaigns and perform check-ups at local clinics. This program lasts one week to three months, and Bahasa Indonesia language lessons are provided for volunteers interested in taking classes. Click here to learn more about this program.
Through this program, volunteers are placed at a Kathmandu or Chitwan hospital, or a Bhaktapur medical college, where they may observe operations, work with children in physical therapy, examine and change dressing for burn patients, assist with emergency room rounds, and perform checkups for new mothers. Volunteers may work in ICU, radiology, oncology, emergency, surgery, burn unit, gynecology, pediatrics, and pharmacy, and those volunteers staying three months or longer may take on more hands-on work. Applicants must have completed at least two years of medical or nursing school. Click here to learn more about this program.
Volunteers in the Costa Rica Healthcare program are invited to assist local doctors, nurses, and caregivers in clinics for disabled children, nursing homes, ambulance services, and HIV/AIDS assisted living homes. While Costa Rican law limits volunteer contact with patients, participants may assist with physical therapy, taking vitals and curing wounds, and shadowing doctors. Volunteers must have some healthcare background in order to apply, and may have more independence with their project depending on their level of Spanish, age, personality, and more. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
Amazing experience! Accommodations were better than expected! Support and local staff were always there and always super helpful. Placement was nothing short of fantastic. Ivhq is a great organization and the Nepal program specifically is amazing! Highly recommend to everyone.
Featured Program: Love Volunteers
Types of programs offered: childcare and orphanage, community development, construction and outdoors, environment and conservation, health and medical, helping those with disabilities, sport, arts and music, summer programs, teaching and education, wildlife and animals, women’s empowerment
Where they work: Palestine, Albania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam
How long: Program lengths vary from 1-24 weeks and programs adjust accordingly
Who can join: Qualifications vary by program and project type, but there are programs appropriate for almost anyone.
Projects you should know about: Love Volunteers offers many different types of programs in over thirty different countries.
Volunteers who are interested in working in prenatal care or in labor and delivery units should check out Love Volunteer’s midwifery program in Morocco.
Dental professionals should get to know Love Volunteer’s dental volunteer project in Honduras, which allows dental volunteers to work in the dental department of a local hospital in La Ceiba.
Finally, volunteers should check out Love Volunteers’ health and medical project in Cape Town, South Africa, which is open to all those in the field of healthcare in medicine.
FEATURED PROGRAM: VOLUNTEERING SOLUTIONS
Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) is an international volunteer organization that was started in 2006. Since 2007, they have hosted over 10,000 volunteers in projects across 25+ countries, including popular destinations such as Nepal, India, Thailand, South Africa, Peru, and Costa Rica. Please note that the program has medical volunteer projects in each of the aforementioned popular destinations as well.
Volunteering Solution's volunteer projects are among the most affordably priced in the world, starting at $200 USD for one week. In addition to their 120+ volunteer projects, Volunteering Solutions also offers intern abroad opportunities, the highlight of which are their international medical internships. The program offers medical internship electives in Thailand, India, and Nepal. Volunteering Solutions has written an nice article on the difference between medical volunteering abroad and medical internship electives here.
Located in a hilyl region in Northern India, Volunteering Solution's medical and nursing internship in Palampur is geared towards medical students on their gap year abroad, who are looking for high quality clinical opportunities in an international setting. The organization places the volunteers in this project in several different medical departments such as general medicine, surgery, gynecology, and pediatrics. At the medical internship placements, medical students get an opportunity to observe and check patients from varied backgrounds and with different ailments. Click here to learn more and apply.
Volunteering Solutions provide meaningful internship opportunities for all aspiring medical professionals in the beautiful country of Nepal. This program is a volunteer work project located in the capital city of Kathmandu, where volunteers will be placed in local hospitals and other healthcare settings. This program starts at $425 for a two-week placement and is open to all pre-medical and medical students who wish to learn about healthcare practices, medical facilities, and resource management in Nepal. Click here to learn more and apply.
Volunteering Solutions also offers a medical volunteering program for students and professionals in Uganda, where you’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in your field while learning about medical and healthcare practices in Africa.
