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Medical Elective Volunteer Project in Nepal

Medical Elective Volunteer Project in Nepal

Interested in Medical volunteering in Nepal? International Volunteer HQ’s Medical Elective enables volunteers to observe and assist in hospitals and clinics in locations across Nepal. Volunteers gain medical experience while seeing firsthand the challenges faced by a medical system in an under-resourced and developing country. Local staff benefit from the extra help as well as the cross-cultural exchange of learnings and ideas that international volunteers bring.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from $525 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Observe clinical practice in a cross-cultural setting

  • Explore Nepal’s diverse landscapes

  • Stay with a local family for a unique experience of Nepali life

Key information

Improve access to quality healthcare
Based in hospitals and clinics in Nepal
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from $525 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 12 weeks
Everest Base Camp and other tours available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are at least a pre-medical or pre-nursing student. Local regulations prevent volunteers from treating patients without the supervision of local professionals so most volunteer work will be observational in nature.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The contrast between medical practices in the western world and those in developing countries can be stark, and this is a real opportunity to understand and contribute to the realities of modern medicine in an under-resourced environment.

As a Medical Elective volunteer you will assist in hospitals in Kathmandu, Chitwan or Pokhara, shadowing and assisting local physicians and nurses. It’s possible for volunteers to get good exposure to a range of different medical departments, but as local regulations prevent volunteers from performing independent tasks, you should not expect to be carrying out hands-on medical duties. For this reason, this project is best suited to medical students.

Volunteers are able to:

  • Observe operating rooms
  • Assist with physical therapy
  • Help with burns patients
  • Take part in emergency room rounds
  • Lead family planning sessions
  • Give immunizations
  • Help new mothers and babies

Experienced and longer term volunteers are more likely to be able to assist with hands-on tasks, and can also help with healthcare and outreach campaigns in rural health clinics.

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 Elective volunteering in Nepal with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in healthcare in Nepal you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping in local hospitals and clinics
  • Learning about healthcare in a cross-cultural setting
  • Observing a wide range of clinical practice
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining medical experience
  • Immersing yourself in Nepali culture
  • Exploring Nepal’s amazing mountain ranges

Volunteer requirements

  • To join the Medical Elective project in Nepal volunteers need to be at least a pre-medical or pre-nursing student. CNAs, EMTs and paramedics may be eligible for this project too, as well as medical professionals; however, it is worth noting that this project is purely observational with minimal hands-on experience.

  • 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.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

JH
Jan Hemmers
06 Nov 2023

I felt well supported by IVHQ and the local team at all times. Everything was really well organized and the people were helpful and friendly. This was one of the best experiences of my life.

...
SA
Salinee Arasu
03 Nov 2023

My IVHQ Program Manager did a great job assisting us with the preparations - thank you so much. The documents needed were clearly stated together with the checklist and the checklist eased our preparations. The local team were very helpful and resourceful. They provided us with all the information needed.

I've always thought volunteering is a beautiful experience, especially in a healthcare setting. I noticed how the hospital lacked resources and staff when I was there, especially in the emergency department. Volunteering had a huge impact on me as I continue to contribute my time skills, I also gained experiences, connections and values that enriched my life.

I believe volunteering brings people together with shared goals and values. It fosters a sense of belonging and strengthens community bonds. I met lots of people from all around the world with the same vision as me.

...
MA
Marte Aasland
31 Aug 2023

Before starting my trip the advice and follow-up was amazing - I felt safe and informed the whole time ahead of my trip. The local team was amazing - I felt well taken care of in the orientation. My accommodation was absolutely amazing - the family was very helpful and welcoming, and the house was clean and organised. My absolute favorite part was meeting other people. Not just the other volunteers, but also the local people and the other staff at the hospital. People in Nepal are so friendly, and I loved to learn about their culture and kindness.

...
PS
Prissha Siveraj
29 Aug 2023

My IVHQ Program Manager did a great job guiding me throughout the program. The local team were great. They provided us with everything we needed. I approached this volunteering program with tremendous excitement. It was really an eye-opening experience as the facilities and medical care are slightly different than in our country. Nepal was a decision I am profoundly grateful for, as it granted me a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience that surpassed my expectations.

