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Volunteer Nursing Abroad

By EveryNurse Staff on January 10, 2022

Nursing Volunteer Opportunities

The need for medical and healthcare volunteers exists worldwide in communities where marginalized groups and under-served populations have inadequate healthcare, infrastructure, and clinical expertise to address the issues they are facing. Nursing, medical, and other healthcare professionals with specialized skills can assist local staff in numerous ways, such as providing vaccinations and HIV testing, educating children and families about nutrition and disease prevention, providing check-ups, and promoting wellness.

You Can Make a Difference

To participate in a medical or healthcare volunteer program, you don’t necessarily have to have a medical degree or nursing license, as requirements vary by program. Many organizations accept volunteers for programs that do not require a credentialed healthcare professional and extend invitations to pre-med, nursing, and health-science students. In these roles, volunteers often help with logistical, administrative, and lingual support or community outreach initiatives. Regardless of your professional status, you will be asked to apply your skills and passion towards the betterment of people who need it most.

Why Volunteer?

If you know someone who has traveled internationally to volunteer, you have probably already heard about how life-changing the experience can be. Volunteering allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself, empower others, and contribute to the kind of world you want to live in every day. If hearing stories about incredible volunteer experiences makes you think about whether you should volunteer abroad too, here is a list of inspiring reasons for you to take the next step.

  • Make a positive impact on the life of someone less fortunate than you. Volunteering your time to support a cause or help others in need is an opportunity for you to grow as a person. Giving to those who are less fortunate doesn’t just make the world better – it will enrich your life and make you better. Studies repeatedly show that the act of giving boosts your health, happiness, and sense of well-being.
  • Learn about the healthcare practices and discrepancies of standards in developing countries. What factors have the greatest impact on the quality of care in developing countries? What can be done to improve clinical practice and raise the acceptable standard for treatment in resource-limited countries? Volunteering abroad provides you with an opportunity to learn first-hand about how gaps in knowledge, inappropriate applications of technology, infrastructure, and alternatives to conventional medicine impact the quality of health services.
  • Gain new skills, experience, knowledge, confidence, and self-esteem. Immersing yourself in a community is a great way to broaden your perception of the world and develop new skills. Volunteering will enhance qualities you already possess like patience, compassion, and resilience. Working alongside a diverse group of people will also improve your communication and interpersonal skills and help you discover a new passion or interest.
  • Meet new people, make new friends, and establish new connections. Surrounding yourself with people who are dedicated to improving others’ lives will give you a unique sense of purpose and allow you to broaden your network of friends. These connections will positively impact your perspective and help you develop an open-minded view of people from different walks of life.
  • Counteract the effects of anxiety and stress. Studies show that people who volunteer regularly are healthier both mentally and physically. Human beings are hard-wired to be helpful to others. The more we give, the happier we feel. The social aspect of helping and working with others can have a meaningful impact on your overall mood and psychological well-being by reducing stress and anxiety.

Featured Volunteer Organizations

Volunteering is a profound experience that allows you to make an impact and connect with communities in need. Choose from our shortlist of featured volunteer programs and take the first step towards making a difference in others’ lives.

Love VolunteeersLove Volunteers works closely with local organizations and charities in disadvantaged communities to offer cost-effective volunteer and intern abroad opportunities.
Project HopeThe global staff from Project Hope are on the ground in more than 25 countries, working together with medical volunteer teams and public health partners to transform the health and well-being of communities in need.
Global VolunteersGlobal Volunteers is an internationally recognized and respected non-profit leader that has mobilized volunteers to serve youth and families in hundreds of communities in 35 countries on six continents.
Volunteering JourneysVolunteering Journeys provides safe, authentic, and personalized volunteering programs in developing communities in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and Peru, where they have deep local knowledge and ground expertise.
International Volunteer HQEvery year IVHQ places over 3,000 volunteers in medical volunteer projects across 15 destinations worldwide. Students, nurses, and medical professionals at every stage and skill level are encouraged to apply.

Financial Aid for Volunteering Abroad

Most students and professionals hoping to volunteer abroad report travel costs as the most significant barrier to participating in international programs. The prospect of purchasing flights, obtaining travel insurance, paying program fees, and additional costs can deter the most motivated individual from pursuing their dreams.

The good news is there’s actually a large pool of funding support available for participants in volunteer abroad programs. Organizations from countries across the globe offer scholarships and grants to promote volunteerism, diversity initiatives, and community service. If traveling abroad is not feasible for you without financial assistance, we recommend researching the list of volunteer and public service awards below. 

Samuel Huntington Public Service Award$20,000January 14, 2022
Rustic PathwaysMultipleTBD
International Volunteer HQMultipleTBD
Volunteer Forever$500 to $1,000TBD
Diversity Abroad$500Fall, Summer, Spring
Hostelling International$2,000TBD
Go Overseas$3,000TBD
All People Be HappyMultipleTBD
Christianson Fellowship$2,500 to $10,000March 15, July, 15, August 15

Volunteer Nursing FAQ

Volunteering is the unpaid act of giving your time and labor for community service. Volunteering allows you to connect with others and to make an impact on marginalized communities with inadequate resources. Volunteers are often referred to as the glue that holds a community together.

Most community organizations are looking for volunteers with qualities you may already have. Commitment, reliability, passion, interpersonal skills, empathy, patience, communication skills, problem-solving, and the ability to learn quickly, are just a few of the most common characteristics that volunteer organizations look for.

Requirements vary by program. Healthcare professionals with specialized skills are often asked to assist local staff with programs that make the best use of their skills, such as providing vaccinations, HIV testing, providing check-ups, promoting wellness, and educating families about nutrition and disease prevention.

You don’t necessarily have to have a nursing license to volunteer, as requirements vary by program. Many organizations accept volunteers for programs that do not require a credentialed healthcare professional and extend invitations to nursing and health-science students. Students are often asked to assist with logistical, administrative, or community outreach projects in these roles.

Volunteer work can change your life and the lives of others. Students who participate in volunteer programs develop practical skills through real-world experience and build important habits like leadership and problem-solving that they need in their lives and future careers.

Volunteers are not paid. However, some nonprofit organizations and charities will provide stipends, discounts on services, and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, which have a monetary benefit for their volunteers.