Depending on your background and qualifications, you may be able to assist with dressing wounds, checking vitals, helping patients who have mobility issues, providing day-to-day assistance to local medical staff, conducting weekly health education workshops, and performing community outreach. You also can choose to work in an area based on your specialty, such as radiology, pediatrics, surgery, dentistry, and beyond. Click here to learn more and to apply.
Since 1984, Global Volunteers has offered volunteer trips and teach abroad placements in 17 countries worldwide. More than 33,000 travelers have signed up with Global Volunteers, an impactful volunteer vacation provider that was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and formalized a relationship with UNICEF in 2008.
Healthcare-related projects available through Global Volunteers include healthcare education, hands-on healthcare, psycho-social support, early childhood education, healthcare and hygiene, and maternal and infant support. Depending on which program you sign up for and how long you’d like to travel, Global Volunteers’ program fee starts from $1,045 for your first week, and may be tax-deductible for volunteers in the United States.
Located in the South Pacific, this program invites you to assist with ongoing work in partnership with the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Education – as well as 80 different local organizations – on the island of Rarotonga. As a volunteer, you’ll help to improve educational, health, and social services for people facing economic pressures. While your work day may vary depending on what’s needed, you’ll be able to make a difference by teaching children about basic hygiene (such as handwashing) and more, all to invest in their future. During your free time, you’ll have the chance to explore the island, lay out on the beach, take mountain trips, and much more. Click here to learn more!
In India, Global Volunteers has an opportunity for you to provide support for orphaned, formerly homeless children. Through your placement, you’ll help support Global Volunteers’ five community partners outside of Chennai, including orphanage and daycare centers, a nursery/primary school, a high school, and an early intervention center.
As a volunteer, you’ll provide education and lead healthcare and nutrition projects – including teaching about healthy meals and food preparation, how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, assist with medical and dental screenings, and provide direct care for lice treatments, ear cleaning, eye exams, and more. You also can assist with early childhood education, English teaching, computer literacy, and other projects. To learn more and to sign up, visit this page.
Global Volunteers’ Tanzania volunteer program invites you to assist with a variety of medical and healthcare projects. You can teach health nutrition and hygiene education, infectious disease prevention, physical fitness, and diabetes prevention within the community, and if you’re a healthcare professional, you can administer non-invasive patient care, including lice treatments, health screenings, dental and eye exams, and more. As a volunteer, you also can help with psycho-social support for children at a daycare center, where you’ll teach English and math, organize games, and play sports. Learn more and apply to volunteer in Tanzania here.
FEATURED PROGRAM: AGAPE VOLUNTEERS
Established in 2011, Agape Volunteers is a nonprofit organization based in the United Kingdom that provides humanitarian aid to the needy throughout Africa by coordinating affordable volunteering placements and by distributing donations where they’re required.
Volunteers work in Kenya, Maasai-land, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. Each year, Agape Volunteers places hundreds of volunteers in clinics, hospitals, owned or funded schools, and community projects. In each country, volunteers can choose between six different programs, including medical work and HIV/AIDS awareness and care.
Most of Agape Volunteers’ programs last between one week and one year. The organization also offers a variety of activities and excursions, including mountain climbing, rafting, bungee jumping, safaris, gorilla trekking, and more. Each volunteer placement comes with comprehensive travel insurance that enables volunteers to make the most out of their stay in Africa.
This program invites volunteers to work in a clinic or hospital supported by Agape Volunteers. In order to take part in the program, volunteers need at least one year of medical school, or be a qualified nurse or doctor. Participants can also assist in maternity wards at night and may need to stay at the clinic overnight as the shift ends at daybreak. Volunteers stay in group houses or homestays near the placement sites. Click here to learn more.
Similar to the Kenya Medical program, volunteers work in a clinic supported by Agape, and to apply, you’ll need to have at least one year of medical school or be a qualified nurse or doctor. Volunteers start the day at 9:00am, and begin their rounds from there including checking on overnight patients, treating patients with supervision from doctors, and – if asked – assisting with more serious procedures. Most volunteers in this program are housed at Jiko Foundation orphanage with the volunteer coordinator. Click here to learn more and to apply.
