Our goal is to allow those in our partner communities to benefit from a physical exam and treatment from a licensed medical professional while providing experiential learning opportunities and cultural expansion for pre-health students.

Global Health Service Learning Programs

ISL’s global health service learning programs are first and foremost community and patient-focused and are designed with the premise of allowing pre-health students the opportunity to work directly with community member patients. They are interdisciplinary in nature and provide a variety of general medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, healthcare management, and nutrition services to members of developing communities. From urban centers to small towns and villages in remote areas, our programs work in various settings to provide field clinics in which patient needs are assessed and acute conditions are treated.

Regardless of background, volunteers are able to receive an invaluable opportunity to not only interactively observe health professionals in action, but to actively assist with important aspects of health care under careful supervision.

Our holistic approach makes ISL’s global health programs ideal for students studying any health profession at any education level.

Who is Right for Global Health Programs

ISL’s global health programs are ideal for pre-health students interested in medicine, nursing, public health, pharmacy, nutrition, or health care management.

What to Expect

Upon arrival in-country, you will be met at the airport by ISL staff. Your groups first day will be busy with cultural orientation and intensive training seminars learning how to take vitals, basic triage techniques, and learning medical terminology (Spanish or Swahili); then the community work begins!

On a global health program, you will work in our partner communities in the following ways:

  • Visit homes to assess the needs for health care
  • Evaluate living conditions making connections between lifestyle and health issues
  • Bring/distribute educational materials
  • You will invite those in need of medical care to a field clinic staffed by local, licensed medical professionals. At the clinic, you will rotate through stations taking turns doing the following:
    • Conducting patient interviews/intake
    • Observing the physician (diagnosis and treatment)
    • Set up and participate in pharmacy stations
    • Play with the community children!

Be aware: there will be virtually NO down-time during your ISL program. This is an immersive, intensive experience loaded with service activities and cultural exploration!

In the evenings, you will participate in seminars on prevention and treatment of diseases common to the area and practice techniques such as suturing and administering injections.

There will also be designated time for group reflection – time to discuss and express what you’ve experienced in your day’s community work, either formally or informally.

Your group will eat most dinners out in order to relax and experience the local culture and cuisine. You will learn a few traditional dances and explore some important historical/cultural sites.

Recreational opportunities vary by location, but you will have opportunities like: shopping for local crafts and exploring geographic treasures such as beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, or caves. Traverse ruins, tour city centers, or trek through coffee plantations, and have time for other  exciting activities such as ziplining, snorkeling, or safari!

Volunteer Involvement

Pre-health students will receive intensive training on taking vitals, basic triage and sorting medications. In the clinical setting you will be able to participate only under the supervision of a local licensed professional. You will be allowed to take vitals, conduct patient intake, observe the examination, diagnosis and treatment of community patients as well as help to distribute medications.

ISL collaborates with in-country professionals and local Ministries of Health in order to determine how our volunteers can best impact developing communities. Level of volunteer participation is directly dependent on level of training. For example, each group has the potential for three levels of volunteer involvement: observer, assistant, and practitioner. Pre-health volunteers would fall into the “observer” category in terms of the examination/diagnosis/treatment process, but would be allowed hands on experience with non-invasive procedures such as taking vitals, as determined by local Ministry of Health standards, while a med student might assist in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment process to the degree determined appropriate by local Ministry of Health standards.

You may choose NOT to participate in any aspect of patient care with which you are uncomfortable.

Safety and Respect

Respect of our patients

Patient consent is an essential pre-requisite for any level of volunteer participation.  All patients sign a consent form to be seen by a doctor with students observing – we have their complicit consent to treat prior to their intake and examination.

Our patients are protected from exploitation – we are discreet and respectful. We do NOT under any circumstances take photo of any procedure during a patient’s visit. Furthermore, patient rights must be respected at all times; Patients have the right to refuse treatment.

ISL prohibits discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, religion or any other factor.

Volunteer Safety

For the sake of security, ISL volunteers remain together as a group from arrival to departure, and are accompanied by ISL staff at all times.

The safety of our volunteers is our number one priority. ISL has offices in all of the countries that we serve. That means wherever you go, rest assured, we’re there too. All ISL regional staff members are thoroughly screened to ensure the safety of your team’s local interactions and we continuously monitor and address all emerging health and safety issues in each of the countries we operate.

Specific precautions taken by ISL:

  • ISL groups avoid large, crowded areas like sporting events whenever possible
  • We continuously monitor local media and information sources in each of our countries through our on-site staff, and take appropriate actions to avoid areas of concern
  • Our on-site staff provide feedback on the local situation in each community we work, and if recommendations are made to change itineraries or programming, we do so immediately
  • Our management team relies on the advice of a number of organizations including the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as an international safety and security organization. If conditions exist that may hinder our ability to provide a safe program, we will alter the itinerary and redirect the program to safer regions or provide other alternatives.

What To Bring

You will need:

  • Stethoscope
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Otoscope
  • Scrubs
  • Donations of medications
  • Medical supplies (optional)
  • Refillable water bottle (i.e. Nalgene bottle)
  • Funds sufficient to cover one meal per day, recreation, incidentals, souvenirs and departure tax (where applicable).
  • An open mind
  • A sense of adventure
  • A heart of service

What ISL Provides

  • 24-hour accompaniment by professional, bilingual staff
  • Airport pickup/drop off
  • All ground transportation
  • All lodging
  • Two meals per day
  • Drinking water
  • Instruction by licensed medical professionals
  • Medications and supplies
  • Quality experiential learning
  • A meaningful glimpse into another culture
  • An unforgettable adventure