Updated for 2023 – now includes public health internships!
If you’re interested in a career in public health, pursuing a degree in a related field, or already employed in the public health sector, then you have an idea of how critical its initiatives are.
Public health personnel, and the interns and volunteers who help them, improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. In the United States alone, the average citizen’s lifespan has been extended by 30 years! But it’s not just the United States that’s enjoying better health and longevity: great progress has been made in to prevent death, and raise life expectancy through improving the living conditions of people everywhere.
During the 20th century, public health professionals achieved many accomplishments:
- Eradicated smallpox and developed vaccines for many other diseases
- Reduced child mortality
- Decreased the instances of HIV/AIDS and founded a coalition in Africa
- Improved access to safe water and sanitation
- Increase awareness for road safety and tobacco control
- Improved preparedness and response to global threats
- Established nuclear test bans
We don’t know how much we would have accomplished without volunteers to support these initiatives, but we know there’s much more work needed. Without volunteers, public health professionals couldn’t complete their mission.
Volunteers and interns for public health programs don’t always need experience to be useful. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health-related professionals provide critical services, but the average volunteer or intern can lend support in the areas of educating the public about health and safety issues, performing administrative work at clinics and health hotlines, delivering meals to the homebound and elderly, caring for children while parents seek help, and even cleaning and repairing structures. From the important to the menial, all tasks matter and help to build a healthier, happier world community.
There’s also the fact that working in public health can improve your social skills and leadership abilities while building your resume through job-related experience. This is important because healthcare, healthcare support, and personal care fields are among the fastest growing sectors with a projected growth of 15.6 million new jobs by 2022! Take a look at the outstanding opportunities below to allow you to live abroad while gaining in-depth experience, or sharing your own expertise, in public health.
Featured Internships And Volunteer Abroad Projects
Maximo Nivel offers study abroad, intern abroad, volunteer abroad, and many other travel opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Founded in 2003, this family-owned and locally-operated organization places more than 4,000 people each year on educational and meaningful programs. Maximo Nivel provides high-quality, safe, and affordable experiences for students, volunteers, and travelers, whether they are solo adventurers, high school or university students, young adult groups, retirees, and even families.
Medical Internship in Latin America
Work with medical professionals in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, where you can put your skills to good use in a clinic or hospital, providing care for patients in need. If you’re a pre-med student or in nursing school, sign up for a healthcare internship or short-term program with Maximo Nivel and get a hands-on education working in the developing world. Based upon your experience, education, and Spanish language ability, tasks could include patient consultations, check-ups, making rounds with doctors, triage, elderly care, health education, administration assistance, and updating patient records.
Work in clinics, hospitals, assisted-living facilities, and private practices, and learn valuable skills in diagnosis, intervention, and evaluation of diseases and injuries. You must be at least 18 years old, and be a pre-med, medical, or nursing program student. Licensed medical professionals also are welcome with proof of medical education, training, certifications, and licenses. A final project required for internships. Intermediate knowledge of Spanish is required, so if you need assistance with your Spanish language skills, Maximo Nivel offers online Spanish classes and a Native Spanish Program.
Healthcare and Medical Volunteering
If you have an interest in health care, you can put your enthusiasm and your skills to good use in a clinic or hospital in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru on a healthcare volunteer programwith Maximo Nivel. Participate in public health campaigns and vaccination programs, and learn how the healthcare systems work in Latin American countries. You’ll assist with general care and companionship, distribute medications, help to feed and bathe patients, change beds, hold conversations as part of talk therapy, and take part in therapeutic arts and crafts.
If you’re a student in your third or fourth year of medical school or a licensed medical professional, and you’re not looking for an internship, you can use this opportunity to volunteer alongside doctors and nurses. These tasks may include assisting with check-ups, helping with triage, taking a patient’s vital signs, organizing records, and more. Responsibility varies with your Spanish language ability, your previous healthcare experience, and your qualifications. Learn more here!
