Volunteer in Health Care Abroad

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Healthcare Volunteering Abroad

International volunteer work provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others regardless of the type of work being done. However, healthcare volunteers may have the largest and most noticeable impact of all. The lack of access to quality healthcare across the world today is an enormous problem, especially in rural and economically disadvantaged communities. Through healthcare volunteering abroad, you can use your skills and knowledge, whether you are a new student or a fully licensed physician, to help bring healthcare to those who truly need it most.

Why Volunteer Abroad

Volunteer opportunities abroad in healthcare are both readily available and very much needed. In fact, international healthcare volunteers make up a sizable proportion of health care workers in many underdeveloped nations, as they rely on outside assistance to support the medical needs of their growing populations. Certain areas of Asia, Africa, and South America are in the greatest need of healthcare volunteers, since many rural areas have just a handful of local physicians available to manage populations in the thousands. In these regions, healthcare volunteers, whether students, nurses, or licensed physicians, help to fill the gaps that simply cannot be handled by local doctors, and also bring with them medical treatments and expertise not available otherwise. 

Furthermore, healthcare volunteering abroad is not only a great way to help others, but it can certainly benefit you as well. Volunteers will have a fantastic experience to add to their resume, making healthcare volunteer programs an excellent choice for students at any point in their medical education. The hands on experience gained through healthcare volunteer placements is exactly what many employers and/or academic institutions are looking for from applicants. Tack on the international aspect of volunteering abroad and you will be able to not only show that you can apply your healthcare knowledge, but also that you can do so in an unfamiliar, foreign, and challenging setting.


The majority of healthcare volunteer programs are located in areas of the world that lack well-established healthcare systems. Therefore, South America, Africa, and Asia are some of the most common regions of the world that welcome international healthcare volunteers year round. Since there are a large number of countries and communities very much in need of healthcare assistance and support, there are a wide range of possible destinations to volunteer abroad in healthcare; however, here are three of the top locations for healthcare volunteering abroad:

Malawi. This landlocked country in southeastern Africa is both very similar and very different from what many consider a “typical” African nation. Malawi is one of the most geographically beautiful areas in all of Africa, with the clear waters of Lake Malawi providing world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities. However, despite the natural wonders of the country, Malawi remains one of the least developed countries on Earth. Therefore, healthcare services are limited to say the least, and health issues, including HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and malaria, continue to be widespread. Healthcare volunteers interested in disease control or epidemic management would be well suited to volunteer in Malawi.

Vietnam. While the level of development in Vietnam is well above that of many nations in Africa, the healthcare situation is still far below international standards. A lack of modern facilities and a shortage of trained doctors means that quality healthcare services are out of reach, both physically and financially, for many Vietnamese people. The few quality hospitals that do exist are naturally overcrowded and understaffed, leaving plenty of room for volunteers to assist local physicians in a range of tasks, which may include taking patient vitals, like blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, as well as treating minor medical ailments, such as bandaging minor wounds. Healthcare volunteers should have some formal health education prior to arrival given the nature of most volunteer work in Vietnam.

Belize. Although it has the lowest population density in all of Central America, the health care system in Belize constantly struggles to accommodate citizens and provide affordable and adequate medical care. Public hospitals and clinics are underfunded and understaffed, while the medical care at private establishments, though better, is well outside the price range of most Belizeans. Malaria, respiratory, and intestinal issues are widespread, as is cardiorespiratory disease and other forms of non-communicable illness. Those interested in public health or learning more about healthcare systems in the developing world are a perfect fit for healthcare volunteering in Belize. One of the biggest advantages of volunteering in Belize is there is no language barrier for English speakers, as it happens to be the nation’s official language.

Healthcare Volunteering Abroad

Given the very broad but skilled nature of the healthcare industry, volunteers will likely only be asked to perform tasks consistent with their existing skill set and level of education. Volunteers with little or no formal education will likely assist with basic health care tasks, such as clerical work, while those with at least some education can move into tasks that involve direct patient contact, like taking vital signs and managing patient intake. In general, nursing, health science, and medical students, and especially licensed healthcare professionals, will be equipped for most types of healthcare volunteer abroad, but that is not to say there aren’t healthcare volunteer placements available for just about anyone willing to give their time somewhere in the world. 

Healthcare volunteer placements will vary widely based on location and the specific health issues facing the local population. Many of the communities in greatest need of healthcare volunteers are rural, as these tend to be the areas that have the least access to healthcare services. However, some volunteer organizations place volunteers in larger cities as well, depending on the type of medical facilities available and the type of healthcare support that is needed most. Healthcare volunteers should generally be prepared to live without reliable internet and running water, and possibly even deal with occasional periods of no electricity. Volunteers should also prepare to work with limited medical supplies, somewhat outdated technology, and basic facilities.

