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Looking for the perfect blend of giving back, cultural immersion, and adventure without breaking the bank? The Guatemala program is your ideal choice!
Medical and Healthcare Volunteer Program in Guatemala - Antigua

Medical and Healthcare Volunteer Program in Guatemala - Antigua

Purpose
Improve access to quality healthcare
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Duration
Choose from 1-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hour a day
Age
Volunteers aged 18+
Accommodation
Homestay or volunteer house
Program fees
From AU$735 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers at all levels of medical training and experience. Qualified professionals and more experienced students will be able to act independently and get hands-on experience, while other volunteers can observe clinical practice in action and assist local staff.

Project details

Ready and willing to lend a hand as a Medical and Healthcare volunteer in Guatemala? International Volunteer HQ’s Medical and Healthcare project empowers volunteers to assist with clinics in low-income areas, elderly homes and facilities for people with disabilities. Volunteers gain valuable experience in a medical and healthcare setting while helping look after people in the community who may not otherwise have access to adequate healthcare.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The healthcare system in Guatemala faces many challenges including being underfunded and understaffed. Especially outside of the major cities, local people struggle to access adequate medical care. Volunteers can help address this critical lack of resources by providing care to disadvantaged communities and helping ensure their health and wellbeing is looked after.

Your volunteer work in Antigua will be set in clinics in low-income areas, elderly homes and facilities for people with disabilities. Your tasks will match your skills and experience, with more experienced volunteers able to act independently alongside a local medical professional with hands-on tasks. You are required to be suitably qualified for any tasks you carry out, and this will be determined by the local staff you are working with.

Volunteer with no previous Medical experience, students enrolled in pre-medical and nursing programs, first and second year medical students, Health Science professionals, and medical professionals such as EMTs, CNAs or Medical Assistants can expect to volunteer at elderly homes, and facilities for people with disabilities. Typical tasks will include:

  • Provide much-needed companionship to patients
  • Conversation-talk therapy
  • Support staff with feeding, bathing, and changing beds
  • Distributing medication
  • Assisting residents during exercise programs and arts and crafts projects

Fully licensed medical professionals and students in their third year of study or above can expect to be placed at clinics, elderly homes or special needs care facilities. Typical tasks include:

  • Shadow a local doctor/nurse
  • Assist with check-ups, triage, and taking vitals
  • Prepare medical equipment
  • Organize patient records
  • Prepare medication
  • Cleaning wounds
  • Giving injections and sutures
  • Giving vaccinations
  • Drawing blood samples
  • Assist patients during mealtimes
  • Provide patients much-needed companionship in some cases

Volunteers are required to bring their own PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to the program, including their own scrubs, disposable latex gloves, surgical masks, and closed-toed shoes.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Medical and Healthcare volunteering in Antigua with IVHQ?

As a medical and healthcare volunteer in Guatemala you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping patients in disadvantaged communities
  • Improving access to healthcare
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Observing clinical practice in a cross-cultural setting
  • Gaining medical experience
  • Immersing yourself in Guatemalan culture
  • Discovering the charms of ancient Antigua

Volunteer requirements

  • To join the Medical and Healthcare project in Guatemala you’ll need to be a qualified medical professional or a medical and nursing student at any level of training, with some experience in a clinical setting.
  • You’ll need to provide evidence of your education and qualifications to our local team in Guatemala once you have registered for the program, as per Guatemalan Ministry of Health requirements.
  • It is strongly recommended that volunteers on this project know how to speak Spanish or learn as much as they can before the program -Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

KA
Katelynn Adams
17 Jul 2024

I was so hesitant about this experience because it is SO out of my comfort zone. But it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Being immersed in another culture and working along side them was such an amazing experience and I learned so so much even from my short time of being there. I think I grew so much as a person from this experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested. Even if you are hesitant or nervous to do it, I’d say go for it. So many of the other volunteers feel the exact same way and there is so much support from IVHQ and the local team.

