Hours per week
2 weeks minimum
Santa Barbara de Samaná
MEDICINE & HEALTHCARE - Medical observation and experience opportunity
Volunteer Placement & Internship
Gain invaluable hands-on experience, working side by side with medical staff and fellow volunteers at a hospital or a neighborhood health clinic. This opportunity will give you an insight into the running and daily routine of a hospital or a neighborhood health clinic. You will experience the stark contrast between Western medical practice and the realities of medicine in developing countries. As the hospitals and clinics are still modernizing there are many challenges faced and as a result you will also see medical conditions that have remained untreated and have developed to an advanced pathological stage. Therefore this project not only provides you with responsibility, it also allows you to broaden your perspective by working at a hospital/health clinic in a developing country.
Furthermore, you can gain experience in a range of different departments and activities within the hospital/health clinic, such as: emergency, pediatric, maternity (only female volunteers), diabetes, integral attention & prevention for HIV, tuberculosis and uterine cancer as well as nursing, hospital administration and management assisting with accountancy and helping with statistics. There is also the possibility to work in the hospital pharmacy. You are welcome to also work on our other projects such as the English and computer literacy classes for locals.
Your level of possible involvement will largely depend on your Spanish language skills and experiences in the field, as well as your motivation and willingness to get involved. It will also depend on the current needs and tasks at the hospital as we really want to help out wherever our help is needed most. Your work schedule will be created in a meeting with the departmental director and the volunteer coordinator and supervisor. In this process we always try to match your interests and skills with the current situation at the hospital. In order to gain the most out of your experience, and especially if you have a specific health care goal, please contact us in advance to discuss your options in detail. Pleaser keep in mind that hospitalized patient care in the Dominican Republic is much less extensive compared with nursery practices in the western world! It is common to see that family members are taking care of their patient at the hospital.
What to expect: Working hours will be primarily in the morning when the physicians are at the hospital/health clinic. As with any medical service, volunteers should recognize that their schedules may be subject to sudden changes and are dictated by patients’ needs. You are encouraged to also take part in weekend shifts and watches with doctors and nurses as this gives you excellent exposure to work observation and experience opportunities!
Activities can include but are not limited to:
- Observing, shadowing and assisting doctors and nurses during their work
- Participating in patient care: comfort patients and assist in examining patients
- Providing ambulance support when needed
- Assisting, teaching and encouraging prevention, hygiene, and checkups
- Assisting in developing educational materials and engagement strategies for various prevention programs using multimedia means
- Helping regularly with hospital administration tasks and help improve procedures and workflow
- Assisting occasionally with domiciliary health services, assistance, hygiene and information
- Some volunteers may also choose to teach English to the doctors, provided that there is a sufficient number of doctors interested
- Several times a year there are foreign medical missions visiting and working at the hospital. You may accompany them and if you wish translate for them and the patients
There may also be varying current projects, which volunteers may wish to join. Past projects were a Zika information and prevention program and the education of mothers-to-be on the importance of considering breastfeeding as part of an ongoing UNICEF project.
Please note that due to worldwide regulations only trained medical staff can be allowed to directly treat patients. Volunteers/interns without medical training can assist and shadow the medical staff and work in healthcare.
Your Profile: This program is suitable for a wide range of students and professionals. It is also available to pre-university students interested in a career in medicine. The key requirements for a medical volunteer or intern are initiative, enthusiasm, and readiness to work in unfamiliar circumstances. More specialized skills will allow for more specialized activities. Basic Spanish skills are needed, but an advanced level of Spanish experience will open up more opportunities. To enhance your experience as a volunteer/intern we offer up to six free Spanish language lessons every week.
Volunteer Placement and/or Internship
You can join this program as a volunteer or as an intern. Please inform us of your school or university’s internship requirements in advance so that we can work out your personalized work plan together. Also tell us about your personal expectations and goals and we will see how we can help you achieve them.
A minimum stay of 2 weeks is required.
Hospitals and neighborhood health clinics in Samaná, La Pasquala and Las Terrenas
Costs & Benefits
Aldeas de Paz works hard to keep the required financial contribution to an absolute minimum and to offer financial transparency by practicing an open book policy. The calculation of your financial contribution or donation is set up so that the longer you stay the less you give per week. We do this to encourage longer stays, recognizing that longer stays lead to more significant volunteer work and more energy contributed in the form of donated time in place of money! The minimum contribution starts at €155 per week and includes Spanish language classes, double room at one of our fully equipped guesthouse apartments, a special program donation as well as a personal welcome service and pick-up at the airport, transfer to the bus, bus fare and free transfer to your placement location in Las Terrenas or Samana. If you wish a single room upgrade add €35 per week and an all in Host Family home stay upgrade is €125 per week, including a private bedroom and two meals per day. For an independent Bungalow within an gated residence add €65 per week (only available in Las Terrenas)
Spanish language classes - volunteers or interns receive up to six free language lessons every week. The classes focus on developing communication skills so that students are able to put their knowledge to practical use as soon as they step outside the classroom. Our teaching method enables students to develop four basic skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. The idea is to learn Spanish in a natural and spontaneous way, just as students have learned their mother tongue. Our students speak Spanish right from the very first day, using it in typical real-life situations: the basic syllabus is supplemented by special exercises, such as role-play, situational dialogues and work projects. Outside the classroom, the learning process continues as you immerse in the Spanish language and the Dominican culture.
Suggestions on what to bring and donate:
Please bring scrubs and shoes that are closed and easy to clean for working in the hospital as they are mandatory.
Stethoscopes, otoscopes, latex gloves, hand sanitizer and face masks (N95 for the tuberculosis patients) would be a very helpful donation to the hospital.
Guidelines on Medical Issues of the Dominican Republic:
- WHO report on health care reform in the Dominican Republic, 2010
- Health System of the Dominican Republic, 2011. The website provides an excellent overview of common medical issues in the DR and the government health system. Only available in Spanish.
Contact Person: Manfred Mönnighoff; Project/charity name: Fundación Aldeas de Paz;
Address: Samana, Dominican Republic, Tel: +1 829 7055 123;
HIGHLIGHTS: There are unlimited activities and sights to visit in your spare time. Visit the north coast for some of the best windsurfing or kiteboarding found in the world, go whale watching, try fun hiking, biking or even white-water rafting for those adrenaline seekers! You may also like to visit Caribbean's highest peak, Pico Duarte, or the Playa Rincon, said to be one of the best beaches in the world. Hunt around the quaint town of Monte Cristo for some great finds including bargain priced jewelry made from handcrafted beads, and try some of the local rum in one of the colorful bars!