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Costa Rica Medical Volunteering Program

Are you passionate about healthcare and looking for a meaningful way to contribute to communities in need? Have you ever considered volunteering abroad to expand your skills and make a positive impact on global health?

Are you ready to embark on a rewarding journey to Costa Rica, where you can apply your medical expertise to help underserved populations and gain valuable cross-cultural experience?

doctor inspecting medicine

Costa Rica is a popular destination known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and picturesque mountains. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.

Beyond its natural beauty, Costa Rica also offers opportunities for volunteering. You can explore the country's wonders while also contributing to the well-being of its communities.

While Costa Rica has made significant progress in its healthcare system, there are still segments of the population facing barriers to accessing essential medical services. Particularly in rural areas, many people struggle to reach urban centers where healthcare facilities are available. This lack of accessibility disproportionately affects individuals with limited financial means. Additionally, there is a need for increased public education regarding sanitation and health practices, as this can help prevent certain health issues from arising.

IFRE collaborates closely with local healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, to provide essential care to underprivileged patients. By participating in a medical volunteer program in Costa Rica with IFRE, you'll have the opportunity to work alongside these dedicated professionals. Throughout your experience, you'll shadow local doctors and medical staff as they treat patients, allowing you to gain firsthand experience and insights into real-life medical cases. This hands-on learning opportunity not only enriches your understanding of healthcare practices but also empowers you to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need.

Contact IFRE today to learn more about this exceptionally rewarding program.

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Volunteers’ Responsibilities & Impact

As a Medical volunteer in Costa Rica, your main role will involve shadowing and observing medical professionals as they provide care to sick and injured patients. You'll typically work in local clinics, assist in living facilities, HIV centers, rehabilitation centers, or even in ambulance projects. Volunteers generally dedicate 3-4 hours per day, Monday to Friday, with work hours varying depending on the specific project.

Your responsibilities may include assisting with general check-ups, supporting physical therapy sessions, taking vital measurements like blood pressure, organizing patient records, and preparing materials and equipment. Additionally, you might participate in medical campaigns and contribute to healthcare education initiatives in underprivileged communities.

The tasks assigned to you will depend on factors such as your qualifications, skills, education level, the current needs of the project, and your proficiency in Spanish. By lending a hand to Costa Rican doctors and local organizations, you'll be directly impacting the lives of underprivileged patients, offering them improved access to healthcare.

Your volunteer work will not only provide invaluable experience in a medical setting but also help you gain insights and skills relevant to a future career in healthcare. Most importantly, your efforts will contribute to enhancing the well-being of those in need, offering them support, encouragement, and a sense of hope for the future.

Skills and Qualifications:

To participate in our Costa Rica Medical volunteer project, you should have a background in healthcare or education related to the medical field. This can include being a medical student or holding certification as a physician, nurse, EMT, or from a similar accredited institution. Additionally, you'll need to bring along essentials like scrubs, a stethoscope, and closed-toed shoes.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and possess a compassionate attitude towards patients, coupled with a genuine desire to assist them. Flexibility, a positive mindset, and the ability to connect with patients are also important qualities.

While not mandatory, having basic Spanish skills is beneficial since many patients may not speak English. If you're interested in learning or improving your Spanish, we highly recommend enrolling in our Spanish Immersion classes, which are available alongside your volunteer work. This will enhance your medical experience and enable you to communicate more effectively with patients.

Volunteering in this medical project in Costa Rica will be a rewarding experience and your days will be fun and exciting as you learn a great deal from local doctors.

Your hours will vary based on your project placement, so consider this sample schedule just a rough outline to give you an idea of what to expect day to day.

First Day : On your first day of volunteering in a medical project in Costa Rica, you will be brought to your project placement by our passionate in-country coordinator. They will introduce you to the local project staff and give you an informative orientation. You’ll learn about your duties, your schedule, safety protocol, and go over the culture and customs of Costa Rica.