...
JC
Julianna Chancey
28 May 2024

I think the biggest things I gained from this experience was learning Spanish, being emerged into a new culture, and helping people in a way I've never before. I would say stay open to any opportunities that come your way.

...
LA
Leah Rose Alexander
02 May 2024

I feel that I gained a new understanding of healthcare in the developing world and the various health issues faced by individuals who struggle with socioeconomic and environmental insecurity. As I was able to practice a lot of the history taking and physical examination skills I learned in medical school, I definitely think this is a great program for a medical student looking to gain experience in a foreign environment. The only piece of advice I would give to someone prior to joining this program is to try to brush up on their Spanish as best as they can, as I certainly had to put my Spanish knowledge to the test while working in the clinic.

...
AR
Ayeesha Rela
10 May 2023

The biggest impact my volunteering trip has on me was the range of people I met during the volunteering. It was sometimes really distressing at times to see how some patients could not afford some basic healthcare or water and I really struggled with this initially. However, I had learnt some invaluable skills by taking into consideration of this and trying to adapt their treatments so that it was more easily accessible for them.

To anyone still hesitating, I would say you should definitely just go for it. I was really scared and nervous beforehand, but after I got there I had no regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I was there for. The volunteering, Spanish lessons were so useful and Antigua is just such a beautiful place to be in as well. I thought 4 weeks is too long but it was the perfect amount of time and I could have stayed there for longer as there is just so much to do there outside of the volunteering too. Also as a solo traveller I felt completely safe throughout!

...
SM
Sheena Maldonado
05 Aug 2022

My favorite moment from volunteering was the profound impact of doing good and giving back. I was assigned the medical project and I had to keep an open mind of what I was going to experience during my time in Guatemala. I felt helpless that I couldn’t reach the hundreds of locals living in the town I volunteered in, but I was so incredibly happy and appreciative of those I helped! Establishing a friendship among the team at the clinic, and the local team, ensured that I was able to perform at my very best during my time there.

Growth begins outside of your comfort zone! It establishes a different, yet positive perspective, and self-awareness about yourself. You aren’t alone, everyone you meet is also on that same path - whether they are new to volunteering abroad or new to volunteering. There’s a sense of community from everyone you meet that it makes these volunteering abroad experiences so memorable and special!

...
DD
Diane DiMola
12 Apr 2022

I have over 18 years of nursing experience and still learned as much as I did in nursing school. My nursing expertise was greatly utilized by the team but I was still happy to see things that I never encountered before. Working in the clinic is the definition of true public health service to those underserved. Your heartstrings will be pulled and you'll remember why you entered the nursing profession in the first place.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit

Location

Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala with IVHQ

Location

When you walk the cobblestone streets of Antigua it is easy to see why it has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Baroque architecture, Spanish colonial churches and brightly painted buildings can be admired on nearly every corner. The urban environment speaks to the rich history of the city which dates back to the 1500s and includes a number of destructive earthquakes which have seen it repaired and rebuilt over a long period of time.

IVHQ’s Guatemala program is based in Antigua with placements in the city and surrounding areas. At these placements you’re likely to see the struggle faced by many Guatemalans living with limited resources. Despite the beauty of the place and its busy tourism industry, Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Its citizens can benefit greatly from the support volunteers can give local initiatives which strive to improve their lives.

Antigua is located approximately 30 minutes from Guatemala City.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday and volunteers need to arrive in Guatemala City on the day before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Antigua. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Guatemala prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Antigua on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at their office in Antigua. Orientation begins on Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Guatemala – an introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Guatemala, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays

Volunteers will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 5 hours. Work and hours are dependent on the project and location. If a volunteer is taking Spanish language lessons, they will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half in lessons. A typical schedule is as follows:

7:30 - 8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
8:30 AM Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer meets with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the accommodation, go sightseeing or do some shopping.
7:00 PM Dinner with your host family.

