Support, Improve, and Learn About Local Hospital Services!
Do you have a genuine interest in nursing or medicine? Are you a medical practitioner that is looking to share your expertise with a developing country? Then take this fantastic opportunity to live and work in the fascinatingly diverse country of Colombia, filled with incredibly welcoming people and stunning landscapes, and help to continue its ongoing and rapid social, economic, and cultural development.
This project is part of our Colombia Volunteer Circle, in which you can combine up to seven projects located in the same region into one comprehensive program.
€ 1199,00 – first month
€ 1149,00 – second month
HELP TO PROVIDE QUALITY HEALTHCARE WHILST EXPLORING THE RURAL BEAUTY OF COLOMBIA!
- Accommodation and three meals a day.
- Pickup and transport from airport.
- Pre-arrival welcome pack.
- Welcome Dinner.
- Complimentary t-shirt.
- 24 hour support.
Colombia’s public healthcare system is generally poor. Although it is available to those with with little or no income, it does not offer a comprehensive list of services, nor does it generally provide specialists or surgical procedures. The private healthcare which many people pay for, although providing a full range of services and procedures, is very much overused and often collapses because of this. For those lucky few who can afford it, there is a higher level of private care which offers a consistently good service – and those individuals who are part of this type of healthcare are often prioritized by medical staff and services.
The hospital in which you shall work serves one entire municipality of Colombia, and offers a basic A and E department; an inpatient and outpatient service; an operating theater; a small gynaecological unit; and a dental clinic. Although this seems like a good range of services, it must be remembered that this one center has to provide for around 32,000 patients (receiving 200-300 a day) with limited surgical materials, and that the hospital is often understaffed. In fact, the A and E department does not even comply with basic national standards and regulations. If complex operations or medical tests are needed people have to travel to the nearest cities (such as Bogotá and Girardot), which costs them a lot of money and time, not to mention the fact that they sometimes have to leave small children, elderly relatives, or their farms alone and unsupported for days or weeks at a time. Very often poorer people decide not to pursue modern medical treatments, therefore, as they do not have the financial resources nor the familial support to do so.
The hospital needs more people on the ground, better funding, and better resources to improve the quality of care it can provide. It is hoped that once this has been achieved more people will be encouraged to use the service, and so the level of general health will improve throughout the region.
Short-term plans: To help improve the outpatients service in order to provide better customer service and decrease waiting times. To organize more mobile health units that can travel to poor communities and treat them in their own homes. To achieve the latter we need volunteers with experience and skills in paediatrics, nutrition, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, dentistry, analyzing X-ray readers, and nursing.
Long-term plans: To assist in the new construction plans for the hospital. At the moment the hospital is working on proposals to build a new A and E department, a new operations ward and a new gynaecology ward. They already have funds for the A and E ward; however, advice about how to create the best hospital environment and become efficient in terms of technology and service from volunteers with experience and knowledge in these matters would be very useful. They have not yet found the funds for the new operations and gynaecology wards, so volunteers with skills in construction will also be very useful. Any volunteer donations will go to this project.
Your duties will be dependent upon the medical experience and training you have, but here is an idea of the things you will be required to do:
- Working on reception in the outpatient ward to decrease waiting times – this will include taking phone calls, dealing with patient enquiries, maintaining patient records and liaising with the medical staff.
- Assisting doctors on their rounds.
- Performing basic procedures such as: taking patient temperatures, heart rates, and heights and weights; cleaning and dressing wounds; and assisting in vaccination procedures (specific tasks dependent on medical experience).
- Assisting in basic dental procedures (if trained in dentistry).
- Maintaining hospital records and filling out medical forms.
- Feeding patients and general daily care.
- Cleaning medical equipment.
- Helping with postnatal care (such as assistance with breastfeeding).
- Maintaining the standard of cleanliness in the hospital.
- Educating the local community about good health and hygiene practices.
- Helping to organize and participating in mobile health units which can provide homecare.
- Reporting to your assigned doctor or nurse on a daily basis.
- Keeping a diary for NGO Taxi and participating in weekly meetings.
The exact tasks you will be asked to carry out will depend on the current needs and priorities of the project as determined by the project organizer and NGO Taxi management. The tasks stated here are therefore examples of some of the possible types of activities you will be asked to do.
Please note that the hospital currently has particular need of MEDICAL INTERNS, NURSES, AND OPHTHALMOLOGISTS.
You will work within the existing hospital shifts, which means that you will almost certainly work between the hours of 7am – 1pm from Monday to Friday.
Your project is located in a large town two hours from Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, and only thirty minutes by bus from the village where your accommodation is. The town has shops, internet cafes, restaurants, ATMs, and night life.
Buses from the village where you will be staying to the town where you will be working leave frequently throughout the day and cost around COP $2500 per trip, taking about 30 minutes (not included in the project fee). There are also plenty of taxis (including mototaxis). In all cases the project organizer can offer their own transport, a car for a total of 5 people, for a small fee. There are also very frequent buses to Bogotá, run by a handful of companies, and to several nearby towns and villages.
