Physical Therapist Volunteer Work in Bolivia
- POSITION: Physiotherapist
- PLACEMENT LOCATION: Cochabamba
- REQUIREMENTS: Degree in Physical Therapy; intermediate level of Spanish
- ACCOMMODATION: Host family
- LENGTH OF PLACEMENT: From 2 weeks
- START DATES: Flexible
This professional physical therapy volunteer project provides treatment for patients in and around the city of Cochabamba. The main focus of the project is a burns unit that treats children under the age of 16. The project is perfect for anyone qualified considering voluntary work abroad or physical therapists on a career break.
Roughly 70% of Bolivia’s population live below the poverty line and struggle for access to medical care. We work with the Hospital Viedma which provides treatment to anyone who needs it, regardless of social status. The burns unit plays a vital role but lacks resources and can use help from qualified physical therapists.
Here you will find answers to the following questions:
How can volunteer physical therapists help in Bolivia?
As a volunteer physical therapist you can use your knowledge and training to help local staff. You can work on tasks such as:
- Providing treatment for patients requiring physiotherapy, including:
- Working with patients to identify the physical problem.
- Assisting patients with joint and spinal problems.
- Helping patients' rehabilitation following accidents, injury and strokes.
- Educating and advising patients and their caregivers about how to prevent and/or improve their condition.
- Producing a treatment plan when caring for children to teach the parents how to carry out exercises.
- Holding workshops for local physical therapists on subjects such as introducing new techniques for specific burns treatments.
- Organizing and running training clinics for Projects Abroad volunteers working with other centers (optional).
The Hospital Viedma has modern facilities such as a new women and children’s section. However, the burns unit is quite run down and the funding provided is very low.
The Burns Unit is located in the Pediatrics department. It has 4 bedrooms, one of which is converted into an ICU if needed (each bedroom has between 2-5 beds). It also has bathrooms for staff and patients, a surgery and cleaning room, a dressing and preparation area, and a basic physiotherapy room.
You will be expected to work from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. You will also get the chance to take part in physiotherapy workshops run by Projects Abroad.
While this project focuses on the burns unit, we do work with other medical institutions. If you have a particular area of interest or expertise then please let us know.
This project runs all year round so you can join at any time. You decide how much time you can spare and we will help you get the most out of it.
What will I gain from this project?
You will gain experience of working in a foreign environment with a lack of resources. You will be dealing with fairly traumatic cases and this will improve your ability to work under pressure. You will also get the chance to work alongside Bolivian professionals and share ideas about the way they treat patients.
You will learn about Bolivian culture and way of life through speaking to your new colleagues. Staff and patients will want to hear about your life back home and your family and friends. We call this "cultural exchange" and we think it helps our volunteers gain a new perspective on life.
What will be provided?
We have over 20 years’ experience of running volunteer projects. We provide you with the following support to make sure your time in Bolivia is successful and enjoyable:
- Safe accommodation with a Bolivian family close to your project.
- Friendly and dedicated local staff available to help 24 hours a day.
- A member of staff to meet you at the airport when you arrive.
- Medical and travel insurance.
What skills or qualifications do I need?
If you have completed at least a degree in Physical Therapy then you are perfectly suited to this project.
Please contact us if you think your knowledge may be useful on this project but do not have the required qualifications.
Volunteers must speak an intermediate level of Spanish to participate on this project, as the staff at the placement do not speak English.