Weekends

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore Antigua and other parts of Guatemala. Hop on a chicken bus and discover the beautiful architecture and sights of the charming city of Antigua, or jump on an ATV and go exploring at a coffee plantation, on a volcano or through small countryside villages. You’ll also find a great selection of markets selling everything from fruit and vegetables to locally-made handcrafts and cooking classes that can teach you how to make Guatemala’s tasty national stew - Pepian.

Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to destinations, such as Tikal, Belize, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.

Sunday is a religious day of rest and many shops and restaurants are closed. Most Guatemalans devote the day to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers who are under the age of 27 are accommodated alongside other volunteers in a large, dormitory style volunteer house, and those over the age of 27 are accommodated in smaller local homestays. If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a home-stay.

Living is comfortable with electricity, running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is not always heated. You will need to bring your own towel and toiletries, but bed linen is provided.

Bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with 2 - 6 other volunteers of the same gender. Private room upgrades are available in Antigua and cost $62 per person, per week.

WiFi is available at the volunteer houses and homestays. However, the connection may not be as reliable as what you are used to at home. You will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in Antigua.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18, in a homestay. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

Meals

Volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast will be bread or tortillas, spreads, fruit and eggs with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat, beans, starches and vegetables.

Lunches are not provided to Antigua-based volunteers as they are usually away from their accommodation around midday. We recommend budgeting between AU$4 and AU$7 per day to buy lunch at local restaurants recommended by staff.

Filtered water will be available at the accommodation, and bottled water is also easy to purchase and inexpensive throughout Guatemala.

When you apply for the program, please be sure to notify us of any special dietary requirements so we can make arrangements for you.

Pricing

  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$520) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $465 Equivalent to $66/day
2 weeks $820 Equivalent to $59/day
3 weeks $1,107 Equivalent to $53/day
4 weeks $1,378 Equivalent to $49/day
5 weeks $1,668 Equivalent to $48/day
6 weeks $1,958 Equivalent to $47/day
8 weeks $2,538 Equivalent to $45/day
10 weeks $3,118 Equivalent to $45/day
12 weeks $3,698 Equivalent to $44/day
16 weeks $4,858 Equivalent to $43/day
20 weeks $6,018 Equivalent to $43/day
24 weeks $7,178 Equivalent to $43/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$520) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Guatemala generally find US$80 - US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses. Please note this budget is for general expenses and does not include money you will need for any weekend activities you plan to do.
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Antigua

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Antigua! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Antigua program.

Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

Step into the world of coffee excellence in the lush highlands of Guatemala

AU$124
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)

See all of Guatemala’s major hot spots on this 1-week Mini Adventure tour.

AU$1755
Volcano Tour (Half day)
Volcano Tour (Half day)

Trek up Pacaya Volcano, a fully active volcano and national park. Enjoy breathtaking views and learn about Guatemala’s natural history.

AU$77

Affordable Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Guatemala program, however on certain projects volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Guatemala. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the IVHQ Program Manager prior to departure. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. These lessons are not available for volunteers during the Beach and Turtle Conservation project, Mayan Cultural Immersion project, Eco-Agriculture project or Holiday Experience project due to the remoteness of these project locations. Volunteers on these projects can arrange lessons before or after their projects if they wish to stay longer in Antigua.

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: from AU$102 per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from AU$126 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from AU$237 per week

How to book IVHQ’s language lessons: When you apply for your IVHQ volunteer program, make a note in your application of the language classes you’re interested in.

Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on your chosen language classes.

Check what's required to visit Guatemala

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Guatemala City
Population 15.08 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Guatemala has a range of micro climates and the high altitude of Guatemala City results in a subtropical highland climate in this region. There aren’t distinct seasons in Guatemala and the temperature is typically mild year round. Temperatures range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F) during the day, and 12°C to 17°C (54°F to 63°F) at night. The country attracts winds and rain during the months of May to October with the hottest month being April.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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