Healthcare Project

volunteer in healthcare project in guatemala
  • Share your passion in medical care and help communities lead healthier lives
  • Gain invaluable experience in healthcare in a third world setting
  • Immerse in the local Guatemalan culture through carefully-screened homestays
  • Practice Spanish while connecting with the ancient Mayan history and exploring the natural landscapes in Guatemala in your downtime

Healthcare professionals and students, listen up! Guatemalans face a shortage of medical supplies and trained professionals in their battle against various treatable diseases. Due to deprivation and neglect, the majority of the population still lack access to basic healthcare and many find the treatments much too expensive. New Hope partners up with hospitals in rural areas which are trying their best to make healthcare accessible. Volunteers will provide support to doctors, nurses, therapists and other medical professionals, who could always use the assistance to be able to treat as many patients possible. Volunteer in Guatemala in the Healthcare project and help the lives of those living in poverty while exploring the country steeped in fascinating Mayan history and gorgeous natural landscapes.

Volunteer's Responsibilities

As a volunteer in Guatemala, your insight and medical expertise will be strongly valued in the under-developed healthcare industry of Guatemala. The project is perfect for both healthcare students and professionals. During the project, you will assist NGOs, hospitals and clinics with routine daily activities: administering medication, tracking patients' medical histories or healthcare campaigns. The healthcare industry in modern-day Guatemala is less than developed, often offering substandard facilities to its ailing citizens. Depending on each individual’s level of Spanish fluency and expertise, and also the needs of the local staff, the various projects volunteers can choose to work include:

  • Assist with general check-ups and examinations of patients
  • Observing and supporting healthcare professionals by shadowing doctors
  • Public outreach and education
  • Supporting healthcare professionals (as dictated by individual experience/qualifications)
  • Organizing and developing educational seminars
  • Educating the general population on topics related to healthcare
  • Assisting pre-established healthcare programs (health clinics, non-profits, NGOs)

Medical volunteers will shadow local doctors and learn mostly from observation. Due to the increased risks involved and raised medical regulations, volunteers cannot treat patients or become involved in surgery during the project.

How You Can Make a Difference

In Guatemala, healthcare facility and staffing conditions in rural areas contrast sharply to those in urban settings. While large cities boast of state-of-the-art facilities for healthcare, rural areas often have health service programs that are noticeably overwhelmed and stretched beyond comfortable limits. Your support to the hospital would only mean that more patients can receive treatment. Undoubtedly challenging, but this project is one of the most eye-opening experiences you’ll ever have in your life. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to gain insight and knowledge on the healthcare industry in a rural hospital. At the same time, you’ll be able to have an enriching experience as you share your medical expertise and spread a proactive attitude.

Skills and Qualifications

Volunteers must be at least 18, and have health insurance, as well as accident and liability. This project is available all year round. Intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred. If you cannot speak the language, we suggest that you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding, both for you and the people you help. You can take our Spanish classes while volunteering as well.

Applicants interested to join this program must possess healthcare certification, such as: ID as a medical student, EMT, paramedic certification, nursing, physical therapy, midwifery or physician’s credentials. We do not permit volunteers without medical credentials to participate in this program due to the potential risk. This project also requires a copy of the volunteer’s resume which clearly documents the education and/or professional credentials, prior to arrival. The projects will also require an official copy of the credentials. Depending on your specific placement and host institution, additional application materials may be required.

Project Location

The project is located in Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (pronounced SHAY-la) or Xelaju, is the second largest city in Guatemala. Situated at the southwest of the country, the surrounding department has a variety of landscapes extending from the cold highlands to the warm Pacific coast. There are numerous volcanoes, hot springs, valleys, mountains, rivers. The region provides a harvest of numerous products such as coffee, wheat, fruits and vegetables, as well as sheep and cattle breeding. The classical, neoclassical and Italian renaissance styles are apparent in the buildings and the houses which have been built during the past century and the beginning of the 20th, with volcanic stones by artistic "Quetzalteco" masons. Xela is also well-known for its abundance of volcanoes, mountains, and hot springs as well as other natural beauty and experiences.

Guatemala’s eco-diversity positions the country as a global “biodiversity hot spot”. Natural adventures abound in Guatemala and many activities are available for day trips or longer excursions. The terrain is diverse including mountains, rain forests, jungles and the highlands. Popular activities include eco-tours, mountaineering and water based sports. There are many adventurous options as well as calmer activities for the non-thrill seekers. Many hours can be spent in the streets of Antigua or biking through the surrounding areas. Cultural diversity can be explored in restaurants, markets and museums.

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