(Updated for 2024)
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. Especially with many healthcare systems stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world need volunteers more than ever.
All About Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs
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. However, the need for medical volunteers exists almost everywhere around the globe. You have probably heard about long-term medical volunteer abroad projects such as Doctors Without Borders. 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.
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. 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 and medical internships 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 program. There are even pre-med volunteer abroad programs specifically for undergraduates and graduate medical student volunteers. Just keep in mind that there are guidelines (like these from the Association of American Medical Colleges) that pre-med students should abide by when being a health volunteer overseas in a medical placement, such as primarily serving in an observational role and prioritizing the welfare of the patient over your desire for hands-on clinical experience.
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 International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ). IVHQ medical programs are especially affordable, with placements starting at just $20 per day. Their programs are also extremely popular, with 3,000 volunteer who join their medical volunteer program each year. IVHQ is able to accommodate pre-medical, nursing, and medical students in their programs along with qualified health professionals.
GoEco is another trusted organization that provides medical and healthcare volunteer opportunities for anyone interested in this field whether you have medical experience or not. The programs are separated into health promotion projects and practical programs. The health promotion volunteers will help raise awareness in public health issues. The latter program will enable medical professionals to give back to a medically disadvantaged community in hands-on tasks. Projects are located in Asia, Africa, and South America. For more detailed explanations and information, click here.
Volunteering Solutions and Maximo Nivel are two other affordable organizations that are able to bring on volunteers and healthcare interns who are simply interested in medical placements, though options also are available for those travelers with a degree and clinical experience. These work well as medical mission trips for college students. In particular, Maximo Nivel offers medical & healthcare programs for pre-med students, nursing students, medical students (year 1-4), and health sciences students. In these roles, volunteers have the opportunity to shadow licensed practitioners while providing administrative, logistical, or lingual support. Note that medical students in years 3 and 4 may have more hands-on opportunities to provide care. With Volunteering Solutions as well, you don’t necessarily have to be a medical student or professional to participate – you can help with community outreach initiatives, or even shadow local doctors or nurses in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Peru, and Cambodia.
Also, consider creating a general list of countries where you’d be interested in volunteering or interning 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. For example Projects Abroad offers projects around the global including medical programs in Cambodia, nursing programs in Nepal, and dentistry programs in Mexico, while specialist organizations such as African Impact focus on medical volunteer projects and internships in Africa and Involvement Volunteers International have deep experience with public health programs in the South Pacific.
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.
If you don’t feel like you are quite ready to do a medical volunteer trip abroad yet, then consider participating in a health and medicine study abroad program. Maximo Nivel offers a structured, semester-long program that includes courses in Public Health and Medical Spanish and experiential learning such as medical internships and week-long service learning opportunities. This program is great for pre-health students as it is affordable and gives you academic credit.
We also have more in-depth articles if you’re looking specifically for nursing volunteer abroad, pre dental volunteer abroad, dental medical mission trips, medical missions trips for nurses, or health volunteer abroad trips for pharmacists, midwives, EMTs, and public health professionals.
Great Medical, Nursing, Dentist, Physical Therapy, and Doctor Volunteer Abroad Programs
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 placement programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific for over 15,000 participants each year.
Along with IVHQ’s Medical and Health programs, and medical mission trips, they offer childcare, teaching, wildlife and animal care, environment, construction and renovation, arts and music, sports, community development, elderly care, special needs care, and NGO support projects. IVHQ has partnered with STA Travel to help volunteers book cheap flights and 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 in either Manuel Antonio or San Jose. 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.
You’ll play an important role in the underfunded and understaffed clinics and hospitals in Cusco, Peru as a volunteer with IVHQ’s Medical Program. Depending upon your level of education and experience, you’ll work alongside local staff to record patients’ vital signs and health histories, socialize with patients, clean facilities, and sterilize equipment. Qualified third- and fourth-year medical students and medical professionals may find themselves assisting doctors as they take physicals and histories, clean wounds, give injections and sutures, give vaccinations, draw blood samples, and may even provide basic assistance with physiotherapy. Click here to learn more about this program.
