(Updated for 2020)
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.
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. 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. In fact, you might be surprised to know that over 3,000 students and medical professionals volunteer with International Volunteer HQ each year!
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 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. Some organizations, like affordably-priced International Volunteer HQ, are able to accept volunteers who are pre-med, pre-health, and pre-nursing students. Placements for qualified healthcare professionals also are available through IVHQ, which has over 10 years’ experience providing medical electives worldwide.
Plan My Gap Year and Maximo Nivel are two more 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 Plan My Gap Year 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 India, Ghana, Bali, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
Other programs such as Agape Volunteers offer participants in its Ghana program different placements depending on whether they are pre-med, in nursing school, in medical school, or in dental school. This program is particularly affordable since it includes free comprehensive travel insurance and no additional registration fee. This makes it a good option for medical mission trips. Agape also offers low-cost medical volunteer programs in Kenya and Tanzania in case you are interested in other locations in Africa.
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. HIV/AIDS volunteer abroad projects). Agape Volunteers’ HIV prevention volunteer program in Kenya is unique since you can take part in an internationally-recognized HIV testing and counseling course. 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. These are ideal for shorter medical mission trips. 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 internationally traveling doctors!
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 Plan My Gap Year (which received special recognition from the United Nations in Sri Lanka), or Agape Volunteers. The Plan My Gap Year medical volunteer projects are especially affordable, with placements starting at $330 for 2 weeks (please note there is also a $249 application fee). Here are a couple affordable Plan My Gap Year medical volunteer projects you should definitely consider:
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, 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 placements programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific for over 10,000 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. In addition to encouraging volunteers to fundraise through Volunteer Forever, 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. 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.
Plan My Gap Year has offered affordable and impactful medical volunteer abroad trips to Africa and Asia since 2011, with projects focusing on childcare, teaching, wildlife conservation, community development, medical care, and mental health and psychology. With some of the most low-cost volunteer abroad programs worldwide, PMGY prides itself on transparency and accountability, ensuring that your trip is safe and makes a difference, and that as a participant, you know where your money is going. With awards including the Shell LiveWire Grand Idea Award, Thailand Green Excellence Award, and Special Recognition from the United Nations in Sri Lanka, Plan My Gap Year is a wonderful choice for a sustainable and adventurous experience. Right now, PMGY is offering a wide range of medical volunteer opportunities, including nursing, physical therapy, midwifery, dentistry, pediatrics, and surgery throughout Africa and Asia.
Travel to Tanzania and volunteer with Plan My Gap Year at an Arusha government hospital – here, you’ll have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience and insight into a local healthcare system while learning from physicians and support staff. Open to people with all medical backgrounds, this program invites you to focus on one of several different departments, including dental, diabetes, general consultation, laboratory, HIV awareness and testing, midwifery and labor, pediatrics, and more. This program starts from two weeks at $540, and you can stay up to six months. Learn more and apply here!
Another excellent medical volunteering program that you can be a part of with Plan My Gap Year brings you to Bali, where you can learn about traditional healing methods and how they are being integrated with more modern, western medicines and healthcare practices. As a volunteer, you will participate in a seminar that explains the importance of traditional culture in the care of each patient and how medical professionals cater to these beliefs. This program brings you to the busy, government-operated hospital of Rumah Sakit Umum Tabanan, which admits nearly 500 new patients each day – departments that you can learn about include intensive care, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency, ultrasound, general medicine, and others. Program fees start at $435 for two weeks, and you may stay up to four months. Click here to learn more!
Volunteer with Plan My Gap Year as a medical volunteer in India, working with local people from the slums and rural areas of New Delhi. Alongside other volunteers, you’ll support patients seeking health care in the free medical camps, in local clinics and in local hospitals. This unique and caring program is open to people with an interest in health care, as well as medical students and professionals. The opportunity provides experience in the following areas: Accident and Emergency, Anesthetics, Dentistry, General Surgery, Maternity and Midwifery, Nursing, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Occupational Therapy, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Pathology, Physiotherapy, and Ultrasound. As a volunteer caregiver, you’ll perform basic duties such as checking a patient’s vital signs and treating minor wounds under the supervision of the local doctors. If you wish, you can shadow physicians at Royal Hospital and Ghal Hospital. Fees for this two-week program start at $330. Sign up here!
PMGY’s Ghana medical volunteer program is a fantastic way to gain firsthand experience in the health system. Based in Kumasi, you will work at the Manhyia government hospital, where depending on your background, you can support areas such as Adolescent Counseling, Community Health Education, Dentistry, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), General Surgery, Laboratory, Nursing, and Maternity & Midwifery. This program lasts two to 24 weeks, and starts from $200. Start your application here!
