WHY we need you in Costa Rica
HOW can you help?
WHAT you can do?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: MEDICAL VOLUNTEERING
LOCATION: SAN JOSE
START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)
ACCOMMODATION: HOMESTAY (SHARED ROOMS)
MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK
MIN AGE: 18+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Healthcare professionals & final year medical students
Costa Rica does has a national healthcare system for all citizens, however due to funding by the government and various politics, some of the poorer people do not have equal access and local healthcare centres in these areas can often be understaffed and with limited resources. This can have a huge effect on health in the poorer regions. And this is where you can make a massive difference.
You will get the chance to work in hospitals, clinics, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities. You also have the chance to volunteer on week-long medical campaigns, vaccination programs, whilst learning the healthcare system in Costa Rica.
Medical professionals and last year students
For experienced professionals and those in the last 2 years of medical school, projects can have a greater level of responsibility. You can work at hospitals, clinics, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities, alongside the local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Depending on your previous medical experience and Spanish language skills, you can get involved with shadowing local doctors and nurses, running health check-ups, assist with triage, taking blood pressures and other vital signs, help on administration such as patient records, prepare materials and equipment, and assist during mealtimes.
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and located in the middle of the country. It’s in a great spot to enjoy the city, as well as trips to the beach on the weekends. Around a 2 to 4 hour drive from the city, you will find rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, and beautiful beaches. San Jose also has plenty of shopping, cinemas, restaurants and nightlife.
- Create medical campaigns on healthcare, dental care and personal hygiene
- Health checks, taking blood pressure, handing out medications
- Shadow local doctors and nurses
- Talk to patients and interact with them
Food & Accommodation
The majority of our volunteers will stay with a pre-approved middle-class Costa Rican family. You have the option of a shared or a private room. For shared rooms, you are placed with 1-3 other people of the same gender and age group. In San Jose, the host families live in the San Pedro area, which is around a 10 to 60-minute walk or bus ride (depending on where you’re placed) from the volunteer centre. You’ll be given a key to the house and are free to come and go as you please, but you must respect the house rules and practices of your host family.
The host family can help you with washing laundry. There is a small charge of ₡2,500 or $5 per kilo (2.2 lbs) which is paid directly to the family. If you are staying at a student residence, hostel, hotel or apartment that does not have a laundry service available, you can use a nearby laundrette (lavanderia).
Breakfast and dinner will be served 7 days a week and will usually be local cuisine, cooked by your host family. The food in Costa Rica is a mix of African, Italian, French, Chinese, and Spanish cuisines. Common food are grains such as rice, corn, and beans and different meats mixed with spices like coriander, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme and nutmeg. The food is usually mildly seasoned and has plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Below images show a typical South American homestay, and some of the San Jose volunteer hub/ centre.
- English Teaching
- Animal Care
1 Week - $495
2 Weeks - $765
3 Weeks - $1035
4 Weeks - $1250
8 Weeks - $1990
12 Weeks - $2750
1 Day Orientation
24/7 In-Country Support
Project Materials & Equipment
Pre-departure Expert Advice
Preperation Tools & Checklists
Certificate of Completion
If you have a desire to help those in need, love talking and communicating with people, putting a smile on their faces and getting stuck in what whatever work is required, this could be the project for you. Spanish language skills are recommended, and tasks will depend on how you communicate in Spanish and how you take initiative.
- Airport pick-up
- Host family accommodations
- Breakfast and dinner, 7 days/week
- 1 day orientation
- 24/7 in-country support
- Walking tour
- Official certificate of volunteer service
- Letter of recommendation
- Spanish language tutoring table
- Tandem Conversation Program
- WiFi and computer lab
- Salsa dance classes
- Cooking classes
- Free coffee and tea and on-site snack bar
- Volunteer centre open 7 days/week
- Travel insurance
- Daily transportation
- Travel and tours
- Transfer back to the airport
- Personal spending money
Each project will include a 1-day orientation to familiarise yourself with the local area, rules, safety advice and general information. Your host family will show you the best way to get to/from your accommodation to the volunteer centre. Orientation will include health and safety advice, do’s and don’ts, cultural norms, activities and tours you can do on weekends, and a short walking tour, showing you the local area. You are also able to take a free Spanish placement exam. On your first day the local coordinator will take you to the placement, where you will be introduced to everyone and shown around the project.