Volunteers in the Maasi HIV/AIDS program work in a clinic and in wider communities, carrying out HIV tests, counselling HIV/AIDS sufferers, educating young people, and distributing medicine. Volunteers stay in group homestays near their placement sites. Accommodations are rustic – there may not be running water – so applicants should be flexible and open to a very different way of life than you may have from a typical Western background. Click here to learn more.
For more than 25 years, Global Works has combined community service, cultural exchange, language immersion, and adventure to provide a fun, impactful travel experience for high school students, educators, and groups.
So far, more than 10,000 travelers have embarked on Global Works trips, which can focus on pre-med or public health, as well as other projects such as community development, conservation, and even language immersion. Global Works’ summer service adventure trips last 8 to 21 days, and span destinations such as Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Martinique, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, and beyond. If you are a high school student who is considering applying colleges intending to major in pre-med, then this is the program for you!
Through this 17-day pre-med and public health program, you’ll have the chance to gain practical field experience while shadowing physicians and healthcare professionals in Nicaragua. You do not need previous experience to apply, so this is an excellent opportunity for students aspiring to enter the medical or healthcare field. You’ll start with an orientation and dinner in Managua, and from there, you will travel to the community of Los Muñoz, where you’ll stay in an eco-lodge and work in two remote rural villages in need to basic healthcare services.
As a volunteer, you’ll assist with sanitation and hygiene projects, construction of health centers, health visitations with professionals, and more. After your volunteer program in Los Muñoz, you’ll travel to Matagalpa, where you will learn about healthcare challenges within the city, as well as how local physicians and other professionals are working to bring medical attention and care to communities in need. From there, you’ll visit the mountains of Las Peñas Blancas en el Norte for a homestay, a volunteer activity focusing on permaculture, water, and sustainable agriculture - and to finish up your trip, you’ll visit Granada and Laguna de Apoyo for a zip-line tour, shopping, kayaking, and much more.
What Volunteers Say: Review from a Pre-Med Volunteer
This trip made me solidify my decision to be a doctor and gave me a chance to see medicine in a different country.
A Broader View Volunteer Corps (ABV)
Where they work: Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Nepal
How long: Programs last from 1 week to 12 weeks in most countries
Who can join: A Broader View offers programs for volunteers with varying healthcare experiences and skillsets. The requirements for each project are listed on ABV’s website
Know before you go: ABV volunteers work alongside qualified medical professionals to provide healthcare to underserved communities; the schedule is typically 4 to 8 hours a day. Volunteers are housed with host families to experience living in the community both as a healthcare provider and as a guest. We recommend that our volunteers take language immersion lessons, which consist of learning medical terms and conversational Spanish
A Broader View will customize the program to the volunteer’s needs, so most programs will have a flexible starting and ending date. We have a local coordinator who will pick you up at the airport, provide an orientation the first day, show you the program site, and introduce you to the host family and other volunteers. In your ABV account online, you will get a summary guide, a list of volunteers in country, and many useful links to make your trip the best experience as possible.
Dental Program: Dental volunteers will assess, participate, and have hands-on experience with different procedures under the supervision of a dental professional. The dental procedures offered include operative, endodontics, extraction, cleaning prophylaxis, oral hygienist, preventitive oral health, root canals, tooth extraction, and accompanying maxillofacial professionals and orthodontists in operating rooms.
Medical and Nurse Volunteer Abroad Professional Program: Volunteers with professional medical and nursing training are welcome to join this program. Placements occur at multiple sites including a community hospital, specialized care center, and a larger general hospital. There are opportunities for hands-on patient care, as well as observation and shadowing of a local healthcare professional. Volunteers will be supervised by a local registered medical professional and/or additional staff (trainer).
Pre-Med /Pre-Nurse/ Pre-Dental Program: As a pre medical, pre-nursing, or pre-dental undergraduate student, this is an excellent opportunity to assist in a medical center and gain hands on medical experience in your future career path. For example, you may have the opportunity to volunteer with a local foundation that believes in the physical recovery of all individuals, offering rehabilitation to all residents of the local community. This foundation offers physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, hydrotherapy, and special education to children and adults. Patients may have been disabled from example car accidents, but also from birth with Down-syndrome, autism, or birth related brain damage.