If you are in medical school or interested in pursuing a career in medicine, PMGY’s Sri Lanka medical experience may be the perfect opportunity to gain insight and exposure to the medical and healthcare field. Based on your background and whether you are currently studying a health-related subject, you may be placed at a private hospital or in a government-run one. A few departments you may be able to work in include physiotherapy, radiology, dental surgery, in-patient, out-patient, and more. This program starts from two weeks at $400, and you’re invited to stay up to three months. Get started 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
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, 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 Nairobi. 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 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 and complete a certification program for further qualification in the area. Click here to learn more.
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!
Projects Abroad is a leading international volunteering organization, operating in more than 50 countries around the world. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has sent more than 100,000 people on meaningful volunteer programs overseas. Volunteers range in age from 16 to 75, and each one contributes to the global economy when they travel. Volunteers and the people they help learn more about each other through cultural exchange, fostering respect and a sustainable future.
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
Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 45 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. With more than 170 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.
GoEco’s Delhi medical internship in India is a great way for medical students to gain international medical work experience in their field. Through this program, you will work for two to eight weeks at a private hospital with modern medical facilities while you shadow and learn from local doctors. You can choose to work in a variety of departments including emergency, pharmacy, radiology/imaging, general wards, nursing, and several others. During your internship, you will have the chance to explore Delhi, the Taj Mahal, Dharamsala, and many other stunning locations. Learn more and apply here!
For two weeks to three months, this program gives you the opportunity to increase HIV/AIDS support and health care to rural villages around St. Lucia. A few projects that you can focus on include home-based care and nutrition, HIV/AIDS support group, family empowerment, HIV education classes for adults, and gardening/building and refurbishment. During your free time, you can travel throughout St. Lucia, go surfing and snorkeling at Cape Vidal, go on a game drive through iSimangaliso, or even take a weekend trip to Mozambique. Learn more and sign up 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.
Become a medical intern in a hospital in Cape Town! This medical internship focuses heavily on the shadowing of medical professionals, but those who are qualified may be able to assist in hands-on tasks, such as assisting the nursing staff with vital signs and administering HIV tests. Interns may be placed in triage, pharmacy or maternity obstetrics units. Register here.
The Intern Group, launched in 2011, places travelers on customized international internships in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. An award-winning social enterprise, the Intern Group selects 2,000 participants annually, improving their skills and employability. Its applicants represent more than 600 different universities, and its network includes more than 2,000 leading employers. It’s been featured in top media outlets including Forbes, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and CNN. The Intern Group provides visa assistance, development workshops and tools, professional career training, social and cultural events, quality housing, and 24/7 support. They also partner with Talkspace, giving participants access to a licensed, online therapist while adjusting to life abroad.
Visit Colombia, one of the fastest-growing economies in South America, on a medical or public health internship. During your international elective here, you’ll gain valuable first-hand knowledge and experience in global healthcare. If you have completed two years of medical school, and have a basic understanding of Spanish, you’ll be able to interact with patients and learn more about medical treatments in the areas of accident and emergency, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, clinical medicine, and psychiatry. The Intern Group partners with a hand-picked selection of first-class private and public hospitals, ensuring you have the best experience possible. Kickstart your Spanish-speaking skills with a two-week language-immersion course in Colombia prior to starting your internship. Program fees begin at $2,490 for two weeks, with longer stays available. Learn more and apply here!
Advance your academic experience with a psychology placement in Dublin, Ireland! One of the most popular scholarly disciplines, psychology is a competitive field – when you take on an internship in psychology, you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned in the classroom and put it into context. Work with NGOs that focus on mental health or substance abuse, assisting with statistical or data analysis and research, or human resources. You’ll gain valuable connections, build close relationships, and enjoy weekend adventures including the Guinness Storehouse tour, the EPIC Ireland exhibit, an Irish dance party, a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, and a literary night. Placement fees start at $4,869 for six weeks, and you can stay up to six months. Learn more and sign up here.
If you’re interested in a career in healthcare, check out this social work internship in Madrid that not only boosts your resume, but helps you stand out as a top candidate in the job market. During this internships, you’ll work with major international social work organizations, such as One Young World, that focus on access to healthcare and education to help victims of war and domestic abuse. Your cultural calendar while in Madrid will include a traditional Spanish night out, enjoying dinner and a Flamenco show – you also can tour Santiago Bernabéu and the Real Madrid Stadium, and take a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Toledo. Program fees start at $4,570 for six weeks, with stays up to six months. Learn more here and start your application today!