Most volunteers either walk or take the bus, depending on how far their project is. Journey time varies widely from project to project, and you should expect to spend 15-60 minutes traveling each way. You might also need to change buses during your trip. Taxi’s are also widely available but do cost more than buses. It can be hard to change your project after you start volunteering, so please be ready to travel to your designated project every day.
PLEASE NOTE: Volunteers are required to pay for the daily transportation to and from your project. Local buses are very affordable, and a one-way trip will cost around ₡350 (around $0.60) on average. Taxis are more expensive, and costs vary based on how long the journey is. A budget of around US $5 is recommend per day for transportation to and from your project.
Sunday – Arrival / Welcome and Home Stay Introduction
Monday – Orientation day
Tuesday to Friday
Here is a rough guide on what to expect:
- Breakfast at the accommodation
- 3-4 hours of volunteer work either in the morning or afternoon
- Your own lunch at the accommodation or project site
- Free time
- Dinner at the accommodation
San Jose is the capital city and has plenty to do from city tours, watching a show at the theatre, markets, museums, parks, and city walking tours. You can also take day trips to mountains, volcanoes and the beach.
Situated about 90 km northwest of San Jose is Arenal volcano, measuring 1,633 metres high. This scenic volcano is one of the most popular tourist attractions, with daily tours walking around it, plus it’s proximity to the nearby rainforest and waterfalls make it a popular place to visit.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
Close by the where a lot of our projects are, this National park is one of the most popular in Costa Rica. With beautiful beaches, rainforest walking trails and an abundance of wildlife, this is a must visit for any traveller!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Another stunning destination to visit and a lush oasis of green rainforest and misty fog and clouds sitting at the top of the canopy. There are around 420 different types of orchids, ferns mosses, as well as a large bird population- perfect for nature and wildlife lovers. There are also night time walking tours.
Corcovado National Park
A stunning national park with plenty of hiking trails, natural swimming holes, waterfalls, rainforest, wildlife, flora and fauna and camping. Here you will find more than 400 bird species, monkeys, sea turtles, over 40 frog species, 100 butterfly species and perhaps even a jaguar.
Costa Rica has so much to do for those who like to live on the wild side! From ziplining, white water rafting, canyoning, surfing, snorkelling, diving, horse riding and paddle boarding. This is a nature and adventure lovers paradise!
There is no shortage of beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. From white sand, black sand, beaches that meet jungle and all with crystal clear, blue waters. Many of the beach town have cafes, restaurants, accommodation and places to grab a fresh coconut juice, the perfect way to chill out after a hot day!
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Medical qualification proof or a certificate to say you are studying medicine or a health-related course (3rd or 4th year student)
- Bring your own scrubs, stethoscope, closed-toed shoes
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America and is bordered by Nicaragua to the North, Panama to the South, the Pacific Ocean to the West, and the Caribbean Sea to the East. The country has a population of 5 million people and is roughly the same size as a large city in the USA! Costa Rica offers incredible mountain trails, coffee plantations, lush rainforests and some stunning beaches, with a huge variety of landscapes.
Volunteer projects are situated in the beach town of Manuel Antonio and in the capital city of San Jose. Some projects are situated in areas further afield, offering a more ‘off the beaten track’ option. These areas are Guanacaste (beach), Caribbean (beach), and Monteverde (cloud forest).
Manuel Antonio: Located at sea level, you can expect average temperatures from 19 degree Celsius to 28 degrees. The dry season is from December to April with hot and humid weather. The wet season is from May to November. The weather will be humid, with showers throughout the day. The plus side of travelling during this time is that everything will be so green!
San Jose: At 1170 metres above sea level, temperatures can range from 20-33 degrees Celsius. December to April has little to no rain, moderate temperatures and can get cooler during the evenings. May to November experiences warm days, cool nights and short intermittent bursts of rain and sun.
Costa Rica still has much of its Spanish heritage (the national language), with a vast amount of the population being of Afro-Caribbean descent. There is also a small population Jewish and Chinese communities. A large proportion of the country is Catholic and Latino music and dance are enjoyed throughout the country, as well as a love for soccer. Cost Rica disbanded their armed forces in 1949, as the area is so safe. The people are happy, laid back and welcoming.
33 Years Non Profit Experience
IVI is an Australian charity & non profit organisation founded in 1989 and is one of the pioneers of overseas volunteering successfully placing over 20,000 volunteers globally.
Affordable Volunteer Travel
Safe & Responsible Projects
Work Experience & University Credits
Check out this amazing blog with step by step info on how to raise funds for your overseas volunteer experience to help maximize your impact abroad. Guide to Fundraising