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.
Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. With more than 150 different wildlife, marine, and medical programs, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and more. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish. Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!
This program located in the city of San Jose is separated into two components: healthcare placements and medical placements. Healthcare placement volunteers are healthcare students (nursing, medical, physical therapy, and health science) and will be able to help in general patient care such as companionship in elders home, art therapy, or lead public health workshops. The medical placements are for licensed professionals as well as third and fourth year medical students. They will be able to help in triaging patients, taking vital signs, giving injections, drawing blood, suturing, etc. depending on experiences and medical settings. Please note that even if licensed, you are not able to practice fully and freely. For more details, click here.
GoEco rates this program as one of the most comprehensive healthcare programs open to pre-med, nursing and medical students to gain experience for future careers. The pre-med placements will be observational and will expose volunteers to different medical settings and fields. For the nursing and medical placements, students will not only be able to observe different wards and disease processes, but can also partake in some hands-on tasks. One of the volunteer locations is the Teaching Hospital Karapitiya, a large public hospital with many different wards volunteers can work in. Click here to get started!
Make an impactful journey to Zambia through this program open to all who have a desire to help. The country is in need of help as it is facing extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, and unemployment. Even though there is no hands-on medical experience in this program, nursing or medical students will still gain exposure in public health as well as in community health. In this program, volunteers will work in many different settings such as clinics, patients’ homes, elderly homes, prisons, etc. Depending on where you will volunteer, you may help in administrative work in clinics, assist in public health awareness projects such as HIV education and general hygiene, or provide companionship. There are also other ways to help the community such as assisting in afterschool clubs, farming, adult literacy clubs, etc. For more details, click here.
Volunteer in the southeastern Andes Mountains in health care or for a more hands-on medical care volunteer experience. This program has opportunities available for everyone, from those just starting out at university, and those who already hold medical qualifications. Volunteers will be placed based on their level of experience, but all placements allow volunteers to experience the Peruvian health care system firsthand. Learn more here.
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
Projects Abroad is a leading international volunteering organization that was established in 1992. To date, it has hosted over 132,000 participants across 209 projects in 20 destinations around the world. The organization’s mission is to make a real impact in the communities it serves by carefully planning and monitoring its projects. Each year, it supports the education of more than 14,000 children, removes nearly 30 tonnes of litter from the environment, and plants over 18,000 trees. It also offers a Gold Standard of Support, with over 30 years of experience and thorough risk assessments for every project. The organization’s hassle-free approach includes airport pickups, local transportation, and safe, clean accommodation, all included in the price. In addition to volunteering, it offers a variety of internships and teaching abroad opportunities, as well as programs for families, groups, and high school students. Its minimum age requirements are 16 for Flexi trips and 15 for High School Specials. It also offers a lot of flexibility for volunteers, including accommodating dietary requirements, accommodation preferences, accessibility needs, and interpreter services at no additional cost wherever possible. Its most popular programs include Volunteer in Nepal, Volunteer in Cambodia, Volunteer in Tanzania, Volunteer in Ghana, Volunteer in Peru, and Volunteer in Fiji. Its programs start at $1,295 for 1 week.
Medical Placements with Projects Abroad
Experience is key when it comes to starting a career in medicine. Projects Abroad’s wide list of Medical Internships lets you get your career off to the best possible start with practical international experience.
Put that white coat on and shadow professional doctors and nurses where they work. You’ll gain unique insight into the healthcare of a developing country and witness eye-opening medical procedures and conditions.
You can intern in a specialization, including Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Physical Therapy, Nutrition, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, and Speech therapy. On many of these internships, you can rotate between different hospital departments, like surgery, maternity, and pediatrics. This holistic experience will prepare you for many areas of your upcoming studies. An international internship is perfect to expand your medical horizons as you learn about healthcare in countries like Ghana, Nepal, Argentina, Peru, and more.
