Tuesday, April 29, 2014

International Volunteer Opportunities and Missionaries for Physician Assistants

International Volunteer Opportunities and Missionaries for Physician Assistants

Whether you’re a pre-PA, a PA student, or a professional PA looking for international volunteer opportunities or mission trips to enhance your global impact, look no further! In this post, you’ll find a variety of resources to get you started on planning your trip and even links to places you may have never heard of before. If you have any resources or comments to contribute to this posting, please leave them in the comments section below and I’d be happy to include any and all changes or additions.

First off, I’ll start by directing your attention to AAPAs “Before You Go--Preparing for International Practice.” This is not only useful, but essential on so many levels! You’ll find links for researching the country you’ll visit, passport information, visa information, insurance, immunizations, physician supervision, guidelines for working internationally, and much more!

Now, let me direct your attention to AAPAs International Volunteer Opportunities page, where you’ll find out:
  • What you need to know before making a trip
  • The “Before You Go” checklist of travel information and questions to ask before accepting a volunteer position - found above
  • A list of volunteer databases (given by AAPA) known to accept physician assistants including, but not limited to:

In addition, the International Practice guide lists guidelines for international licensure, liability coverage, and transporting medical supplies that may be helpful.

A list of International PA Caucuses involved in the delivery of international healthcare are:

A list of Non-AAPA resources involved in the delivery of international healthcare are:

The ABCs of Medical Volunteering and Mission Trips
While most of the ABCs of Medical Volunteering and Mission Trips were adopted from the longer, less updated version of the International Medical Volunteers Association’s list, this list only includes those listed as accepting physician assistants into their programs. Additionally, I’ve updated links for programs that have changed their websites, removed programs that no longer exist, and added a few others from other resources (PAFGH, etc) you’ll find in the sources section. This list is by no means all inclusive. If you have any to add, please post them in the comments section below and I’d be happy to include them! Thanks.

