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A local doctor working as a volunteer supervises a pre-med volunteer abroad during a routine health check.

Be a Medical Volunteer Overseas: Doctors, Nurses, Pre-Meds, and Med Students

Share your knowledge and get unforgettable insight into medical practices in low-income countries

As a physician or nurse, you’ve dedicated your life in service to others. You’ve used your skills and expertise to heal and treat patients to the best of your ability. Whether you’re in a chaotic trauma unit, or a family practice, you’re the type of person who always answers the call to help. What if you could answer that call in countries where doctors and other medical staff are in short supply, and resources are extremely limited? 

We offer a range of medical programs abroad, suitable for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals like midwives, physical therapists, and dieticians. This experience is a thrilling way for you to do something different by stepping away from your typical environment. It can also help you inject more purpose into your professional life if you’re feeling disconnected or burned out. 

Projects are short-term and long-term, the former being ideal if you’re a first-time volunteer. The experience gives you a taste of what it’s really like to work in a developing country before you commit to a placement of two months or more. We provide a safe, hassle-free experience, with everything organized for you and 24/7 support from our in-country staff

As a medical volunteer overseas with Projects Abroad, your focus will be on:

  • Treating patients in under-developed hospitals and clinics
  • Sharing knowledge and exchanging skills with local medical professionals
  • Learning first-hand about diseases and advanced conditions you wouldn’t ordinarily see in North America

Our medical programs extend to pre-med and medical students. Our medical volunteer opportunities for college students are structured and ethical, built around supervised observation and experiential education. 

We also offer summer medical programs for high school students ages 15-18, which you can read more about here. These short-term projects are a safe, guided introduction to medicine, focused on shadowing and practicing basic medical skills, like measuring blood sugar levels and talking to a doctor or nurse about what the results mean. 

Read on below for specific information on our different medical volunteer opportunities abroad.

Medical Volunteering Abroad for Doctors and Nurses

A professional physical therapist volunteering in Mongolia runs a workshop for local medical staff.

At Projects Abroad, one of the main outcomes we want to see from our volunteer opportunities for doctors and nurses is an exchange of knowledge and skills between you and local medical professionals. As much as you’re there to give back as a volunteer doctor abroad, you’re also there to learn about how different social, cultural, or religious backgrounds affect medical practices. You can expect to:

  • Recommend and teach new methods of treatment
  • Observe procedures different to what you’d use in North America
  • Learn how to be more creative in the field when you’re working with limited equipment and other resources
  • Witness and learn about the treatment of disease and conditions uncommon or eradicated in North America, like dengue fever, severe nutritional deficiencies, cholera or malaria
  • Experience cross-cultural exchange with local people and other volunteers you meet

We run community healthcare outreaches for you to go out into rural, often isolated areas, to provide the basic medical services they lack. During these outreaches, you’ll be able to work with other medical volunteers from around the world. Some of these volunteers are pre-med and med students, so you’ll be able to slip into the role of teacher as you work.

Ultimately, this experience will help you grow as a medical professional, no matter where you are in your career.   

"The biggest shock I got was delivering two sets of unexpected twins. I thought the nurse was joking when she told me I must feel the patient’s stomach after each birth to check if I could feel another baby inside. I quickly realized she wasn’t joking when I turned my back for a second, and when I turned around a second baby was already on its way into the world. I think I got more of a shock than the mother that her family had just doubled in a matter of seconds!” - Carly F, Midwifery in Tanzania

For most doctors looking into volunteering abroad, the first port of call is Doctors without Borders. However, if you’re not looking to work in an emergency setting, or you only have a short time available to travel, Projects Abroad is the perfect alternative. You can read more about the differences between us and Doctors without Borders here.

Medical Volunteering Abroad for College Students

An American intern observes surgery on our medical volunteer opportunities abroad for college students in Vietnam.

If you’re on a pre-med track, or you’re already enrolled in med school, chances are your schedule’s packed and you’re overwhelmed with classes and work during the semester. The long summer break is the perfect time to get your nose out of those textbooks, and add relevant experiential learning and global awareness to your resume. 

Our programs are built for pre-med volunteering abroad and as volunteer opportunities for medical students. They’re balanced between shadowing medical professionals and getting hands-on work done during community healthcare outreaches. You’ll also:

  • Meet and work with diverse groups of people (great for working on your bedside manner!)
  • Observe first-hand how doctors in developing countries make diagnoses and decide on a course of treatment
  • See diseases you’ve only read about in textbooks or heard about on TV, like malaria and polio
  • Witness how doctors and nurses cope with the limited resources they have

Please be aware that the scope of your work depends on your specific experience and qualifications, and what your local medical supervisor or the hospital allows. This is in line with our own policy and code of conduct about medical volunteering, which we adhere to strictly across all our healthcare programs. 

Read more about our best pre-med volunteer abroad programs, and the medical practicums we organize for medical students

“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 and 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 C, Medicine in the Philippines

How can I volunteer in the medical field?

While we do offer special medical projects for specific age groups (i.e. our High School Specials), our general medical programs abroad (Flexi Trips) are entirely flexible and can be customized according to your needs and level of experience. Some of our projects also offer entirely unique experiences. For example, Mongolia is our only destination where you can work a night shift with an ambulance team!

If you’re looking to become a medical volunteer overseas with us, we strongly recommend reaching out to our Project Experts. They’ll be able to advise you on which project:

  • Fits the length of time you’re willing to commit
  • Matches your goals and skills
  • Aligns with your area of medical expertise

Need extra help?

Our Project Experts are here to help you find the perfect project. Call us on:

(+1) 619 320 2424


to start planning your project

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