Another program for those interested in medicine and healthcare is the biomedicine or biotechnology science internship in New York City, placing you alongside some of the brightest academic minds in the world! This opportunity allows you to develop professional skills and gain real-world experience while living in an exciting cosmopolitan city while learning from leading researchers within the specialty of your choice. While you’re in New York City, check out Central Park, as well as the Zoo and the Tavern on the Green. Spend free time at Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) and the MoMA, or Museum of Modern Art. Program fees are $6,910 for eight weeks, with stays of six months available. Read more here and apply today!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Global Volunteers works worldwide, placing travelers on internships, volunteer trips, gap years, TEFL, and teach abroad placements in the fields of mentoring children, teaching English, assisting with health care, community gardening, and building development. Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers has placed more than 34,000 volunteers of all ages on programs in 202 host communities on six continents. Your safety is a priority, and Global Volunteers team leaders are certified in CPR and first aid. For volunteers serving abroad, an emergency medical evacuation insurance is part of the placement package. Emergency contact is available for all travelers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Global Volunteers is one of the longest-running volunteer vacation providers in the world, and was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and has partnered with UNICEF since 2008.
First-time volunteers are eligible for deep discounts from Global Volunteers on a limited basis. Ranging from $50 to $500, discounts are available for full-time students, groups, and even for early registration. Earn $100 credit for referrals, with no limit on the number of referrals. Alumni volunteers appreciate the $200 discount when traveling on international programs, and the $50 discount for U.S. programs with Global Volunteers. Read more about how you can save money traveling abroad with Global Volunteers.
Just south of the equator and on the east coast of Africa, you will find the rare treasure of Tanzania. Volunteer here and you’ll make meaningful relationships, and help to improve the lives you touch. Your heart will soar with the immense variety of opportunities to choose from here, from projects that focus on education, health care, and repair and maintenance. There are classroom opportunities to teach English, math, biology, chemistry, physics, and geography. If computers are your hobby, you will enjoy teaching primary and secondary students skills to improve their computer literacy.
Volunteers with experience in health care will find it fascinating to train rural medical aides to assist women with their pregnancies. Global Volunteers’ new health clinic in Tanzania will provide primary care for between 16,000 and 20,000 people, with a focus on maternal and child health care. Health care professionals and other volunteers will benefit from observing and assisting the staff: a physician and/or nurse practitioner, RNs, LPNs, a lab technician, and support personnel. The new facility includes two examination rooms, delivery room, a four-bed maternity ward, a four-bed inpatient ward, lab, and a pharmacy. Volunteers may:
- Perform engaging workshops on nutrition, infectious diseases, and diabetes prevention
- Encourage physical fitness to increase health and wellness
- Provide patient care at the new health clinic
- Assist staff physicians and nurses
- Help at the well-baby clinic
- Administer health screenings and checkups
- Conduct hand washing with soap & water campaigns
Home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and the “Big 5” – elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos and rhinos – Tanzania is known for big things. Join Global Volunteers in Tanzania and you will make a big difference in the lives of Tanzanians, and most of all, you will be a witness to the enormous resiliency of the human spirit. Choose from one week or longer, with fees starting at $2,095. The costs includes educational materials, accommodation, food, transportation to your project. Read more and apply here.
Global Volunteers offers health care and health education projects worldwide, and medical professionals and volunteers in Peru may participate in the following areas: Non-invasive assignments include: Pre- and post-natal counseling, pediatric care, maternal health and nutrition, breastfeeding support, physical therapy, diabetes screening and education, dental hygiene, proper hand-washing, first-aid training, disease prevention, HIV/AIDS and STD education, eye exams, and blood pressure checks.
Peru’s coast supports the world’s most bountiful sources of seafood. While you’re in-country, be sure to try some of the amazing Peruvian dishes such as Ceviche and Loma Sultado. If you go inland, take a trip to the majestic Machu Picchu. Some say you will feel a touch of heaven up above the clouds. Your contribution fee begins at $2,750. One- and two-week itineraries are available, and include lodging, food, local transportation, and project materials. Trained staff are onsite. Read more and register here.
Join Global Volunteers in St. Lucia on a health care program supporting children, and their families, who are facing challenges in nutrition, health care, and education. In partnership with local schools and community organizations, you’ll provide infant support, help with early childhood education, teach health and hygiene lessons.