Accommodation and Food
You will stay in the house of the project organizer. The area is fairly rural but all basic amenities are available. The house is split into two, with the project organizer and their family living in the main house and the volunteers sharing the bungalow (which includes 2 bathrooms). There is also a garden and outside sitting/dining area. If there are more than 4 volunteers private rooms will not be available.
The internet can be very slow, although if you need to you can take the short bus ride into town to use the internet cafes there.
You will be provided with 3 meals a day from Monday to Friday. On a Saturday you will be given 2 meals (all of these meals are shared with the family), although none will be provided on a Sunday. . The project organizer is very happy to provide for any special dietary requirements (vegetarians and vegans, celiacs, any allergies or intolerances, etc.) if advised before you arrive. You are welcome to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals, as long as you keep it clean and tidy, or to eat in the restaurants in the village or town. If you choose to eat any meals not provided by the project organizer these will be at your own cost.
In general, all that is required of you is to be enthusiastic, willing, and prepared to learn new skills, displaying a hardworking attitude and respect towards the local community and those you will be living and working with.
Of course, any formal training in medicine/nursing or work experience in the same is needed to really get the best out of this project and give the most back. At the least we ask that you have a sincere interest in and enthusiasm for a life working in medicine. This is a fantastic project for those considering a career in healthcare to get some first-hand experience of what working in a hospital really entails! Likewise, it is an extremely rewarding project for those already medically trained and wanting to really help improve the standard of healthcare in a developing country. A kind and professional bedside and reception manner is also required.
Generally, you should be ready to respond to changes and be able to deal with the unexpected for any work or travel in South America. For this program in particular, you should be willing to live and work in areas where the standard of living is much lower than that in the EU or US.
You must have at least a conversational level of Spanish for all of these projects, as few local people speak any more than basic English, if any English at all. However, the project organizer has a very good level of English, having lived in England for several years, and can help you if you have any problems. Having said that, there would be little point in volunteering in another country if you could not communicate with the people you live and work with. After all, the better the Spanish you speak or learn before you arrive the more you can bring of yourself to the project, the more you can communicate and understand, and the more you will get out of your volunteering experience. In any case, you will be amazed how much Spanish you will learn by simply living and working in another country. We can help you with this! We offer a wide array courses suited to your level, including specialized courses, for as many course weeks as you require. Please see http://ngotaxi.org/language-course/ for more information.
Additional Information and Specials
Length of Stay:
At least one week.
Every Monday (arrive on the Sunday).
It is absolutely necessary that you have current immunizations. This includes, among others: yellow fever (certified), tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, and rabies. You’ll receive exact information pertaining to immunizations needed in Colombia, as well as your personal preliminary documentation following your successful application with us.
You can inquire in advance concerning immunization requirements by consulting medical authorities in your country of origin, e.g. in the US, check with the Centers for Disease Control and Protection
- Accommodation including bedding.
- Three meals a day.
- Pickup and transport from airport.
- Pre-arrival welcome pack.
- Welcome Dinner.
- FREE NGO Taxi t-shirt.
- 24 hour support.
- Certificate of successful volunteer participation on your project.
- Daily transport to and from your project site.
- Weekend or non-organized activities.
- Snacks and non-mealtime drinks.
- Travel insurance.
- Personal spending.
- Any additional items not listed in the ‘Included Services’ list.
In general, you must bear in mind that you will be representing NGO Taxi to communities and project partners and are therefore required to demonstrate a professional attitude. Lightweight long sleeves and trousers are recommended for the area, as it can get very hot and there are mosquitoes.
You will be given a lightweight uniform upon arrival. Please keep this clean and presentable, wear your hair up, keep your nails short and unpolished, and remove all piercings and jewellery. This is for biosecurity reasons – we want to keep the hospital clean and sanitary – and to set a good professional standard.
You will need to provide a criminal background check, medical records, proof of travel and medical insurance and any professional certificates or proof of vocational qualifications that you may have.
During this program, you will be in contact with a lot of people. However, you might also be the only volunteer working with local staff at times, so be prepared for variety in the people you will meet and work with.
Free Time Activities
NGO Taxi provides tours in other areas of Colombia, such as the Lost City trek or a trip to Punta Gallinas. Sounds like the thing for you? Then take a look at our page http://ngotaxi.org/tours/ for more information!
And if you want to explore this fascinating and diverse country on your own, may we suggest…
- Joining a graffiti tour in Bogotá, one of South America’s graffiti hotspots, and learning some fascinating facts about this hugely diverse and socially expressive art form (highly recommended!).
- Visiting the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquirá.
- Taking a trip to the beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva.
- Experiencing the famous nightlife of Medellín and Bogotá.
- Testing your moves on the dance floor in the Colombian, possibly even South American, capital of salsa: the city of Cali.
- Staying on a coffee finca in La Zona Cafetería.
- Seeing some of the amazing archaeological remains of San Agustin and Tierradentro.
- Hiking in the glorious Tayrona national park.
- Watching the famous Barranquilla carnival.
- Exploring the Caribbean coast, including a day trip to Las Islas Rosarios off the coast of Cartagena.
- Meeting indigenous communities or taking a survival training course in the Amazon.