Projects Abroad offers public health internships abroad that provide participants with the opportunity to gain clinical experience to support their education and career while also giving back to developing communities. These internships provide hands-on experience working in clinics, community centers, and schools while learning essential medical skills and conducting basic health checks. Additionally, interns raise awareness of disease and other health issues through educational campaigns. These internships are safe, supportive, and ethical and are supervised by healthcare professionals. The work that the interns do also has long-term benefits for the people they treat. These internships are a great fit for students, graduates, and professionals and are a great way to explore the field of public health, gain hands-on clinical experience, conduct clinical research abroad, or broaden one’s experience as a Public Health professional. The staff is available 24/7 to provide support and guidance during the internship
Public Health Internship in Cambodia
This Public Health Internship in Cambodia is an opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing a career in healthcare or studying medicine. The internship provides hands-on experience conducting basic health checks and working with medical professionals, as well as the opportunity to learn about healthcare, nutrition, and hygiene for children in care centers and schools. Participants will be based in Phnom Penh and will have the chance to explore the city in their free time. The internship is run all year round, with a minimum requirement of one week, but participants are encouraged to stay longer. Additionally, this placement can help to demonstrate your commitment to helping others and add practical work experience to your CV. In partnership with local NGOs and disadvantaged communities, this internship is an opportunity to make a difference and gain valuable experience in the field of public health.
Public Health Internship in the Philippines
This Public Health Internship in the Philippines is a great opportunity for anyone interested in pursuing a career in healthcare to gain hands-on experience in the field. Participants will work alongside medical professionals to conduct basic health checks, support staff across multiple departments, and experience medical work in various settings. The internship is located in the Cebu province and in a rural health unit, providing an opportunity to work in a non-hospital environment. No prior experience is necessary as you’ll be taught everything you need to know. The internship is flexible and runs year-round, with a minimum requirement of one week. Join our team and help raise awareness about healthcare, nutrition and hygiene, shadow medical staff across different departments, assist in record and data analysis, and more.
African Impact is a responsible, sustainable volunteer travel organization that has won multiple industry awards, including being voted the world’s Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers on GoAbroad four years in a row. Since 2004, they have hosted over 35,000 participants on 20 projects across 7 countries. The organization believes in the spirit of Africa and that the volunteer experience is just as important as the impact made. 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.
African Impact manages its own projects and is able to provide tangible, real achievements on a regular basis. The organization has a clear Child Protection Policy and ensures that volunteers complete a criminal record check prior to involvement. Experienced staff is on the ground to support volunteers day-in-day-out and the organization does not use volunteer support in replacement for a local person.
In addition to making a positive impact, African Impact also believes that volunteering abroad should be enjoyable. The organization offers a range of activities for volunteers, including teaching children in South Africa, assisting with wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe, working in hospitals or clinics in Kenya, and carrying out dolphin and marine research in Zanzibar.
Note: African Impact places each volunteer in a healthcare setting that perfectly suits their education, previous experience, interests, and the local community’s needs. They’ve welcomed everyone from nursing students, recently graduated doctors to experienced healthcare professionals.
Public Health Internship, Zambia
Spend four weeks in Livingstone on an impactful public health Internship, designed to improve access to, and quality of, healthcare in Zambia. You’ll gain practical work experience as you assist in innovative public healthcare practices and research in low-income areas. Engage with healthcare workers, professionals, and NGOs in varied settings to acquire an in-depth view of current health challenges and address issues including mental health, general nutrition, physical health, and other topics tailored according to age, gender, and income bracket. Program fees start at $2,345. Read more here.
Healthcare Internship in Cape Town
Work alongside qualified healthcare and other medical professionals at Victoria Hospital, a public medical facility in Cape Town. You’ll gain first-hand experience and knowledge about South Africa’s public healthcare system on this healthcare internship, while jumpstarting your career in nursing, medicine, global health or hospital administration. Stay eight weeks or longer with program costs at $3,985. Learn more and apply here!
Rural Healthcare and HIV Awareness in South Africa
By participating in the Rural Healthcare and HIV Awareness program in South Africa, you will have the opportunity to assist in rural clinics and gain insights into local healthcare services, as well as be a part of a unique and intimate experience of home-based care by assisting local caregivers. You will also have the chance to facilitate health-promoting workshops and support groups to educate and enrich the community, and help raise awareness about common illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, and how to prevent them. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local Zulu culture, learn about traditional customs, and enjoy a Zulu language lesson. In your free time, you can go on safari and see a variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and rhinos, or enjoy the beautiful beaches and sunsets in St. Lucia. Accommodation is provided in a large, comfortable volunteer house in a safe residential area of St. Lucia, which is equipped with a lounge, barbecue area, tropical garden, and swimming pool. Meals are included and communication is facilitated through a local staff member who speaks English. The climate in St. Lucia is generally warm and sunny. The project aims to make an impact in the areas of healthcare and public health in South Africa. Learn more and apply here!
