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Medical Gap Years & Volunteering

Looking to volunteer on a medical project during your gap year? Find out more in our comprehensive guide, and decide whether it's the best choice for you.

Is a Medical project the right type of Gap year program for me?

If you are aiming to become a nurse or a doctor for your career, then a medical placement abroad is an ideal option.

The experience will open your eyes to the challenges faced by hospitals that suffer severe lack of funding, as well as allow you to gain invaluable insight and skills that will make you stand out from the crowd on your CV.

This type of project is not just for those studying Medicine – it is also useful if you are going to university to study Nursing, Physiotherapy, Dentistry or any other medical-related career.

What will I do during my Medical Gap year project?

This depends to a certain extent on exactly which community project you choose to volunteer for and where it is.

However, most projects will involve several or more of the following:

  • Educating adults and children about the effects of HIV/AIDS and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Shadowing nurses and doctors during hospital rounds and consultations
  • Dressing wounds
  • Carrying out basic tests such as pregnancy, ECG, and glucose
  • Helping doctors with administration work
  • Assisting in laboratories
  • Fundraising for hospitals and help with building maintenance

There are likely to be other duties involved that vary between different projects, so check the details on each individual project webpage or contact the Gap year company for more specific information on what you’ll be up to.

How long can I volunteer for?

For most medical projects, you can volunteer for as little as 2 weeks, or up to several months.

The length of time you spend volunteering may be determined by your budget, or if you have other Gap year plans you wish to fit around it, such as retaking A levels or travelling.

Either way, it’s entirely your decision.

How much does it cost?

This depends on how long you wish to volunteer for, where you go and which gap year agency you choose your project with.

You can expect to pay anything between £500 and £1000 for a 2 week period and up to £2,700 for a 12 week stay.

It’s a good idea to look at different companies that offer the same or similar project you would like to do, and compare prices in case one happens to fall within your budget.

However, whichever one you decide on, it is important to check what the cost includes.

Be aware that fees for most projects will not include flights, visas, travel insurance, food and any extra activities or excursions during the program.

So work out how much more money this will be on top of the project fee before booking a placement, because if it turns out to be more than you’ve budgeted, then you could lose your deposit if you have to pull out.

Check out our Gap year guide for more help on deciding which Gap year agency to use.

Where can I volunteer?

Due to the large number of gap year companies now in operation, there are opportunities for taking part in medical projects all over the world.

However, most are run in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America, where they will be more beneficial to the local people.