You also can take part in a food, diet, and nutrition project in St. Lucia. Assist Global Volunteers staff and other visitors as they plant and maintain earthbox container gardens, and teach these skills to families. Depending upon your level of experience and your willingness to learn, you can provide nutrition education and teach healthy meal preparation in schools, clinics, and community centers. Help to construct rainwater catchment systems, and build fuel-efficient stoves. Take part in a reforestation effort and plant trees.
St. Lucia is an Eastern Caribbean island nation and known for its majestic twin peaks, “The Pitons,” a world heritage site on its west coast. Home to volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, fishing villages and luxury resorts, one of which is your base of operations. You’ll stay in secure and comfortable hotel accommodations at JJ’s Paradise Resort, on Marigot Bay, just minutes north of Anse la Raye. Each cottage is double occupancy, and features a private bathroom. This project starts from one week at $2,795, with family and group opportunities available as well.
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.
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.
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!
Founded in 2004, African Impact is a great organization to check out if you’re interested in medical care and public health. With volunteer programs and internships in HIV/AIDS support and healthcare in clinics, rural communities, and beyond, African Impact offers lots of opportunities for you to gain new skills and make a difference. With recognition such as the Imvelo Award for Best Social Involvement as well as GoAbroad’s Innovative New Program Award, African Impact offers quality placements with sustainable and measurable goals.
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!
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
Since 1995, Cross-Cultural Solutions has offered internships, gap year experiences, volunteer trips, and high school volunteering programs throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Programs you can sign up for include children’s development, girl and women empowerment, and global health. So far, nearly 35,000 travelers have trusted Cross-Cultural Solutions (with a 99% approval rating from past participants), which is proud to boast some of the highest standards of safety and well-being in the volunteer abroad industry. Cross-Cultural Solutions’ global health initiatives focus on outreach, education, and care within low-income communities.
For 20 years, Cross-Cultural Solutions has been working in Ghana to alleviate poverty, administer relief, and to help families and individuals build better futures for themselves. And while many advances have been made in healthcare, hygiene, and more, there’s still much to be done to combat malnutrition and disease. As a global health volunteer, you will assist with projects such as malaria prevention campaigns, vision screening for children, oral health campaigns, and promotion of hygiene in schools. Learn more and sign up here.
Although India is a beautiful and culturally diverse country, pervasive inequality affects all areas of life for some of the country’s most marginalized populations. Women and girls, individuals living in rural areas, those affected by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and other groups throughout the nation suffer from lack of quality education, healthcare, and resources. Through CCS’ global health volunteering program in Dharamsala, you will be able to assist with outreach, education, and care initiatives to support some of the region’s most vulnerable populations. Learn more here.
Based in Rabat, Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Morocco global health volunteer program gives you the chance to support underserved and impoverished families and children. For nearly a decade, CCS has provided volunteer assistance to this region with healthcare, empowerment, and children’s development initiatives. As a volunteer, you will help to augment Morocco’s health care system by working with adults and children in low-income communities. A few tasks you can take on include vision screening, oral health campaigns, and hygiene education in schools. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Iko Poran is a fantastic choice if you’re traveling on a budget but still want to make a positive impact along the way. Since 2002, Iko Poran has offered volunteer placements throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where you can help with a wide variety of initiatives, including medical and health promotion, and starting from just $175 for your first week abroad.
Iko Poran also has been recognized internationally for their accomplishments – for example, they were featured as a success case in volunteerism at a UN World Summit, and highlighted as a Public Interest Organization by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice since 2007. Right now, Iko Poran is offering medical and health volunteer programs in Thailand, Nepal, Brazil, Peru, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Based in Kathmandu city, this program is a great way to learn about the Nepalese healthcare system while immersing yourself in the local culture. Your tasks will vary depending on your background, but if you have medical training or formal experience, you will be able to practice non-intrusive care for patients, under supervision from local professionals. This program starts from $330 for your first week in Nepal, with housing included in a homestay or in a monastery.
Another opportunity to check out with Iko Poran is their HIV/AIDS prevention program in Uganda. As a country greatly affected by the AIDS epidemic, Uganda is home to more than 1 million AIDS orphans. As a volunteer, you will provide much-needed services through HIV/AIDS education and awareness, counseling and training, testing, and other duties. To apply, you must be a medical student, EMT or paramedic, or a nurse or physician. This program starts from $250 for your first week in Uganda.