International Volunteer HQ & Intern Abroad HQ
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers volunteer programs, internships, TEFL certifications, and adventure travel. It works with community organizations and NGOs in more than 40 countries, providing 200 affordable and safe projects worldwide. Founded in 2007, IVHQ is a trusted volunteer organization that has placed nearly 100,000 volunteers abroad.
IVHQ also encourages professional development through its sister company, Intern Abroad HQ. With extremely affordable international internships, Intern Abroad HQ offers a growing portfolio of placements throughout Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Internships include a resume-boosting reflection program to build skills that are universally transferable across employment settings. Expand your horizons and start on your career path through global networking and cultural exchange!
Public Health and Medical Volunteering Abroad
If you’re interested in a short-term volunteer project that enhances your perspective on global healthcare, while giving you hands-on experience in medical care, hygiene campaigns, and healthcare education, take a look at IVHQ’s programs for pre-med and nursing students, as well as professionals. Choose an area of specialty from physiotherapy, pharmacy, dentistry, paramedics, clinical laboratory science, emergency medicine (EMTs), speech therapy, optometry, nutrition, public health, orthopedics, radiology, HIV/AIDS support, midwifery, and pediatrics.
Based on your experience and qualifications, you can volunteer at clinics, hospitals, or assisted living homes. IVHQ can place you on healthcare/medical programs for one week or more at the following locations:
- Argentina – Buenos Aires – Healthcare
- Argentina – Cordoba – Healthcare
- Cambodia – Medical
- Costa Rica – Healthcare
- Ghana – Medical
- Guatemala – Medical
- India – Delhi – Health
- India – Kerala – Medical, Dentistry
- Nepal – Medical Elective
- Peru – Cusco – Medical
- Peru – Lima – Medical
- Sri Lanka – Medical
- Tanzania – Medical
- Uganda – Medical, HIV/AIDS Support
- Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh – Medical
- Zambia – Medical
It’s easy to get started with IVHQ, with programs lasting from one week to six months. No experience is needed. Simply select a destination and project, and sign up here!
Medical Internships Abroad
If you’re a university student considering a medical or healthcare internship abroad, Intern Abroad HQ has many opportunities for you to gain professional experience abroad as a dentist, doctor, nurse, midwife, physiotherapist, or social worker. These exciting internships aren’t only a milestone in your career path, but they also enable you to give back and deepen your compassion as a healthcare worker. Consider a placement that will boost your resume while you improve access to public healthcare and wellbeing around the world. Intern Abroad HQ can place you on a healthcare/medical internships at the following locations:
- Costa Rica – Health & Medical
- Guatemala – Physiotherapy, Health & Medical
- Peru – Physician’s Assistant, Midwifery, Dentistry, Physiotherapy
- South Africa – Public Health, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology
- Spain – Healthcare
- Greece – Medical and Health
- Tanzania – Medical, Nursing, Midwifery, Radiology, Physiotherapy, Dentistry
- Zanzibar – Psychology internships in Zanzibar
Internships are available year-round with minimum stays of two weeks. You must be proficient in the English language, and be at least 18 years old and a high school graduate. Learn more and apply here.
Plan My Gap Year
Founded in 2011 by volunteers, for volunteers, Plan My Gap Year empowers people who enjoy travel to have a positive impact in communities around the world. Plan My Gap Year sends more than 4,000 travelers overseas each year on life-changing adventures with long-term, sustainable goals throughout Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. A responsible organization, Plan My Gap Year receives great reviews from past volunteers for its affordability and transparent fees, as well as its safety and support.
Medical Volunteering in Ghana
Gain firsthand experience and insight into the Ghanaian health care system as a medical volunteer with Plan My Gap Year. Learn how to care for patients suffering from illnesses related to poor sanitation, tropical diseases like Malaria, and how Ghanaians are struggling to overcome the threat of HIV/AIDS. You’ll stay in an urban neighborhood of Kumasi, and have the chance to visit Cape Coast, Elmina, and Mole National Park. Program duration is two weeks to six months, and fees begin at $465. Click here to sign up!
Nursing and Medical Volunteering in India
Plan My Gap Year invites you to India, where you can assist with nursing and with medical care in one of the most needful communities – clinics in a slum area of Faridabad – on the outskirts of Delhi. Shadow doctors and other health professionals and gain exposure in a variety of fields, including accident and emergency, dentistry, surgery, maternity and midwifery, nursing, gynecology, pediatrics, and physiotherapy. Stay two weeks or longer with low fees starting at only $330. Read more here!