What volunteers say:
“I had many life changing experiences in the hospital and expanded upon my current medical knowledge, learning things that I can bring back to America that help me tremendously. To be able to have had these experiences before I even graduate college is amazing and I am certain that I want to pursue a career in medicine.” -Jenna, Medicine in the Philippines
Searching for a transformative experience abroad? Involvement Volunteers International (IVI), established in 1989, beckons individuals to be part of 25,000 volunteers who’ve positively impacted 112 projects in 23 countries.
Boasting a 34-year legacy, IVI is a unique non-profit. Their focus? Empowering communities in the South Pacific (Fiji) and India. Beyond just travel and volunteering, IVI delves deep into humanitarian aid and emergency disaster relief, supporting impoverished communities and refugees. University students also find opportunities to complete practicum hours in multiple health-related sectors such as medicine, dentistry, mental health, public health and more.
Diverse Opportunities for Health Volunteering and Medical Internships
IVI offers a wide variety of medical volunteer abroad projects. For those eyeing internships, there are openings in medicine, public health, nutrition, and physiotherapy across destinations such as Peru, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. These internships come with guaranteed hours and essential documentation for university placements.
Catering to all Travelers
Whether you are a solo traveler, family, or university group, IVI has something for everyone. From teaching to construction, their projects cater to different needs. They even curate specialized itineraries for larger groups, making them a top pick for school expeditions.
For those aged 16-17, parental consent is mandatory.
Curious about IVI? Explore their story on their official website: volunteering.org.au. With IVI, an enriching global adventure awaits!
Volunteer in Fiji (Flagship Program)
Fiji is Involvement Volunteers International’s premier destination where they have over 25 years of operational history. With over one third of the population below the poverty line, high rates of malnutrition, and low literacy rates, Fijian communities desperately need the support of international volunteers. IVI offers a diverse array of health-related project opportunities, including Public Health & Nutrition, Medical Care, Mental Health Outreach, Medical Internships, and more. Project fees are extremely affordable starting at just $295 and includes accommodation, meals, airport pickup, 24/7 in-country support and so much more. Click here to learn more about volunteering in Fiji with IVI.
IVI’s medical volunteer projects in the Philippines on the beautiful island of Palawan. Palawan is a picturesque vacation destination that, like the rest of the country, suffers from poverty, malnutrition, and lack of access to education, and frequent natural disasters such as typhoons. On Palawan, IVI has set up rural healthcare project where volunteers can work in the village medical center. As a medical volunteer, you will have the opportunity to shadow local doctors, educate the local community on healthy living, and perform health checks on visitors. Program fees start at a very affordable $495 per week and include accommodations at a volunteer house where you will have the opportunity to live with your fellow volunteering participants. Click here to learn more and apply.
Guatemala is a Central American country where the population is largely impoverished with 23% of people living in extreme poverty. Furthermore, the indigenous population in Guatemala has very high rates of malnutrition with 8 out of 10 children undernourished. Furthermore, hospitals and clinics in Guatemala are often understaffed necessitating the need for international volunteers. As a medical volunteer, you’ll conduct health screenings for local communities, raise awareness about nutrition and diabetes, and give hygiene advice to the local population. Program fees start at $525 per week. Click here to learn more and apply.
Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) is an international volunteer organization that was started in 2006. Since 2007, they have hosted over 17,000 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 hilly 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.
African Impact is an award-winning, responsible travel organization that offers multiple medical and public health volunteer and internship opportunities in 7 countries across Africa. It was founded in 2004 and has since hosted over 35,000 volunteers. African Impact has over 20 different projects, ranging from teaching in Zambia to marine conservation in Zanzibar. The organization is known for its long-term objectives and measurable change. It is also recognized as a trusted specialist on volunteering and interning in Southern Africa. African Impact offers internships, as well as group, family, and high school projects. The minimum age requirement for their projects is 16, making African Impact a great option for teen and high school volunteers (i.e. aspiring pre-medical students).