Projects you should know about:
Volunteer in Cusco, Peru (Medical Professionals and Students): Clinical placements are based in public hospitals, small clinics, and a large regional hospital in Cusco. Volunteers seeking hands-on clinical experience must be certified healthcare professionals or currently enrolled medical/nursing/dental students; volunteers will need to provide A Broader View with their credentials or current enrollment status information.
As a medical/nurse/dental healthcare volunteer you work closely with the local healthcare team with the goal of learning about universal health care and offering hands-on assistance to the local medical staff. Medical volunteer work may include taking vital signs, attending rounds with providers, charting patients, giving injections, providing general health checks, cleaning wounds, removing sutures, and assisting in deliveries.
Dental Volunteer Abroad Program in Colombia: You will have the opportunity to assess, participate, and have your hands on different procedures under the supervision of a local dental professional. The dental department at this hospital performs procedures in operative, endodontics, extraction, cleaning prophylaxis, oral hygiene, oral preventative health, root canals, and tooth extraction.
Veterinary Medicine Program in Guatemala: The program takes place in a municipal institution, which receives about 500,000 visitors annually. The center has a population of 200 animals comprising 41 different species. Many of the center’s visitors are school children coming on a school trip to learn about the animals. The program is currently going through renovations to improve the exhibits and increase the capacity for additional animals.
Naturally Africa Volunteers
Types of programs offered: Veterinary, Medical
How long: 2 weeks - 12 weeks.
Who can join: Anyone 18 and up.
Know before you go: Naturally Africa Volunteers makes a sustainable contribution to communities across Africa through education, medical and healthcare, sports and conservation projects. Volunteers play a vital role in the success of these projects and have the experience of a lifetime whilst helping to make a difference. Unlike many volunteer programs, Naturally Africa Volunteers is headquartered in Africa, enabling it to have direct knowledge of the needs of local communities. With their knowledgeable, in-country staff, volunteers can rest assured knowing that there will be 24/7 support readily available.
A project you should know about:
Lake Malawi Medical Volunteer Project: Naturally Africa Volunteers' Lake Malawi Medical Project will enable you to use your skills assist rural communities with practical healthcare, outreach work and home based care education and HIV support groups. The medical projects are ideal for practicing medical professionals, medical and pre-medical students, and those who have an interest in overseas healthcare volunteer experiences.
For those with practical skills, a key component to get involved in is wound care sessions. With limited access to hospitals or any medical supplies people in rural areas often leave serious wounds unattended to or have them dressed once and are not able to return to get clean dressings, this prevents wounds from healing and has serious consequences for the individuals affected by them. As part of our sustainable home based care training we teach groups of medical volunteers how to clean and dress wounds properly at daily morning sessions in different villages. As a volunteer you will encounter many different types of wounds from farming injuries to bicycle accidents and snake bites.
Other areas of the project that volunteers can be a part of are HIV support groups with a focus on assisting people with managing their condition and helping to organise educational outreach work to prevent the spread of the condition. You may also have the opportunity to be a part of our malaria prevention program. Malaria is widespread in Malawi and causes many unnecessary deaths each year, 0-5 year olds being the most vulnerable age group. Through education and prevention materials we hope to reduce the incidence of malaria in the communities we work in.
This project is a highly rewarding, eye opening and often life changing experience for anyone with an interest in health care. Your support will be invaluable and you are likely to leave with a lasting connection with the groups you work with. We have had several volunteers returning to this project to see the progress the communities are making and the difference their involvement has made.
One excellent organization that’s perfect for high school and under 18 travelers who want to pursue medicine or healthcare as a career is Global Leadership Adventures. Combining community service, hands-on learning, and adventure, Global Leadership Adventures invites students to learn about healthcare and medical care in developing countries, build facilities that improve community health, and much more.
Because GLA’s programs are geared toward high school travelers, they’ve implemented a five-point safety system to ensure participants are fully supported in their programs - and as an organization whose founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa, GLA is a top-notch opportunity for younger travelers to explore the world, make a difference, and learn about medicine, community health, and so much more.
If you’re in high school and want to pursue a degree and career in medicine or public health, you should definitely check out Global Leadership Adventures’ Global Health Initiative in the Dominican Republic.
Through this program, you’ll meet with community leaders to learn about health, sustainability, and education, assist traveling doctors and Peace Corps volunteers with their work, help with building projects to promote healthy lifestyles, and much more.
