Medical Volunteer Abroad

South America faces unique healthcare challenges every day. As a medical volunteer abroad, you can join others in tackling these challenges head on and do your part to help improve public health outcomes in developing regions of countries like Argentina, Peru and Chile.

Student working with local childA medical internship abroad can provide students with rewarding experiences that will not only help them improve their Spanish language competencies, but also help them carve out new specialized interests within the medical field itself. Plus, you’ll get to work closely with pre-med students, experienced healthcare professionals, local children, families and more along the way.

Pre-med students often choose a path in healthcare to satisfy their passion for helping others – and what better way to help others than to work directly with those who need it most?

Study Abroad with a Purpose

Whether it’s volunteering, shadowing real, local doctors, or applying for a pre-med internship abroad, Ecela Spanish provides medical students with unique opportunities to have purposeful and philanthropic experiences when they study abroad in South America. Like our other medical Spanish programs, the medical volunteer program is geared towards healthcare professionals and pre-med students who anticipate using Spanish in their future careers.

The ideal medical volunteer abroad candidate should be comfortable with the following:

  • Living without all the creature comforts of home
  • Meeting new people and becoming immersed in a new culture

In addition, medical volunteers should have a desire to observe South American healthcare in action and have a genuine interest in learning Spanish. There are a few ways healthcare and pre-med volunteers can learn Spanish at Ecela:

Spanish Courses – Aside from volunteering with local public health programs, students can receive credit for up to 3 semesters of Spanish and learn much more. All our Spanish courses boast small group environments with coursework that’s carefully designed for rapid fluency development.

Medical Shadowing – In addition to being a medical volunteer or intern, we can provide firsthand observation experiences with South American doctors in our partner health clinics. All shadowing activities comply with American Medical Association international guidelines.

Family Homestays – Like our other programs, medical volunteers have the chance to develop a greater understanding of Latino culture by living with a host family. A family homestay is your window into authentic South American culture and a source of local expertise.

So what are you waiting for? Gain healthcare experience and improve your Spanish communication skills today with flexible, affordable medical volunteer abroad programs at Ecela Spanish!


What Our Students Say


I was able to have hands-on experience that I otherwise would not have had.

My favorite part about the Spanish and Medical shadowing program with Ecela was having the opportunity to shadow local doctors in El Hospital Regional de Cusco.

I was able to have hands-on experience that I otherwise would not have had. During my time in gastroenterology, I witnessed many endoscopies and other procedures. While in the emergency room the doctors put us to work, taking information from patients and checking vital signs.

My favorite part, however, was spending time in the infectious diseases ward, where I got to see many interesting cases that aren’t commonly seen in the United States such as tuberculosis, dengue fever and even parasitic infections.

The knowledge and experience I gained while shadowing in Cusco were not only eye-opening but also increased my confidence both in speaking Spanish as well as working in a health-care environment.

by Tess Hansen from University of Nebraska - Lincoln


I learned so much from the doctors, my classmates, the Ecela staff, locals, travelers, and the kids we volunteered with.

The Spanish and Medical shadowing program was really an amazing experience. I didn’t have any Spanish experience at all before I arrived and by the time I left, I could understand and speak a significant amount!

I decided to go during my gap year between undergrad and medical school, and it really provided an incredible opportunity to learn the language, see medicine at practice in another country, and fall in love with Peru. Even though my Spanish skills were very basic, I still absorbed a lot in our shadowing sessions and got to observe big and subtle differences between hospitals there and the US.

Also, one of the best parts was the people I met. I learned so much from the doctors, my classmates, the Ecela staff, locals, travelers, and the kids we volunteered with. I will remember them all for a long, long time.

by Lisa Wang from Northwestern University