Medical Volunteer with Casa-Nica


  • Be a part of Casa-Nica learning Spanish and learning about living in a Latin American country
  • Develop relationships with local organizations and make an impact in the community
  • Work alongside medical professionals and gain new skills
  • Get opportunities to learn about the local culture and Spanish language


Casa-Nica currently has a volunteer and intern program working with the municipal health authority in Masaya, Nicaragua. We are currently working in three locations: the Centro de Salud clinic, the Humberto Alvarado Hospital, and CIPO clinic. The first two locations offer free medical service to Nicaraguans and generally have a lot of patients and always welcome any help that you can offer as they are understaffed and overworked. The third location offers low cost medical treatment by a local NGO. They see different and varied health problems so working in these places will provide you a wide range of experience and new skills.

As a volunteer or intern you will be working directly with the doctors and staff at the medical facilities. Your role will be to support the medical staff in their daily duties. This can happen through the observation, assisting or even completion of various medical procedures. These procedures are usually conducted by the doctor so when you take these from the doctor you will ease the workload of the doctors enabling them to give a more thorough patient exam and see more patients. While we do this, the doctors take time to teach us about what they are doing, what they are seeing, and what they are prescribing. In essence, we are taking a large load of work off their shoulders so they can be a bit more thorough in their exams with patients and can tend to other things.

Please note, we cannot guarantee that the volunteer will undertake procedures as we are not in direct control of what happens on site. However, in our experience volunteers have always been invited to conduct hands on procedures and watch surgeries, etc. However, if you are a fully trained doctor and speak good Spanish you will even be given your own patient load if you would like it.

Centro de Salud:

The first medical facility that we work with is the Centro de Salud in Masaya, the first stage of medical care for those living in Masaya. Patients come in with a range of non-life-threatening problems, from respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, chronic health problems (such as diabetes or hypertension), and for maternity health check-ups. We work directly with the attending doctors there, acting as their nurses providing the initial examination recording height, weight, blood pressure, etc. As the doctors gain confidence in the volunteers, they will start to feel comfortable letting us do more advanced procedures. This includes taking vitals (height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc.), writing out prescriptions, listening to lungs for any abnormalities, measuring the size of the uterus of a pregnant mother, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. There are many doctors in the clinic, so the option is open to find one, or several who you like best, and work with them. It is very interesting to see the different styles of doctoring of each doctor and learn something new from each. While you are working with the doctors they always take time to teach you about what they are doing, what they are seeing, and what they are prescribing. You will help them immensely by taking a large load of work off their shoulders so they can be a bit more thorough in their exams with patients and can tend to other things.

Humberto Alvarado Hospital:

The second place we work is the public hospital in Masaya, specifically in the emergency room. Here you will see an even wider range of medical issues that are far more serious than at the Centro de Salud. Your daily tasks will include taking vitals for patients who want to be seen by a doctor, similar to what we do at the Centro de Salud. However, at the hospital the doctors allow us to do much more in terms of practical medical procedures. We watch all kinds of emergency procedures such as catheterization, wound suturing, casting, and IV medication. You will also have the opportunity to see various other procedures such as surgeries and births, timing and luck permitting, of course. The hospital allows a very hands-on practical introduction to life working in a hospital in which you will constantly see and learn about new things.

CIPO clinic:

The final location is the CIPO clinic run by a local NGO. This facility provides low cost medial treatment to women as it specializes in women's health issues. As a result there are such procedures as mammograms, pap smears, etc. that take place and which the volunteers have done themselves. This location has some English speaking staff so it is where we will place volunteers with limited or no Spanish.

Both the Centro de Salud, the hospital, and CIPO operate a morning and evening shift system so it is possible to work in both locations in a single day or concentrate your time on the location which you prefer.

Aside from the hands-on experience, we get a very good look at what life as a doctor can be like in a variety of settings, from general and family practice to surgery and emergency. If you are a doctor looking to assist in a developing country's municipal medical system this is an outstanding opportunity. For a premed looking to explore the world of medicine before applying to medical school, it would provide very interesting and insight and invaluable experience.

Unlike the rest of our volunteer programs the medical program takes place in clinics and hospitals where a high level of trust is required between the medical professionals and volunteers before they can allow the volunteer to participate fully. This takes time to establish and therefore any shorter time will not allow for a full experience in this program.

You should be able to speak a basic conversational Spanish, as everything will be conducted in Spanish, and a higher level of Spanish allows for more communication between volunteers and medical staff. Practising medical Spanish (e.g. body parts, names of basic equipment, basic procedures, etc.) would be excellent preparation. We cannot place volunteers in the Hospital with anything other than intermediate Spanish or higher, as there are no English speaking Doctors working there.

Medical Skills:

You will not be required to have medical skills, at least at the beginning, other than measuring height and weight, taking blood pressure and taking a pulse rate. However, volunteers should have an open mind and feel comfortable in a medical setting. You will learn and have the opportunity to practice more as you gain experience and the confidence of the doctors.

Write a Review