Volunteering for Medical/Healthcare Projects
Healthcare (Med School-Years 1 & 2, Pre-Med, Nursing School, other health sciences)
Healthcare placements are available for people who are not licensed and/or who are still completing their training. These volunteer projects are generally located in specialized living facilities and involve working with people who are physically or mentally disabled, assisting elderly patients, or working with HIV infected children or adults. Volunteers assist with all facets of caring for the patients, including general care and companionship, distributing/sorting medications, feeding, bathing, and ensuring patients’ overall well-being. This might include changing beds, conversation-talk therapy, workshops (e.g. exercise, dental care), and even arts and crafts.
At the end of your volunteer placement, you are provided with a certificate of service and a reference letter from Máximo Nivel.
Medical (Licensed Professionals and Med School-Years 3 & 4)
Máximo Nivel’s medical projects provide volunteers with the opportunity to work in hospitals, clinics, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities. Volunteers usually work alongside doctors, nurses, therapists, or other medical professionals, though this is not always the case.
Responsibilities and type of work depends a great deal on the placement available and what is happening at the project. Depending on your medical experience and Spanish language skills, volunteers may do things such as: shadow a doctor or nurse, assist with general check-ups, run medical campaigns, assist with triage, take blood pressure and other vital signs, organize patient records, prepare materials and equipment, and assist during mealtimes.
It is important that medical volunteers have realistic expectations with regard to the activities they will be involved in. The amount of activity at project sites depends a great deal on the field situation, and we cannot guarantee how busy placements will be, nor exactly what activities volunteers will be involved in on a day-to-day basis. Medical students should understand they will not always be providing direct patient care, as insurance regulations and laws vary in each country. The level of involvement at medical projects is most determined by:
- Level of training and demonstrated expertise
- Spanish level
- Personality—initiative and ability to connect with people at the project
- Duration of program
- All medical volunteers must bring evidence of their education and training, scrubs, and their stethoscope.
Placement in health projects requires notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials.
Here is an excerpt from a volunteer-doctor in Peru:
I found this both humbling and empowering. That they can practice the quality of medicine that they do with the financial restrictions they face is very impressive. I felt it was very clever [of them] to have me work in topical medicine as it is very visual given my limited to non-existent Spanish. To me, anyone volunteering at the clinic is afforded an extraordinary window into medicine in Peru and they can make a real difference. [Volunteers] bringing additional money can also make an extraordinary difference as the cost of an X-ray is only $6.00 and medicine is $1.00, yet a number of patients cannot afford even these small amounts, which could be life changing.