Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs for Doctors, Nurses, and Pre-Med Students
Summary: Are you a doctor, dentist, nurse, veterinarian, physical therapist, or other healthcare provider with an interest in serving a community in a way that most people can’t?
Are you a pre-health student (pre-med, pre-dental, pre veterinarian) or aspiring medical professional looking to enhance your skill set and/or gain experience in another community across the globe through a healthcare volunteer abroad trip?
Are you willing to take part in the effort to bring first-rate healthcare to people who usually don’t have the regular opportunity to see a doctor or other healthcare provider?
Details: 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.
When most people think about volunteering, they think about going to a foreign country and doing something they’ve never done before, like teaching English or helping expand school buildings. However, the need for medical volunteers exists almost everywhere around the globe. You have probably heard about long-term medical volunteer abroad projects such as Doctors Without Borders. However, there are also plenty of volunteer programs targeted towards medical professionals and students looking to serve in short-term projects ranging from just a few weeks to a few months.
Although many countries have adequate health care for most of their populations, this access doesn’t always extend to the marginalized groups or other under-served populations. Of course, while these may be incredible projects that are of great use to a community, some volunteers don’t always consider that they may be able to play a different role as a specialized volunteer, like a medical or healthcare volunteer.
Many volunteers don’t realize that they may be able to use their specialized skills and that these skills could give them the ability to serve an at-need community in a way that most volunteers could not. Medical volunteer abroad trips and medical internships can be extremely rewarding and are a great chance for people with specialized skills to participate in a volunteer project that, because of the nature of their projects, can only accept people with very specific qualifications or interests.
To participate in a medical volunteer abroad program, you don’t necessarily have to have a medical degree, as requirements vary by program. There are even pre-med volunteer abroad programs specifically for undergraduates and graduate medical student volunteers. Just keep in mind that there are guidelines (like these from the Association of American Medical Colleges) that pre-med students should abide by when being a health volunteer overseas in a medical placement, such as primarily serving in an observational role and prioritizing the welfare of the patient over your desire for hands-on clinical experience.
These programs include:
- Tanzania Medical Volunteers: 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.
- Bali Medical Volunteering: 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.
- India Medical Volunteers: 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.
- Ghana Medical Volunteering: 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.
- Sri Lanka Medical Experience: 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.