Based in Limuru, central Kenya, this program gives you the chance to work alongside local health professionals in a hospital or clinic, and provide valuable healthcare advice in schools and orphanages. As a volunteer, you’ll gain insight into Kenya’s healthcare system, lend a hand in an understaffed clinic, spend one-on-one time with vulnerable children to help with their development, and much more. Your specific placement will depend on your background and level of experience, and may include observation, hands-on assistance for patients (under supervision), leading workshops, and other activities. Learn more and apply here!
The Public Health Internship in Zambia is a four-week global health program that takes place in the town of Livingstone. The internship is designed to improve access to and the quality of healthcare in the area. Volunteers will work in a low-income area to determine the health of community populations, launch and run initiatives, and address context-specific barriers to effective healthcare. The program provides participants with practical experience and allows them to explore key issues in Zambia’s public healthcare system. Through the program, volunteers will gain an understanding of social research methods in an under-resourced area and learn how to report on issues surrounding health. They will also have the opportunity to engage with healthcare workers, professionals, and NGOs in a variety of settings to learn about current health challenges and emerging trends. In addition, volunteers will deliver practical workshops on topics such as disease prevention and healthy living. They will also learn how to collect and interpret data and survey methodology to help analyze health indicators. The program takes place in Livingstone, a beautiful rural town in southern Zambia located near the Zambezi river and the border of Zimbabwe. The town is a hub for visitors looking to experience Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. In their free time, volunteers can participate in a variety of adventure activities and explore the town’s rich culture and history. Accommodation is provided at the Victoria Falls Backpackers Zambia, which offers a range of amenities including a swimming pool, lounge, bar, and fire pit area. The program is a great opportunity for volunteers to gain practical experience in public health and make a positive impact on the communities they serve. Learn more and apply here!
Located in Livingstone, Tanzania, this volunteer opportunity focuses more on community support and public health awareness. A few projects that you can get involved in include:
- Social support and home-based care for patients who are housebound
- Educating children, youth, and adults about hygiene, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and other topics
- Providing support and companionship at a home for the elderly
- Helping clinic staff with administration and pre-clinic checks, packaging medications, and weighing babies
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 home-stays, 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 weekdays administering medical care or participating in educational health initiatives within the community.
Four projects you should know about:
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.
On GVI’s volunteer healthcare projects in South Africa, you will travel to Cape Town to work at a community center for children who have physical and intellectual disabilities. As a volunteer, you’ll have the chance to work one-on-one to help these children reach their full potential through therapy – you also will take part in educational workshops that teach good health and hygiene practices.
Another excellent opportunity you can apply for right now with GVI is their South Asia Healthcare Expedition, where you will travel to Nepal and Thailand to assist with general health and hygiene education of local communities, while also caring for people who have special needs. In Thailand, you will stay in Phang Nga, volunteering Monday through Friday at a center for disabled children, who you will support through exercises, play therapy, art therapy, and other activities. In Nepal, you will volunteer in an integrated special needs school, where you can help with leading rehabilitative exercises, assisting with health and hygiene education, and much more to support family members and teachers.
This program focuses on improving and bringing awareness of physical and mental health to women and girls in Ghana. You will help plan and lead workshops on first aid, malaria, nutrition, fitness, menstrual health education, and other health concerns as needed or appropriate. Even though volunteers will not be able to participate or observe medical procedures or treatments, public health is a sector of medical health. It is just as important to learn about illness prevention in the community. When you’re not volunteering, there are plenty of activities to immerse yourself in Ghanaian culture, or stroll through local markets and fishing communities. To learn more about this volunteer program, click here!
