Volunteer in an Ecuadorian hospital, gaining invaluable medical experience

  • Volunteer abroad in a hospital, gaining experience of numerous hospital departments
  • Combine with a rural hospital placement for long term volunteers
  • Receive basic medical training as part of your volunteer medical placement
  • Suitable for medical students and qualified medical practitioners

Project summary

This volunteering opportunity is based in a large, busy, modern hospital in central Quito. Although it addresses the needs of poor communities there is nothing ‘third world’ about the hospital.

In addition to treating patients it is used as a teaching centre. Medical treatment is provided free of charge but medication has to be paid for by the patients. There are numerous departments, including cardiology, neurology, paediatrics, emergencies, obstetrics, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and family planning. Volunteers would normally spend two or three weeks in five or six different departments unless you have a particular area of interest.

This is a volunteer project for nursing and medical students wishing to gain experience of working in a hospital. International volunteers provide extra capacity for general nursing duties and are welcomed for the added dimension they bring to the work environment.

Volunteers with professional medical and healthcare qualifications may be able to provide more direct services.

Volunteers staying for three or more months would have the option of moving to another hospital on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, where they would gain further experience of a more rural hospital, dealing with ailments associated with the area.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

The Ecuadorian doctors and nurses are well trained but often very busy. Volunteers can offer support by helping with some of the routine duties such as changing of beds, but also keeping records of patients, weighing, measuring, taking blood pressure and temperatures and assisting with general check-ups.

The emphasis of volunteer support is on patient care rather than medical procedures but most volunteers are pleasantly surprised at the level of responsibilities they are engaged in. Your exact role would depend upon your experience and relationship with the senior doctors and medical staff, and your ability to demonstrate that you are reliable and focused.

Depending on your abilities and interests you may also be asked to carry out ‘nursing’ duties, such as removing stitches. The staff will train volunteers with no experience and show you more technical skills, such as how to give injections, insert drips, methods of sterilisation and a range of important skills associated with being a medic.

How you can make a difference

The hospital necessarily functions without volunteers but like most hospitals serving poorer communities around the world, it has lower staff ratios. The nursing support provided by international volunteers is a genuine benefit to both the staff and patients of the hospital.

Volunteers with specialist professional qualifications may provide additional capacity and expertise in under-resourced areas.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is an unusual opportunity to gain real hands on medical experience in a well organised hospital. For long term volunteers the opportunity to then move to a hospital near the Amazon provides an additional experience, dealing with conditions reflecting the rural, indigenous community.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is a well-established project within a professional working environment. There is an appointed person who manages volunteers’ placements internally and it is important that volunteers demonstrate an ongoing commitment and focus to their placement.

Subject to availability, a one week medical course can be included at the start of a volunteer placement, to help inexperienced volunteers learn basic healthcare procedures.


Unsurprisingly the hospital works all year round.


Working in the hospital with a high level of interaction with local staff requires volunteers to have an intermediate level of Spanish, although this can be boosted by the lessons included.

Experience required:

This project is suited to those volunteers who are medical students, part or newly qualified medical staff, or those with no current experience but with serious ambitions to go into healthcare.

Working in a hospital means you will be exposed to a variety of medical conditions and so you should be confident in your ability to work in a variety of situations.

Good to know:

The hospital is open from 07:00 – 21:00, but your shifts typically start early and finish early afternoon. Located in central Quito and working alongside other international volunteers you will be sure to make friends and contacts to enjoy the best that Ecuador has to offer.

Price table

8 weeks10 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal, excursion. Two weeks of good quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations.
Extras: An additional surcharge of £100 will apply to volunteers working in two hospitals

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.

About Ecuador