On the adventure side of your trip, you’ll zip line through the jungle, hike through waterfalls, and explore coral reefs on a snorkeling expedition - and as an added bonus, your adventures also make a difference: 100% of the funding from the zip lining program benefits rural health services. This 14-day program costs $3,399, and you’ll stay with fellow travelers in an eco-lodge across from a gorgeous beach. Click here to learn more and to sign up!
Created in 2014, Volunteering Journeys is a fast-growing volunteer organization offering placements in Asia and Africa. The founder’s story informs and inspires Volunteering Journeys’ amazing work as well: after working as an investment banker in London, founder Ridhi Patel quit her job in 2009 and volunteered for three months in South Africa. This experience proved to be life-changing, and shortly after, she began building Volunteering Journeys in her home country of India, with a goal to bring together travelers who wanted to explore the world, give back to the communities that welcomed them, and learn more about themselves along the way.
Volunteering Journeys sets itself apart by providing personal attention and tailored trips for all volunteers, committing to high-quality service, and engaging scientists, doctors, teachers, and community leaders on all programs. Volunteering Journeys currently offers several different medical volunteer abroad placements and healthcare programs in India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka.
If you’re a med student or a pre-med student, you’re invited to take part in Volunteering Journeys’ medical work experience program in India. Based in Kerala, South India, or in Dharamsala, North India, you’ll have the chance to learn how Indian hospitals operate compared to those in the West - a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizons and gain practical experience. During your stay, you’ll work under the supervision of a local, experienced medical professional, and you can choose to take part in a general volunteer program or in a specialized placement in your field of study or work. You also will be able to take part in outreach work and clinical health camps in rural areas alongside other medical staff. A few specialized areas you can choose from include nursing, pediatrics, physical therapy, ophthalmology, biochemistry, pharmacy, and many more fields.
For a different type of placement in India, check out Volunteering Journeys’ healthcare volunteering program in Kolkata, East India. On this program, you’ll work in the slums focusing on three different areas: providing healthy meals to children, teaching the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, and providing free health checkups for families who cannot afford to see a medical professional. You also may be able to create educational materials for children, research ways to avoid diseases prevalent in the slums, and conduct sessions with women on menstrual health. This program is a wonderful way to provide much-needed services to a community in great need while also exploring and learning about a culture different from your own.
If you’re a medical student or professional, consider signing up for Volunteering Journeys’ medical volunteering program in Cambodia. Based in Phnom Penh, you’ll work at a hospital alongside local medical professionals, providing services based on your background and skills as well as what’s needed by the team at the time. You can observe day-to-day practices, assist in surgery, provide care to patients affected by HIV and TB, and much more. You must have completed at least one year of medical or nursing school, or be a medical professional to sign up for this program, and if you must have at least three years of experience to volunteer in the surgery department.
Types of programs offered: wildlife rehabilitation, environmental development, veterinary internships, medical internships, media and journalism, human rights and law, economic development, NGO and business
Where they work: South Africa, Greece, Italy, Guatemala, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, Philippines, Thailand, Ecuador, Brazil, Bali, Cook Islands, Tanzania, Nepal, Mongolia, Mexico, Cambodia, Argentina, Perú, China, Nicaragua
How long: Volunteer placements vary but require at least a one-week commitment
Who can join: Global Nomadic welcomes volunteers of all age and education levels.
Projects you should know about: Global Nomadic offers a variety of projects for students who are entering the pre-medical or pre-veterinary fields. Volunteers for pre-veterinary or veterinary students include projects in South Africa, Thailand, Guatemala, and the Cook Islands. These projects allow veterinary volunteers to work hands-on with clinics desperately in need to passionate skilled volunteers. Students in medical schools should consider Global Nomadic’s medical internships in Tanzania, Nepal, Mongolia, Mexico, Cambodia or Argentina, which allow volunteers to work alongside medical teams to provide top-rate healthcare to people in developing areas.
International Service Learning (ISL)
Types of programs offered: global health, general medicine, osteopathy, sports medicine, nursing student volunteer abroad, dental, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, nutrition, veterinary, medical provisions trekking
Where they work: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Tanzania
How long: Programs last from 9-14 days, although special trips and schedules can be arranged for groups. Private extensions are also available.