Healthcare volunteering can last anywhere from a couple weeks to several months; therefore, short breaks from school are not out of the question in many cases, and neither are several month-long stays. Whatever your schedule and budget allows for, most organizations will be willing and able to accommodate.


Healthcare volunteer programs allow volunteers to make a direct impact on some of the most pressing medical issues in our world today. Not only will volunteers get to make a difference in the lives of others, but they will also be presented with a fascinating and priceless learning opportunity themselves. Seeing the impact of health issues up close will put their perspective far ahead of any peers who may be simply trying to learn about the field from a book.

Both the academic and professional benefits of healthcare volunteering abroad can be enormous, leading to a lifetime of opportunities to continue to make a difference in healthcare around the world. 

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Healthcare Volunteering Abroad


1192 Health Care Volunteer Abroad Programs


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Naturally Africa Volunteers Lake Malawi Medical Volunteer Project is a sustainable project with a focus on practical education. The project provides a valuable insight for volunteers into medical systems and issues in a developing country. The project has three key areas: HIV support groups, home-based care training and practical wound care. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to work in a...


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Shadow doctors 20+ hours a week in Spain through the Atlantis Fellowship. 1-8 week Fellowships during winter, spring, or summer breaks.


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Thousands of volunteers from all over the world have trusted Love Volunteers to provide meaningful volunteering abroad placements in communities where their help is really needed. Join us on one of our safe, responsible and affordable Health Care programs for a truly memorable experience! Check out our exciting programs and become a Love Volunteer!


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Volunteer at a local hospital in Northern Cambodia. The hospital is understaffed and in need of much assistance. The main goals of the hospital are to provide affordable health care to the people living around the hospital. Since the hospital only has 15 doctors, 36 nurses, and 2 midwives many of the patients never receive medical treatment and must leave without being seen. The project hopes...


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Volunteer on a program in a colourful township just outside Cape Town, educating child-minders, parents and children on the importance of eating well and general hygiene practices to prevent the spreading of germs. These fun and interactive workshops are set up in an informal environment. The workshops also include lectures on the identification of symptoms for general childhood diseases such a...


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Interning abroad in Medicine & Healthcare in Tanzania is an excellent way to gain experience combined with the chance to help people in some of the most under-resourced medical institutions in the developing world. Projects Abroad works with both small health clinics and large government hospitals in Tanzania, allowing interns the unique opportunity to experience a variety of different depar...


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The country's ancient medinas, quaint coastal towns, and vibrant spice markets remind you at every turn that you've left the familiar behind. For many globetrotting volunteers, Morocco provides an eye-opening first-hand look into Islam and all of its beautiful and historied layers. With Cross-Cultural Solutions, you can travel to Morocco to experience a remarkable part of the world. As you e...


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Volunteer in Cape Town and join this meaningful project where you will provide a safe and nurturing environment for children, and empower children and youth through education and life skills. Physical activity drastically decreased amongst children after Physical Education was removed from the school curriculum in South Africa. As a fundamental part of youth development sport and physical ...


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Maximo Nivel is a locally based organization in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Volunteer abroad—get involved, make an impact, and learn to serve by working at local projects: - Working with Kids - Teaching English - Conservation - Construction - Animal Care - Eco-Agriculture - Medical & Healthcare Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has been a leader in educational travel and stu...


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Work as a Connect-123 volunteer in one of the many non-profits, clinics, hospitals and schools we work with in Dublin. There are a range of different areas to choose from where you can apply your specific set of skills to projects that are important to you. Areas of opportunity include education, conservation, health care, microfinance and community development and many more. Tell us your main ...


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CrossContinental offers affordable medical internship and volunteer programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Gain hands-on experience, improve your resume, enhance cultural understanding, and build global network. Work alongside doctors and nurses. Stay with a host family for culture and language immersion. Affordable program fees start from only USD180 (accommodation & meals included)


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Adelante Abroad offers low cost volunteer programs in a wide variety of fields and causes (listed below) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Volunteers can work for up to 12 months and programs are offered year round. Programs are customizable; you'll be paired with organizations in need of specific skills while allowing you to reach your academic and career goals. Oaxaca is one of the most biodiverse ar...


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Like any third world country, the Philippines suffers from diseases due to poor hygiene and sanitation brought about by poor awareness programs. This is one of the major issues the country needs to face, and come up with solutions to. A lot of people in rural areas cannot afford to pay for medicines and regular medical check-ups. Volunteer for the Visayans is reaching out to those in need of...


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The clinical placements are ideal for pharmacy and medical students, public health students, and advanced premedical students. Special clinical positions are also offered to medical professionals who are willing to donate their energy and time to programs that benefit poorer populations. Physical Therapy and Public Health in Dalat and Ho Chi Minh * ELIers can work in an orphanage for disabl...