...
PT
Parvin Thiru
28 Aug 2023

I learned to appreciate new cultures and rituals. It was a great experience overall staying with a host family who uses a different language and has a different lifestyle.

...
JD
Jonathan Dunn
02 Jun 2023

The preparation checklist provided by IVHQ was very easy to use and straight forward, allowing a simple and stress-free preparation process. The local team went above and beyond to make myself feel comfortable - this effort should not go unnoticed as they deserve a great amount of appreciation. This volunteering experience has taught me a lot about myself and I feel like I have definitely grown as a person. Being my first time solo travelling, I learnt a lot more from things I didn’t expect I would have and I appreciate this so much.

I am really blessed that I stayed in Dharma’s household during my stay in Pokhara, Nepal. He is as lovely as his family and he really works so hard to make his guests feel comfortable - as if they were still at home. The accommodation itself is very nice and spacious. To top the homestay off, they even have the cutest dog anyone could fall in love with, called Oscar. The meals prepared by Dharmas family more than exceeded expectations. The meals were as delicious as there was variety being served, which really made me feel like I was at home. Especially on my last night with Dharma where we ate a traditional chicken roast together.

Interacting with other volunteers in a cooperative way which truly engaged and helped the children learn at Samara school was my favorite moment. Taking on the position of a role model for these students was an experience I will always remember. Also, seeing the vast differences between my home country and Nepal has truly let me learn a lot about myself and the world around me. Life long friendships have been made during my time volunteering in Nepal, this is unique to this opportunity I took and I’m very happy with its outcome.

It’s better to grow old with memories and not dreams. If you truly aspire to volunteer in a country abroad then please don’t hesitate to do it because there is no chance you will regret it. It has been such an amazing experience for myself and I’m so happy I turned my dreams of being in Nepal into many beautiful memories.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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

Academic course credit

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Volunteer Abroad in Nepal with IVHQ

Location

Land-locked in the middle of South Asia, Nepal is known for its astonishing alpine scenery and breathtaking mountainscapes. But this diverse country offers much more than its remarkable natural environment. Among Nepal’s 28 million people, there are more than 100 different ethnic groups speaking as many languages and following a large number of religious and cultural traditions. It also faces the challenges associated with a history of civil war, natural disasters, political corruption and a lack of resources and infrastructure to support its population.

Volunteers can have a meaningful impact on Nepalese communities by providing assistance with a wide range of activities that help make life, and the future, better for local people. IVHQ has a number of volunteer projects in Nepal. Some are located on the outskirts of the capital city of Kathmandu in rural and urban areas, while others are in Chitwan 150 kilometres away, in the middle of Terrai - a flat fertile plain that borders India and stretches right across Southern Nepal. Pokhara is located in mid-western Nepal and is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its amazing mountain views.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Kathmandu on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.

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

If you are traveling in Nepal prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up at a prearranged destination in Kathmandu on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Nepal team in Kathmandu and runs over the course of two days. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Nepal – an introduction to Nepal, Nepalese customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Nepal, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to visit local temples, sample authentic Nepali food, meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

If you are placed in Pokhara or Chitwan, you will travel to your placement location on Tuesday afternoon and you will begin work on Wednesday. If you are located in Kathmandu, you will begin work on Wednesday.

Nepalese festival dates to note:

  • Dashain Festival (15th to 28th of October 2023)
  • Tihar Festival (11th to 15th of November 2023) During these times, there will be no placement work available; however, the accommodation and all services of the program will still be available.

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:

While a volunteer daily schedule will vary depending on the specific placement, a typical day is as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the homestay.
8:00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. There is usually a tea break and a lunch break.
2:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house, go sightseeing, or do some shopping.
7:00 - 9:00 PM Dinner at the homestay.

