Advice on overseas internship/volunteer placements


Hello, I am a nursing student in an ADN program. My ultimate goal is to work in Public Health and Epidemiology, specifically working in developing nations. I should note that I have a previous BS in Psychology. My plan to get myself started on this path is to complete a volunteer placement or internship overseas during the summer break 6/20/13-9/20/13.

I have been researching many different options for both volunteer and internship placements, working with my schools office of international studies and the non-profit group One Nurse at a Time. I have narrowed my options down to a handful of organizations, but there are so many options for placements that I am having trouble deciding. I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has spent time in any of these places, just to hear what the best parts of the area are, what the worst parts are, how the safety is in the area, that sort of thing.

Here are the different areas that I am looking into.

Ghana (Accra or Volta Region)

Tanzania (Arusha or Dar es Salaam)

Kampala, Uganda

Kathmandu, Nepal

Meghauli, Nepal

Lusaka, Zambia

Kenya (Nairobi, Mombassa, Mbita, Watamu, Nakuru, or Masaai Land)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tacloban City, Philippines

Tirgu-Mures, Romania

I will be applying to volunteer for 6-8 weeks, and will also be taking 1-2 weeks once my volunteer placement is finished to just do straight forward travel. What I do during that final couple of weeks depends greatly on where I go (ie, if I go to Tanzania or Kenya I am climbing Kilaminjaro, if I choose Romania I plan on going to Cyprus). If you could include some of the major "must visit" places in the areas you know that would be amazing too. Thanks.


15 Posts

Specializes in OR.

hi aaomalley,

I am a Tirgu-Mures native, immigrated to US 8 years ago, and have been working in Los Angeles as a OR RN for the past 1 year. Though tiny in comparison to LA the city is safe, clean and beautiful, most everyone knows some english so language would not be a huge problem.If you go to Romania you also must visit Cluj Napoca, another beautiful town.

If you don't mind sharing I would like to ask about the volunteering opportunity you found in my home town, since i would love to volunteer myself.

Thank you.


4 Posts

The volunteer opportunity is with a group called Inspire (Volunteer Abroad with Inspire | Volunteer Work Abroad ). The placement is for emergency medicine working in both an ED and ambulance or flight nursing. The organization comes highly recommended, but I haven't done my own research into them yet. thanks for the info on the locale.


125 Posts

I spent six weeks working as a student nurse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania when I finished my degree.

I'm now almost finished my first year as a registered nurse and enrolled in a Masters of International Public Health.

I would recommend the organisation Work the World.

I would also recommend that you spend a lot of time researching ethical, productive and sustainable volunteer opportunities. It's all too easy to go on a volunteer trip that fulfils plenty of needs for you, the volunteer, and little or none, or worse, does damage to the community that you travel too.

Tanzania is a beautiful country and I had a brilliant time. If you decide to go here I'm happy to provide you with plenty of information. To be brief, must visits are Zanzibar (former Omani sultanate off the coast of Tanzania, two hours by fast catamaran from Dar, merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in the 60s) and of course safari. Mimuki is closer than the Sergengiti and a lot of friends had a wonderful time on safari in Mumuki. I flew to Kilimanjaro Airport (located between Arusha and Moshi - we flew with Precision Air for about $260 return) and went to Ngorogoro and the Serengeti - it was incredible. There are also plenty of uninhabited islands off Dar, easily accessible, and beach resorts and water parks just outside of town for relaxing after work. I didn't climb Kili for the lack of time factor but would have loved too. I travel to South Africa on the way home (South Africa is the only direct route to Australia/NZ out of Africa!)

I've also visited Cambodia (both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) and spent three weeks volunteering with an NGO in Siem Reap. I had an amazing time in Cambodia but this experience taught me that not all volunteer work is good work and not all NGOs are serving the communities they seek to help, despite their good intentions.

In Phnom Penh the main things to visit would be Tol Sleng (S21 prison) and the local killing fields. Siem Reap has more to offer from a tourism perspective. The Angkor temples (both within the Angkor complex and the surrounding area) could occupy you for a week or more. There are various places to visit in and around the area, including a beautiful walk in rainforest to a waterfall where Hindu carvings from the 9th century are still in perfect form on the floor of the stream and river.


4 Posts

Imaginations, Work the World? Really?! I've heard very little good about them, they are actually the first organization where I looked because the prices were reasonable, but they got horrible reviews from everywhere I looked. The organizations I'm looking at right now are VolunteerHQ, A Broader View, Experiential Learning International, Gracepatt EcoTours, Volunteer Kenya, and Global Crossroads. All of them came highly recommended from a number of people, but they were all recommending from the volunteer point of view and not the community point of view, and as you said those can be quite different (which is one of my primary concerns in making my decision). If you've heard anything good or bad about those organizations I would love some feedback.


8 Posts

Aaomalley, Have you found anything else out about mission trips since this thread was last active? I am particularly interestd in anyone's experience with Gracepatt EcoTours. Do you know people who have gone on the medical volunteer trips with them before? Also would love to hear anyones experience with or knowledge of the other organizations you have researched.


Specializes in Neuro/Med-Surg/Trauma ICU.

This is a great thread! I am also interested I'm doing this for my summer break. Would love to hear some feedback and testimonials, it's overwhelming with so many organizations. Thx for starting this OP!

I would love to know some volunteer work I can do since I'm just a nursing student, not a professional nurse yet. Thanks I'm advance for any recommendations (:



4 Posts

Hi I have just been researching this type of work also and project abroad had a great website - thanks pen


1 Post

I too am wondering if anyone has had any experience with Gracepatt Eco Tours. I am thinking of going this Fall to Kenya. Thanks


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.
I too am wondering if anyone has had any experience with Gracepatt Eco Tours. I am thinking of going this Fall to Kenya. Thanks

A couple of nurses I know have done short stints in Kenya. I think they went with church affiliated groups. The last one to come back said she had a different experience than she had expected. They were placed in government hospitals in cities. The political situation has been a bit unstable, so the government was taking no chances with volunteers. She did get to go to some villages but it just wasn't what she expected.

Maybe NGOs work outside cities but tourists are tourists.