Costa Rica – Health and Medical Care in San Jose

Volunteer in the vibrant city of San Jose to provide medical care for those in need! This unique program has two placement options- health care and medical care. The healthcare placement is for students of health science, nursing, physical therapy and pre-med. The other, even more hands-on option of medical care, is designed for licensed medical professionals or those in their third or fourth year of medical school.


Program Highlights:

  • Experience the vibrancy of San Jose
  • Gain experience in health care and related fields
  • Enhance your CV with clinical skills
  • Four placement options- health care, physical therapy, dental and medical
  • Add on group or private Spanish language lessons for an additional fee


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum one-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your homestay in San Jose. Spend the day settling in and enjoy the young and vibrant atmosphere of the nation’s capital.

Day 1, Monday: Your host family will accompany you to the project site on your first day of volunteering, where you will receive additional project orientation. After completing this, you will begin your volunteer tasks which will depend on your experience and qualifications, level of Spanish, as well as the needs of the project.

Days 2-5, Tuesday-Friday: Volunteers will work three to four hours per day, on either a morning or afternoon shift, depending on the needs of the program at the time. Specific tasks vary, and depending on placement, previous experience and language skills.

Days 6-7, Saturday-Sunday: Weekends are free for relaxing or exploring.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having Saturday-Sunday free. Departure is on a Saturday.


Location icon Location of the Project: San Jose, Costa Rica

Project length Project length: Min 1 week – Max 1 year

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Patient care, clinical work

Age Age:  18-80

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 10 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: All volunteers must bring some medical supplies- details in your packing list.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms with a host family

Food Food: Breakfast and dinner are provided every day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival

Orientation Orientation: You will receive a general program orientation and a specialized healthcare orientation at the homebase institute in San Jose. There will be an additional project introduction during your first day of volunteer work.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

  • Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, lunches, daily transport to and from project (approx. $5 per day), personal expenses.

Pura vida! This project takes place in the ever-vibrant capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose. Costa Rica is located in Central America, with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The city is located in the Central Valley, so volunteers can reach any coast or border in Costa Rica in just 5-6 hours. Within San Jose; however there is excellent shopping, nightlife, and a great live music scene that shouldn’t be missed.


Both healthcare and medical volunteers may be placed in local hospitals, clinics, elder homes or related institutions.

The healthcare placement is suitable for students of health science, students in nursing school, pre-med students and students in their first two years of medical school. Volunteers in the healthcare placement will focus mainly on providing companionship for patients and tending to their general needs. Healthcare volunteers may partake in conversation therapy or arts and crafts with people with disabilities, distribute medications in an elders home or lead workshops. Volunteers in this placement may also partake in dental or physical therapy placements.

The medical placement is suitable for both licensed medical professionals as well as students in their third or fourth year of medical school. Volunteers in the medical placement may be involved in more tasks such as taking vital signs, updating patient records, shadowing other medical professionals, partaking in medical campaigns and vaccination programs and/or assisting with check-ups and triage.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Providing companionship for patients
  • Distributing medications
  • Assisting with general check-ups
  • Taking vital signs
  • Organizing and updating patient records


Medical professional volunteers are typically placed at local clinic, hospital, ambulance service, or in an assisted living facility. Due to medical laws, professional volunteers are not allowed to practice fully and freely, however your help can greatly benefit the projects still.

Medical professionals can expect to do the following in their placement:
– Work alongside a nurse, doctor, therapist, or other medical professional with consultations
– Do triage, clean wounds, draw blood samples, give sutures and injections
– Provide general care and companionship to patients (talking, feeding, bathing)
– Distribute or sort medicine, teach patients about their medicine
– Clean or prepare materials and equipment, including changing beds
– Assist with administrative work and filing, recording patient data

Please note: Volunteer activities depend on placement, previous experience and training and language skills.

Typical Schedule: Volunteers will work 3-4 hours per day, on either a morning or afternoon shift, Monday-Friday. Schedules are subject to change depending on the current needs of the program.


Holidays: While the project remains open throughout the year, activities and volunteer schedules may vary on the holidays. For specific dates, please consult with our placement coordinators.

Christmas Week
Program Dates: Monday 23-Dec to Friday 27-Dec
Housing Dates: Sunday 22-Dec to Saturday 28-Dec

New Years Eve Week
Program Dates: Monday 30-Dec to Friday 03-Jan
Housing Dates: Sunday 29-Dec to Saturday 04-Jan

Please note, our institutes will be closed on December 25th and January 1st, there will be no project placements available during these days either. Both of these would be 4 day volunteer programs, instead of the usual 5 days.

Internet icon Internet: Internet is available at the institute in San Jose.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry is available for an additional fee at host families or at local laundromats (called lavanderias.)

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers with will stay in shared, single-gender rooms with a host family. Rooms accommodate up to four volunteers. Couples may request a private room with the host family.

Food icon Food: Breakfast and dinner are provided every day. Certain diets can be accommodated if notice is given in advance.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Police clearance
  • For the health care placement, volunteers must be pre-med, nursing or health science students
  • For the dentistry and physical therapy placements, volunteers must be at least pre-med students
  • For the medical placement, volunteers must be licensed medical professionals or those in their third or fourth year of medical school and provide proof of medical education, training, certifications and licenses
  • Must be flexible and open-minded
  • Good level of physical fitness

Consider joining one or more of these specialized program add-ons to add another dimension to your volunteer and travel experience in Costa Rica:

Spanish Language Immersion – 1 to 24 weeks of Spanish language lessons in small group or private classes

Surf School – Five-day surf school at the beautiful Manuel Antonio beach

Scuba Diving Certification – Four-day PADI diving certification

Mini Adventure—Catch the best highlights of Costa Rica on this week-long tour including Costa Rica Cultural Night, Volcano tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Coffee Farm tour and Catamaran tour to Tortuga Island.

Please note that there is an additional fee for these programs. Prices available upon request.

Volunteer Experiences

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