Weekends:

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local town and Nepal. Known for being home to the world’s tallest mountain, Mt Everest, Nepal is an adventurer’s paradise. It has a vast selection of exceptional hikes in the Himalayas with arresting views in every direction, white-water rafting, canyon swings, paragliding and scenic flights. It also has a rich multicultural heritage and a huge collection of temples, pagodas, shrines, carvings and ancient architecture, not to mention an astonishing array of wildlife and an interesting cuisine influenced by its many ethnic groups and cultures.

Accommodation and WiFi

On arrival in Nepal, volunteers stay in a local hotel in Kathmandu for their two-day orientation.

Volunteers are then accommodated together in homestays and hosted by local families who have been approved by our program staff. We give your host family a fee for your support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a host family, providing you with a unique opportunity to learn about the Nepalese way of life, meet local people, try traditional food and speak the local language - especially when host families in Nepal tend to have limited English.

Living is basic but comfortable and most homestays have electricity and running water, with the exception of some rural homestays which are without these conveniences during the dry season. Squat toilets are the norm in Nepal and you will not come across many western toilets. Volunteers can also expect low-pressure showers that are generally not heated, however, this is refreshing after a day in the heat.

You can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers and bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. It is recommended volunteers bring their own sleeping bag and mosquito nets for any trips away.

WiFi is available in most of the volunteer homestays, however those based in Chitwan should expect to walk to a nearby cafe for internet access. If you would like to keep connected during your stay, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Nepal.

Meals

The staple meal for most Nepali families is dal bhat, which consists of lentil soup (dal), rice (bhat) and vegetables in curry (tarkari) and/or meat (masu) with a side of pickle/sauce (achar).

Food in Nepal is heavily influenced by the country’s Indian and Tibetan neighbours and includes plenty of curries, breads and potato-based dishes. Volunteers are served two meals per day at their homestay and can purchase additional food to supplement this if they wish.

Bottled water is readily available in Nepal and volunteers should budget approximately $5 per week for two liters a day. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but there is a need to be flexible.

Pricing

  • USD
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
2 weeks $525 Equivalent to $38/day
3 weeks $715 Equivalent to $34/day
4 weeks $905 Equivalent to $32/day
5 weeks $1,095 Equivalent to $31/day
6 weeks $1,285 Equivalent to $31/day
8 weeks $1,645 Equivalent to $29/day
10 weeks $2,005 Equivalent to $29/day
12 weeks $2,365 Equivalent to $28/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • 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.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, lunches, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Nepal generally find US$30 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches, and local tours and activities.

Free-time experiences & tours in Nepal

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

Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)
Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)

Embark on an unforgettable jungle safari to witness Nepal’s captivating wildlife in its natural habitat.

$180
Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)
Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)

This iconic expedition is the most popular trekking route in the Himalayas and is unlike any other in the world.

$1475
Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)
Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)

Reconnect with tranquility and mindfulness during a rejuvenating one-week yoga and meditation retreat, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the Western world.

$525
Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)
Everest Base Camp Trek (14 days)

This iconic expedition is the most popular trekking route in the Himalayas and is unlike any other in the world.

$1475
Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)
Hatha Yoga and Meditation Retreat (1 week)

Reconnect with tranquility and mindfulness during a rejuvenating one-week yoga and meditation retreat, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the Western world.

$525
Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)
Chitwan Jungle Safari (2 nights/3 days)

Embark on an unforgettable jungle safari to witness Nepal’s captivating wildlife in its natural habitat.

$180

Check what's required to visit Nepal

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

Capital Kathmandu
Population 28 million
Languages Nepali
Currency Rupee (NRs.)
Time zone UTC+05:45

Weather and climate: The climate in Nepal varies largely due to the variations in geography across the country. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons with dry weather and moderate temperatures. The Kathmandu Valley and other areas of high altitude experience summer temperatures of up to 28°C (82.4°F) and in winter, temperatures range between 2°C (35.6°F) and 20°C (68°F). The summer temperatures in Chitwan can reach up to 35°C (95°F) and in winter they range between 7°C (44.6°F) and a mild 23°C (73.4°F). The climate in Pokhara is similar to that of the Kathmandu Valley, with slightly warmer temperatures.

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How to get started

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