Since 2009, Global Nomadic has provided volunteer trips and internships for travelers who would like to build new skills and enhance their careers abroad. As a participant on one of Global Nomadic’s programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Pacific, you can be sure your efforts will be sustainable and impactful by working alongside local NGOs on initiatives relating to your degree or career goals, with transparent placement costs and the opportunity to speak directly with your in-country coordinator when you register. Right now, Global Nomadic is offering several different medical and healthcare programs worldwide.
Based in Kathmandu, this internship invites you to help provide general medical services, community healthcare, and promote health education in Nepal. If you are a student specializing in a particular field, you can choose to work in gynecology, pediatrics, general medicine, nursing, emergency, pharmacy, occupational therapy, or dentistry. During your placement at the clinic, you will work alongside local medical doctors and support staff, and learn about the Nepalese health sector while also building your skills. To sign up, you must be studying medicine or have a medical background – learn more and apply here!
If you have a medical background and three months to travel, you are invited to volunteer with Global Nomadic in Malawi, where you will have the chance to support a rural government medical center. During your stay, you will work Monday through Friday in a variety of areas depending on your background and skills, including:
- Treating patients with a wide range of illnesses and ailments
- Developing community health education programs
- Conducting health education workshops at local schools or with community groups
Travel to a tropical paradise and gain hands-on experience with animal-assisted therapy! Through this program, you will help children and adolescents who are disabled or who have experienced trauma – a few of your tasks can include assisting with daily activities for the children, providing organizational support, planning and preparing activities and events, and motivating and encouraging children to take part in recreational activities. This internship is a wonderful way to learn about how equine therapy can make a difference in mental health, physical fitness, stress relief, and overcoming anxiety and depression. Learn more and register here.
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 organize 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.
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:
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 (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.
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.
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.
Since 2006, Connect-123 has offered personalized international internships, volunteer placements, and study abroad programs in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. With these customized travel opportunities, you can focus on healthcare, human rights, education, sustainable development, marketing, entrepreneurship, and much more.
All of Connect-123’s placements are hosted locally – with schools, NGOs, hospitals, and other groups and organizations – and with flexible start and end dates, you can sign up to travel year-round.
Connect-123 also provides housing support, orientation, weekly events, and emergency support to make sure that you have a wonderful experience right from the start. Right now, there are several different medical volunteer programs and internships focusing on public health and community support that you can sign up for, including these two in South Africa and Argentina.
One of Connect-123’s medical and healthcare opportunities brings you to Cape Town, South Africa, where you can learn about the country’s healthcare system while working in a hospital, clinic, research institute, or with a private health practitioner.
This program is open to pre-med students, medical students, and healthcare professionals interested in nursing, physical therapy, public health, speech pathology, and other disciplines. A few ways you can assist include providing non-medical care to pediatric patients, helping with medical research, and working with public health-related programs. Click here to apply!
If you’d rather travel to South America, check out Connect-123’s medical and healthcare placements in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On an internship, you’ll be able to learn about Latin America’s unique medical challenges while also working in a large, state-funded hospital alongside local doctors and nurses.
You also can choose to pursue an internship at a foundation focusing on treatment of cancer, HIV, neurological disorders, and other conditions. Connect-123 also offers medical and public health volunteer programs, where you can work in public health policy, health education, or even directly with patients in a state or private hospital. Learn more and apply here!
If you aspire to be a traveling doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider – or if you’d like to gain first aid skills or learn about public health – Rustic Pathways is a fantastic place to start. With student trips combining education, travel, and philanthropy, Rustic Pathways offers adventurous and impactful medical mission trips for college students and high school students worldwide. More than 8,000 students are expected to embark on trips this year, and with recognition as WYSTC’s 2015 Best Youth Tour Operator, decades of experience from local staff, a commitment to participant safety, and a dedication to providing affordable travel opportunities (including more than 100 scholarships awarded each year), Rustic Pathways should definitely be at the top of your list if you’re a student traveler.
On this 16-day trip, you will visit the Dominican Republic to learn about public health projects across this island nation. Geared toward high school students, this program gives you the chance to learn about health needs of different economic populations from local professionals. You also will be able to earn your Wilderness First Aid certification while volunteering on sanitation and construction projects to build stronger, healthier communities. Learn more and sign up here!
Based in Thailand, this program will let you earn Wilderness First Aid certification and practice basic medical skills in communities that you’ll visit. During your stay, you’ll learn about rural healthcare, holistic medicine, Thai massage and reflexology, and much more. Outside of volunteering and studying, you’ll visit a night market, temples, waterfalls, and much more as you travel throughout Thailand. Click here to sign up!
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.