Who can join: ISL welcomes many types of medical professionals and has special programs for faculty interested in pursuing research alongside one of their programs. Undergraduate and graduate medical students are welcome to participate, and academic credit can be arranged as requested for no extra fee with the compliance of the student’s university.
Know before you go: Founded in 1994, ISL was named one of our best volunteer programs and specializes in arranging medical volunteer trips and places a strong importance on working with respected, in-country medical providers. This way, ISL ensures that volunteering takes place in a safe, sustainable way that is comfortable and productive for the patients, clinics, and volunteers. Although the volunteer projects are integrated into the countries’ existing healthcare infrastructures, assistance provided by volunteers allows them to reach a much wider population and aims to improve rather than replace existing medical care routes. Based on the positive reviews ISL has received, if you're looking for a nursing, dentist, or doctor volunteer abroad program, we highly recommend seeing if ISL offers a trip that matches your interests and timeline.
Volunteers typically are housed in modest hostels with provided meals and work within a team of volunteers with similar interests and expertise. Because of the changing needs of the local communities, every volunteer team’s experience is unique. Volunteer teams receive a tentative itinerary before they arrive in-country, but can rely on their team leader to inform them of any changes. Volunteers who serve with ISL should expect to have constant contact with a dedicated, in-country team whose duty is to make sure that their experience and service are as productive as possible.
Projects you should know about:
Volunteer for Nursing in Belize or Mexico: Nursing volunteer programs are one of ISL’s largest and oldest volunteer abroad programs. Most nurses and pre-nursing students are integrated into diverse healthcare teams to use their unique skills to provide a more well-rounded health care experience for the patient. However, there are also specific teams of nurses that have more intensive and specialized field training and are best suited to teams of nurses volunteering together. This nursing student volunteer abroad project is especially suited to helping participants gain real-life clinical experience prior to graduation.
Hike for Humanity in Panama: Hike for Humanity (H4H) is an exciting service/adventure option. Our desire to assist those in greatest need sometimes requires reaching out to villages farthest from urban advantages. H4H teams bring essential supplies and services to the underserved in remote locations, while providing hikers with an incomparable outdoor experience in addition to the personal satisfaction of being involved in meaningful service.
Volunteer for Optometry in Panama: The World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed that a lack of eye care is one of the most common needs in developing countries, as most basic health care programs do not extend to eye care. To combat this, ISL coordinates teams of qualified optometry experts who provide testing and referrals, distribute new and used eye wear, and give educational seminars on eye care. Teams are specialized and work under the supervision of qualified optometrists.
Volunteer for Dentistry in Nicaragua: Because dental care is not usually included in socialized health care programs, many people, especially children go years without ever seeing a dentist. ISL’s Dental Volunteerism program focuses on bringing dentistry to children in underserved communities. Volunteers are supervised by in-country dental experts who they assist in screenings, dental procedures, and providing education about oral care to the community.
Let’s sum it up
Medical volunteering is a unique opportunity that can hugely benefit both the host community and the volunteer. If you’re an established medical professional, using your skills to volunteer abroad may be the perfect way for you to do what you love while having the opportunity to work in a new environment and possibly even in a different field.
For many doctors, nurses, and other medical workers, medical volunteering is a chance for them to do what they always wanted to do- enjoy personal interactions through helping people- with a different set of challenges than they would have in their usual work environment.
If you’re a graduate medical student or undergraduate pre-medical student, volunteering for health and medicine provides field experience to help you plan your own career and professional goals. For everyone, serving as part of a medical volunteer project is an excellent way to volunteer in a way that is sorely needed by communities abroad. Since medical expertise is so difficult to obtain in many parts of the world, medical volunteers are a response to what, for many communities, is a grave and enormous need.
As always, volunteering also gives you, the volunteer, the opportunity to forge a link with a community that could span decades. Your experience doesn’t have to be limited to one trip, but may extend into something that becomes simply part of your mission and experience as a medical provider. It’s common knowledge that no one can take only one volunteer trip, and we hope that this experience will deepen your dedication to your profession and desire to serve people.
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February 02, 2017 | Read 697,255 Times