Love Volunteers is a trusted travel organization, highly rated by its former volunteers. Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers has placed more than 20,000 travelers on projects worldwide. Transparent, low-cost fees are a mainstay with Love Volunteers, with programs starting at only $250. Love Volunteers works in 43 countries worldwide, with more than 200 different projects to choose from. Programs are audited for safety, social responsibility, and impact, and nearly 90% of the fees collected benefit the local charities and organizations hosting the volunteers.
Public Health Program in Kathmandu, Nepal
Stay four weeks on a fantastic public health program in Nepal, helping this developing nation overcome its challenges with poverty and health issues. This placement focuses on alleviating the suffering of people with medical problems in Kavresthali, in the Shivapuri National Park. You’ll work at a health post and through a mobile clinic to deliver quality health care to those in need. Stay with a host family for one month with fees starting at $869. Read more here and apply!
HIV/AIDS Volunteering in Kenya
Public health and medical volunteers are needed to help deliver essential services and to support those suffering from or impacted by HIV/AIDS in Kenya. You’ll visit the slums of Nairobi to assist with delivering food, medicine, as well as providing basic medical care. Volunteers help reduce the spread of HIV by raising awareness and promoting access to medical care. With your help, suffering people will receive quality care, compassion, and a sense of hope. Duration is four weeks with program fees starting at $1009. Learn more sign up here!
Agape Volunteers specializes in affordable volunteer programs that focus on community development, teaching, healthcare, conservation, and adventure travel throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa. This organization supports a variety of initiatives enabling volunteers to travel for meaningful, low-cost programs ranging from medical volunteering, teaching at public schools, coaching in sports and music, HIV prevention and outreach, and working with wildlife and conservation. The Agape Travel Policy is provided at no extra cost, making this a wonderful option for travelers on a budget.
Kenya Medical Program
Develop your medical training while helping to improve lives, with healthcare teams in the clinics and hospitals of Kenya. You’ll need at least one year of medical school, or be a qualified nurse or doctor, to join Agape Volunteers on the Kenya medical program. Depending upon your experience level, you’ll shadow professionals during your first few days, then perform basic procedures under supervision, including distributing medicines, dressing wounds, and assisting with births. Program fees start at £590 for one week. Click here to learn more!
Ghana Medical Program
If you have a passion for healthcare, check out this opportunity with Agape Volunteers that places you in a local clinic or hospital. If you have completed at least one year of medical school, or if you have experience as a nurse or doctor, apply for the Ghana medical program with Agape Volunteers. Shadow medical professionals as they begin their rounds, and possibly help with more challenging procedures, depending upon your experience. Program costs start at £510 for one week. Read more and apply!
The Intern Group
The Intern Group offers customized international internships worldwide, inviting participants to explore exciting places and develop new networks as they build their career. Founded in 2011, the Intern Group places more than 2,000 travelers abroad annually with programs in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Programs enable young people to gain valuable professional experience at leading companies and organizations while developing a culturally-sensitive new generation. The Intern Group also provides access to development workshops and tools, professional career training, social and cultural events, quality housing, and 24/7 support.
Public Health Internship in Colombia
Travel to Colombia on a medical or public health internship and garner valuable knowledge and experience in global healthcare. If you have a basic understanding of Spanish and have completed two years of medical school, you’ll be able to interact with patients and learn more about healthcare treatments in the areas of accident and emergency, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, clinical medicine, and psychiatry. Improve your Spanish-speaking skills before starting your internship with a two-week language-immersion course. Fees begin at $2,490 for two weeks, with longer stays available. Learn more and apply here!
Medical Research Internship in London
Join the Intern Group on a medical internship in London, conducting research to improve treatment of specific illnesses such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, drug addiction, and sight loss. Work with NGOs and hospitals that provide unique opportunities for students and professionals interested in working alongside experts to learn about. You’re invited to stay six weeks or longer and program fees begin at $4,841. Read more and apply today!
Your Future In Healthcare
It’s a fact that the healthcare field is growing, and that volunteering abroad in this sector can help you develop a career. Thanks to improved diagnosing and treatment options, people are living longer, but how is their overall health faring during their lifetime? Can it be improved also? If you’re ready to become a part of this fascinating field, choose a trusted internship and begin your journey today!
Robin Van Auken · Writer
Robin is a researcher, writer, and a registered professional archaeologist, a skillset she uses every day as a cultural communication specialist with Hands-on Heritage. Her projects connect communities with an emphasis on interpretation and education and conserve cultural and environmental legacies.