Nutrition & Healthcare

Help the local medical professionals at assisted living and other healthcare facilities. You can work with the disabled, elderly or with children suffering from HIV. You also have the chance to volunteer on week-long medical campaigns, vaccination programs, whilst learning the healthcare system in Costa Rica.

we need you in Costa Rica

  • Around 30% of the population in Costa Rica sits below the poverty line
  • The majority of poverty is seen in rural areas, where there may be a lack of resources and limited job opportunites
  • Although Costa Rica has a national educational system, those in the poorer rural areas often lack teaching staff and resources
  • Climate change and deforestation are damaging Costa Rica's natural biodiversity

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can you help?

  • Help low income families and clinics with a lack of staff
  • Volunteer at hospitals, clinics, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities
  • Get stuck in, take inititive and be ready to offer your help with varied tasks
  • Enjoy working as part of a team with your fellow volunteers

can you do?

  • Work on medical campaigns and vaccination programs
  • Help distribute medicines
  • Assist with the disable and special needs
  • Help with physical therapy, speech therapy, arts and crafts, as well as interacting with patients

Why Involvement Volunteers International?

  • Non Profit Organisation & Charity
  • Over 30 Years Expertise Globally
  • Low Program Fees - From US$295
  • Excellent Safety Record, In-Country 24/7 Support & Emergency Assistance
  • 1 Application Fee - Multiple Countries
creative lesson drawing

  PROJECT NAME: NUTRITION & HEALTHCARE

LOCATION: MANUEL ANTONIO & SAN JOSE

  START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)

  ACCOMMODATION: HOMESTAY (SHARED ROOMS)

  MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK

  MIN AGE: 18+ 

  SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Professionals/ Students of medicine/ related field

  PROJECT COSTS: (Please enquire)

Overview

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.

The focus is on the elderly and those with special needs. Volunteers work with general patient care, physical therapy, and provide other support and assistance as needed. You can give these patients encouragement and companionship where it is needed most. You will be helping during mealtimes, conversation-talk therapy, exercise workshops, arts and crafts, as well as sorting and distributing medicine.

Pre-med and first year students

Volunteers must keep in mind that work can vary and the tasks that will be given to you will very much depend on your prior skill level and initiative. Those still studying medicine are encouraged to apply and work with mostly be at dedicated living facilities for the disabled, elderly or for children living with HIV. You can help with caring for patients, such as talking with them and putting a smile on their faces, handing out medications, feeding, bathing, and general care for the patients.  You could also be changing beds, doing speaking therapy, workshops (e.g. exercise, dental care), and art and craft activities.

You can also create medical campaigns to educate local disadvantaged communities on healthcare, dental care and personal hygiene.

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.

You can also create medical campaigns to educate local disadvantaged communities on healthcare, dental care and personal hygiene.

Location

Manuel Antonio is a small beachside village, situated right on the Pacific Ocean. There is a nearby National park which is considered one of the most biodiverse parks in the world. You may even spot a howler monkey or a sloth! The area is known for its biodiversity, as well as perfect white sand beaches. There are lots of activities to do in the area, like mountain and rainforest trails.

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.

Project Tasks

  • Create medical campaigns on healthcare, dental care and personal hygiene
  • Work on specialised living facilities
  • Help care for patients
  • 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 are of the volunteer hub/ centre (not homestays)

Testimonials...

FAQ...

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. Medical students are encouraged to apply. 

  • 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
  • Flights
  • 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

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.

Arenal Volcano

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.

Adventure activities

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!

Beach Hopping

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!

Volunteers must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Provide proof or a certificate to say you are studying medicine or a health-related course
  • 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 20-30 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.

30 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

We’re not motivated by shareholder profits.   Our fees are fully transparent to ensure maximum benefit where it is most needed. 

Safe & Responsible Projects

All projects include a dedicated 24/7 in-country management team, operational & risk assessment & overseas support contact.   All projects are personally inspected to ensure very high quality.
 

Work Experience & University Credits

We place thousands of Uni students and can assist you with course credits and in-field experience points.   Many of our project coordinators are qualified practitioners in their respective fields allowing unique in-field supervision and Uni accreditation options

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

Weekends & Extra Tours

Ready to Volunteer in Costa Rica?

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APPLY NOW

Ready to Volunteer abroad? Complete your application in about 5 min

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NEED MORE INFO?

Not sure which program is right for you? Contact us for more info

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SCHEDULE A CALL

Let's talk about it! Schedule your preferred time and date.

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