Weekdays : Your medical work begins on the second day, and your schedule is going to vary based on your placement. A typical day might look something like this:

7.00 to 7.30 AM : Start your day off with a traditional Tico breakfast. You’ll probably have gallo pinto, a national favorite made with rice and beans with signature spices and flavors, some eggs, maybe tortillas, fresh juice, and café con leche.

7.45 AM :Travel to your project site. If you’re traveling by local bus, you can do so cheaply but show up early, but don’t be surprised if it’s late, and be prepared to stand if it gets really crowded. Spend a fantastic day as a medical volunteer in Costa Rica!

12.00 PM : Break for lunch. Spend the time chatting with your fellow volunteers and make friends from around the world!

3.00 PM : After volunteering, you’ll have your evenings free to explore.

6.45 PM : Every evening you will have a traditional dinner. Immerse yourself in the local culture, practice your Spanish, and make the most of your time in this fascinating country.

Medical Volunteering Costa Rica:Dates and Fees

Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Volunteers can participate in our program from 1 week up to 12 weeks

Our Fees

Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured, we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fees (US$)

  Duration   Medical/Health Projects
  1 Week   320
  2 Weeks   $640
  3 Weeks   $960
  4 Weeks   $1280
  5 Weeks   $1600
  6 Weeks   $1920
  7 Weeks   $2,240
  8 Weeks   $2,560
  9 Weeks   $ 2,880
  10 Weeks   $ 3,200
  11 Weeks   $ 3,520
  12 Weeks   $ 3,840

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

Spanish Immersion Classes

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica - $150/week

San Jose, Costa Rica - $125/week

Program Fees Cover:

  • Shared Accommodation with host family
  • 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner)
  • Airport Pick up
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Project Management
  • Volunteer Certificate
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

The volunteering in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for any additional expenses.

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Accommodation and Meal

During project days, volunteers will be provided with two meals daily, served in shared group housing. For those seeking more privacy, upgrades to private rooms are offered for an extra charge. Accommodation choices vary from dormitory-style living to upgraded private lodgings. Furthermore, volunteers will have access to educational presentations and hands-on training sessions to familiarize themselves with their assigned responsibilities.

Learn more about IFRE’s accommodations and meals in Costa Rica.

Free Time and Weekends Exploration

Volunteers will dedicate 3-4 hours per day, five days a week, to their volunteering activities, providing them with plenty of time in the mornings, evenings, and weekends to discover the beauty of Costa Rica. Costa Rica offers a captivating cultural experience, boasting numerous attractions such as museums, theaters, live music venues, and diverse dining options.

Discover what to do in your free time in Costa Rica.

Safety and In Country Support

At IFRE, your safety comes first as we want to ensure your volunteer experience abroad is both successful and secure. We guarantee safe housing and match you with a friendly host family who can help you get around the local area. We also partner with trusted organizations, provide health coverage, and have a dedicated in-country team available to support you whenever you need assistance. Your well-being is our main focus throughout your volunteer journey.

Learn more about IFRE’s safety and support while volunteering in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Medical Volunteer Opportunities: FAQs

Arrival and Departure:

You will arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Please provide us with your flight details so we can arrange for your pickup. Our airport representative will greet you at the airport and accompany you to your placement. Please be aware that IFRE does not provide transportation for departure.


It is essential to apply for a tourist visa before your trip. Be sure to research the specific requirements for your home country, as some volunteers may be eligible for an on-arrival visa depending on nationality. Additionally, Costa Rica offers a 90-day visa extension option. For more detailed information, please visit the Immigration website of Costa Rica.


To safeguard your health while traveling abroad, ensure your vaccinations are up to date. We recommend consulting a travel doctor who is knowledgeable about health issues and epidemics in Costa Rica. You can also find vaccination requirements from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Global Health Canada, or Travelers' Health United Kingdom. It is highly recommended to receive all necessary vaccinations before volunteering in our program in Costa Rica. Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines, as well as Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid vaccinations.

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