You can use search this listing for a country or region of the world you are interested in by clicking and holding “Control + F” on PC or “Command + F” on Mac. They are listed by the countries of opportunities available.
    • Kenya
    • Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda
    • Peru
    • 2-3 weeks
  • American Jewish World Service - dedicated to development and disaster relief; focus on public health and direct service
    • Belize, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Zimbabwe
  • American Refugee Committee - provides primary health care and training to refugees and internally displaced persons. They provide a monthly stipend, round-trip transportation, medical insurance and group housing. Overseas positions require professional experience and experience working in developing countries.
    • Bosnia, Croatia, Cambodia, Guinea, Rwanda, Sudan, Thailand
  • Cape Cares - has adopted several communities (3) in Honduras and sends teams of 25-75 to these communities 6 times a year.
    • Honduras
    • Brazil
    • Honduras
  • Casa Clinica de la Mujer - Casa Clinic program is great to improve your Spanish language skills while providing primary care.
    • Mexico
  • Catholic Medical Mission Board - volunteers do not have to be catholic, but must abide by ethical code of Catholic Church; if you volunteer more than one year, you receive a stipend;
    • Brazil, Cameroon, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Papua-New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Nigeria, St. Lucia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia
  • Child Family Health International - helps organize homestays in host countries, language classes for those who need them and airport pickup on arrival; mobile surgical van in the Andes; Ecuadorian Amazon Health Project;
    • Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, México, India, South Africa, Uganda
    • 4-week structures, but programs last 5,6,7, or 8 weeks
  • Children’s Cross Connection, International - provides both primary medical and dental care to rural areas of Ethiopia and El Salvador through mobile medical dental teams as well as surgical support for long term teaching projects within developing countries.
    • Ethiopia, El Salvador
    • Afghanistan, Belize, Benin, Brazil, China, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia
    • Haiti
  • Concern America - CONCERN/America assists impoverished communities and refugees in developing countries in their efforts to improve their living conditions. CONCERN/America programs emphasize training of community members in order to impart skills and knowledge which remain with the community long after the volunteer is gone
    • El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Mozambique
    • Dominican Republic, Niger, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan
  • Curamericas - designed to strengthen the local programs' human resource capabilities and provide US health care professionals with an opportunity to broaden their public health and medical experience
    • Bolivia and Guatemala
  • DePaw University Winter Term in Service - The medical team, or public health team, provides basic health care services to locals, including primary care clinics and public health education
    • Paraguay, Ghana, Ecuador, Jamaica, and South Carolina. Sites are subject to change.
    • Mexico, El Salvador, Europe, Guatemala, Uganda
    • Must be Spanish-speaking
    • Must commit 3-12 months
  • Doctors of the World - DOW sends several dozen volunteers into war-torn or disaster-stricken regions of the world every year. Must be US state licensed and board certified. MPH frequently needed.
    • Russia, Kosovo, Mexico, South Africa
  • EAUMF Medical Volunteer Program - Our focus is on manpower augmentation to local health professionals, continuing education, maternal and child health, mental health, prevention, and health education for HIV/AIDS in the KEEA district.
    • Ghana, West Africa
  • ELG FZE (Exploration Logistics) - Places PAs worldwide to serve as medical support for various expeditions.
    • Worldwide (54 countries, but need varies)
  • FAME (Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism)
    • Albania, Brazil, D.R., Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Nic, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines,  Thailand, Ukraine, Zaire
    • Mexico, Guatemala, Romania and Nicaragua
  • FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children)
    • Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Uganda, India
    • Panama, Honduras, Peru, Jordan & Israel, Bolivia
    • Baja California, Mexico
  • Friends Without a Border - train Cambodian staff
    • Cambodia
  • INMED - Clinica Evangelica Morava - Volunteer pay is $8/day. Volunteers staying several months may be able to arrange some stipend. Urgently need volunteers and may be accepted without knowledge of Spanish.
    • Ahuas, Honduras
    • Knowledge of Spanish language not required
    • Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
    • Uganda
  • International Medical Corps - IMC dispenses teams of highly qualified doctors, nurses, physician assistants and support staff to help rebuild healthcare systems and restore self-sufficiency and independence to regions where few relief organizations serve
    • Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, The Balkans, Burundi, East Timor, Eritrea, Georgia, Indonesia, Ingushetia, Kenya, Kosovo, Pakistan, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan
    • Ethiopia, India, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Kenya, Thailand, Myanmar, Uganda, Indonesia, Haiti
    • Costs range from $2,400-$5,450
  • International Medical Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT) - a trained team of medical specialist and support personnel whose primary mission is to provide the full spectrum of surgical specialty care, non-operative and operative, especially in an austere environment.
    • Must hold current licensure
    • Ongoing quarterly training and one 3-5 day training event every other year
  • International Service Learning - ISL’s General Medical teams are multidisciplinary, incorporating medical, nursing, pharmacy, optometry (on larger teams), and public health components. Because this approach allows volunteers to view different facets of health care, it offers a truly holistic approach to patient treatment. General Medical teams serve both in urban settings and also travel to small towns and villages in ‘outback’ areas to set up field clinics, where patients are assessed and treated.
    • Mexico (Cancun), Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru
    • Cost: About $2,000
  • International Relief Teams - Mobilizes medical and non-medical volunteers to aid victims of disaster, poverty and neglect worldwide
    • Beqa Island, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, US & worldwide disasters
    • Argentina, Bali, Costa Rica
    • Short term (10 day) mission trips with 2 full days of Safari included
    • Includes all meals, accommodations, ground transport
    • You pay for airfare, plus trip cost of $1,700
  • Lalmba Association - Lalmba (La-lum-ba) is one of the world's smallest international development agencies. Its focus is primary care health projects in Africa, but additional projects include children's homes, schools, orphanages and education programs. Lalmba currently operates medical projects in Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea and has a children's home in Mexico.
    • Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya
    • Must stay for at least one year or more.
  • LIGA International - Volunteers are flown in small privately-owned aircraft from California to treat the rural poor of Northern Mexico. Trips leave the first Friday of each month, October through June, and return on Sunday. Volunteer participates as often or as little as he/she wishes. After clinic work is over, there is time for the volunteer to relax, swim and enjoy the companionship of other volunteers.
    • Mexico
    • Haiti, Bahamas
    • Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, El Salvador, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Venezuela
    • Does NOT accept physician assistants, although the IMVA claims on their website that they do.
    • Does MSF recruit Physician Assistants?
    • No. The traditional Physician Assistant role of primary health care provider is done by the national staff in the field. However, Physician Assistants with extensive international NGO experience can still be considered for coordinator level positions. See action more recently.
    • Albania, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, West Bank, Zambia
    • Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Benin, Romania, Rwanda, Swaziland, Thailand, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zaire, Zimbabwe
    • Haiti
    • Cost: $900 (not including airfare)
    • West Africa, Caribbean, Central America
    • Mexico
    • Guatemala and Ecuador
  • Mountain Medics International - Mountain Medics is a US-based, volunteer- staffed, non profit organization aiming to improve the health and quality of life of developing mountain communities around the world
    • Peru
    • Cost: $2295
    • Cambodia, Myanmar, Bolivia, Philippines, Rwanda, Morocco, Madagascar, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, China, Colombia, Peru, Ethiopia, Mozambique
  • Partner for Surgery - Partner for Surgery serves as a bridge between patients in need of surgical care in remote communities and the international volunteer triage and surgical teams that come to Guatemala to help the impoverished. Additionally, they educate and empower rural Guatemalans to initiate and advocate for vital health care services on their own behalf.
    • Guatemala
    • Cost $1,200
    • Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, C.R., D.R., Ecuador, El Salvador, Guat, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Nic, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
    • Haiti
    • Africa, Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East
    • Albania, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Thailand, Tibet, Turkey
  • PRAY (Project Rescue of Amazon Youth)
    • Brazil
    • Brazil
    • Ecuador, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Trip costs range from $2,500-$4,250 and include: airfare, accommodations, meals, ground transportation, travel visa, and insurance.
    • Peru, West Africa, Central Africa
  • Project Medishare - Project Medishare continues to recruit Medical volunteers to mentor and train Haitian medical staff and provide patient care at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
    • Haiti
    • Minimum one week commitment
    • US based programs, floating health care clinics, land based island nation programs
      • Tonga
    • Assignments from 2 weeks to 6 months
    • Rotations available March 31 - October 25
    • Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zaire, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanz, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana; Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Guam; Mex., Haiti, Dom.Rep., Trinidad, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
    • St. Lucia



  1. I am considering a PA so I can go overseas at age 55. I have an AS and about to enter Texas A&M Texarkana. I speak a modicum of Spanish yet good with languages. Any advice (my education is free through the military).

    1. If you already have healthcare experience and shadowing experience, I think you could apply to most programs and have a solid chance as long as you do well in your coursework and on the GRE (if necessary).


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