With more than 20,000 volunteers placed on meaningful programs overseas since 2009 (and 4,000 just in the past year), Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing volunteer organizations in the world. Programs are affordably-priced, starting from only $309 for your first week of a medical internship, depending on where you travel. Right now, Love Volunteers works in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different projects. Some of their most popular destinations include:
- Asia: Nepal, Thailand, Bali
- Latin America: Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador
- Africa: South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania
Based in Rabat, this program gives you the chance to shadow and learn from local medical professionals in labor and delivery wards. You also will be able to provide much-needed support to understaffed hospitals in administrative functions, and depending on your level of experience, you can provide care and support to patients. To apply, you must be a pre-med student, medical student, or have experience in a medical field. This internship starts from four weeks at $1,149 – learn more and apply here.
Travel to Central America on this internship with Love Volunteers, where you can work in a public hospital in La Ceiba, Honduras. Your responsibilities as an intern will vary depending on your level of experience, but can include observation and assisting with minor tasks and procedures. To sign up, you must have at least intermediate Spanish language ability, though you also can take Spanish classes at a local language school to enhance your skills. This program starts from one week at $309 – learn more and sign up here!
Another excellent pre-medical internship with Love Volunteers brings you to Cape Town, South Africa, where you can assist in a government-funded clinic for people who cannot afford private medical care. As an intern, you will have the opportunity to observe local staff and learn about their work, and depending on your comfort level and background, you can assist with day-to-day care such as wound care, taking measurements, and more. You also will help with awareness and education programs. As with most other medical internships abroad, you must be in pre-med or medical school, or have some experience in the medical field. This internship starts from two weeks at $449 – click here to apply!
For a South American experience, visit Quito, Ecuador for this medical internship, where you will assist in a hospital, clinic, or care facility. You will start with shadowing local healthcare and medical professionals during your placement, and depending on your education and experience, you can take part in different procedures or help doctors and nurses with their daily work. This pre medical internship is open not only to students and professionals, but also to volunteers interested in learning about medical care – if you do not have medical education or experience, you may only be able to observe, but you will learn a great deal through your experience in Ecuador. This internship starts from one week at $549 – learn more and apply here!
Types of programs offered: Medical, Dental, Veterinary, EMT, Emergency Rescue, Pre Med, Pre Nursing, Pre Dental, Nursing Volunteer Abroad
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.
Doctors without Borders Alternative: A Broader View is involved in Medicine Internships, Medical Electives, and Professional Medicine Placements for volunteers of all ages looking to do an internship in a non-emergency context.
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:
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 at local hospitals or clinics 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.
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.
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.
Founded in 1984, Raleigh International offers volunteer programs for youth and young adults in Nepal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Tanzania. 400,000 volunteers have traveled with Raleigh International since its inception, with another 800 on track to sign up this year. With a commitment to quality and sustainable programming, 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’re interested in global health solutions, Raleigh International has opportunities for volunteers to help provide access to clean water, improve sanitation, and promote good hygiene practices among vulnerable communities.
Based in a rural village in Gorkha, you will be able to make a difference by volunteering with an initiative to improve access to safe water and sanitation. This is especially important in an area where 85% of homes were affected by the devastating earthquake of 2015 – as a volunteer, you will help with digging trenches, laying pipes, and awareness-raising to help those living in this community lead healthy lives. As part of this expedition, you also will have the chance to go trekking in the foothills of the Ganesh Himal mountains. Learn more and register here!
Another of Raleigh International’s volunteer expeditions brings you to Tanzania for 5, 7, or 10 weeks to live with a remote community and volunteer on programs where you can help to improve access to clean water, assist with hygiene awareness events, and teach about natural resources and sustainability, all to help improve the basic healthcare and well-being of a vulnerable community. In addition to volunteering, you will be able to go on an adventure trek to the Southern Highlands and see wild animals on a visit to Ruaha National Park. Learn more here!
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. Volunteer medical missions, intern trips, and solo trips are all fun and fulfilling options.
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.