Become a Global Health Volunteer in Costa Rica

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About

FIMRC's Project Alajuelita, located about 30 minutes from the capital, San Jose, brings medical care to rural areas of Costa Rica. The centrally located clinic serves as FIMRC's base within the community where primary care and psychological services are provided to patients of all ages.

Volunteers maintain important roles in the clinic through assisting with charting patients’ vitals, inputting patient data into our electronic record systems, building health based curricula on various topics, and observing clinical interactions with medical staff. Outside FIMRC’s clinic, volunteers will have the opportunity to work on health initiatives in a soup kitchen located in the underserved areas of Alajuelita where children play in safety and receive hot meals daily. No previous medical experience is required!

FIMRC is proud to be a grassroots sustainable organization. Volunteer with FIMRC and make an impact with an organization that's working in the community even long after your trip!

Flexible Booking Options & Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

We allow flexible booking options as well as virtual volunteer opportunities!

Questions & Answers

Volunteering for this medical trip I knew little Spanish. You do not have to know how to speak Spanish to volunteer with FIMRC. They really express that all people will all levels of Spanish are welcome. Translators were provided for all of the volunteers.

Hi Claire, Of course! We are glad to have volunteers in Costa Rica of all ages! -The FIMRC Team

Reviews

9.5 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 8.2
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 12
Brock Willett
Brock
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thankful

Hello, my name is Brock Willett and I am a senior nursing student at Oakland University. This summer I was able to attend one of FIMRC’s amazing locations, Costa Rica. This was not my first trip with FIMRC, but it was by far my favorite. The way you are able to immerse yourself into a community such as Costa Rica’s is incredible. During my stay I was able to rotate through the clinic in all different areas, which helped me become an all-around better medical professional. Being able to check patients in, work in the pharmacy and even being hands on with actual nursing skills was an absolute joy. There was one particular experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. A woman came in with severe skin decay related to a dog bite that she acquired. As I assisted in the help of cleaning, dressing the wound and even at times holding the patients hand, I was mesmerized by the strength and courage she had that day. Moments like these cannot be read in books or studied. These are truly life changing moments that place a smile on my face when thinking about them. I cannot thank FIMRC enough for the opportunities and memories I will forever have!

What would you improve about this program?
The one thing I would change is the pricing of the trip. Although it wasn't extremely expensive, to a college student it can set you back. The entire trip cost me $1700.00. However, the trip was worth much more!
Read my full story
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Mercedes
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lifetime Opportunity

I volunteered for one week and I am so happy that I did! The staff at Project Alajuelita are amazing and treat the patients in the community like family, including myself. The relationships that they build with the community make them feel welcomed and the staff continues to provide health education for everyone. I traveled alone which was a challenge because I knew very little Spanish but everyone was very helpful in teaching me. Volunteering along gave me to opportunity to help in every way possible. I was able to register patients, take their vitals, see them with the doctor, and then fill their prescriptions in the pharmacy. I know it would have fun to have other volunteers with me as well but I feel like I was able to experience all aspects of the clinic and more!​ I know that the time I spent with FIMRC will greatly impact my ability to become the best physician that I can be.

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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

FIMRC Costa Rica

My experience with FIMRC was incredible because I had the opportunity to live with a host family, practice Spanish, and gain valuable clinical experience while contributing to the local community of Alajuelita. During my time in Costa Rica, I was able to travel around the entire country, meet locals, and become totally immersed in clinic work. Mobile clinics allowed us to see exactly what life was like in Alajuelita, and excursions allowed us to be tourists for a little while. I would go back!

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Sonika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Why Costa Rica needs help!

One patient came into the consultation room after waiting almost all day for her turn. As she explained her situation to the doctor in Spanish, all the while tears running down her face, we all sat patiently waiting and watching. The patient left after giving the doctor and huge hug and with a smile on her face. As the doctor explained what had just occurred, slowly each and every person in the room couldn't help but shed a tear. The lady, married and with 3 children (a fourth on its way) had recently been diagnosed with HIV. Considering she got married to this man 30 years prior, it indicates he had not been faithful. So here was her first issue - a cheating husband. When he learned she had become pregnant with a fourth child, he left her. So here she was, raising 3 kids and carrying a fourth, alone. Her disease gave her only a short amount of time to live. Without her husband she had no one to raise her children after she passed. Looking desperately for help, her brother took her in for a short while. She was forced to leave, however, when her brothers wife kicked her out with fear that she would "spread her disease" to their family. Without the proper knowledge and understanding, she was not able to properly explain to the wife that this was not possible. The only place she had left to turn was a friend who lived in a town a few hours away. This friend was willing to house and help the women and her family, but the women did not have enough money for a bus tickets to take herself and her children. She came to the clinic looking for her medication, but couldn't help looking to the doctor for a shoulder to cry on. The kind hearted doctor took pity on the strong women and provided her with not only bus fair but a little extra to help with food and other necessities.

What would you improve about this program?
The price was a little high, especially for students. Other than that,great program!!
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Daniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ambassadorship with FIMRC

I served a 9-week ambassadorship with FIMRC, working with the Alajuelita clinic from the Philadelphia headquarters for a month and from within the clinic itself for another 5 weeks. Going into this experience, I was hoping to be given real responsibility over a project that makes a real difference. I wanted to learn what it takes to successfully perform social justice and I wanted to immerse myself in a new culture. With these goals in mind, I can honestly say that my experience with FIMRC exceeded my dreams. The staff from headquarters to clinic were exceptional - friendly, professional, trusting with responsibility, and very interested in my personal experience. Through FIMRC I was able to directly participate in providing healthcare to a severely underserved population. Away from the clinic, FIMRC set me up with an absolutely wonderful host family and managed logistics meticulously. I would say the focus of the FIMRC Alajuelita experience is to show you all sides of what is required to provide primary care to a community in need, and this is done by immersing you in the fight.

What would you improve about this program?
I might have wished for a more medically technical program in which I could participate more directly in treatment; that being said, I was a freshman in undergrad when I worked with FIMRC, and did not have much to offer in the way of useful or applicable knowledge or skills.
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Madhuri
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Worthwhile experience? YES!

Volunteering at the FIMRC clinic in Alajuelita was an amazing experience. The staff was really nice and helpful in getting me started. The doctor and psychologist would translate their conversations with her patients to English for volunteers that couldn't speak Spanish. In the clinic their were plenty of different tasks such as working in pharmacy to give the right dosage of medicine based on the doctor's order and explain the medicines to the patients. Checking patients in was my favorite job, here we would ask patients their medical history, measure their weight and take their blood pressure. It was a phenomenal experience where I really understood the importance of prolonged patient interaction in healthcare.

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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

Will I feel like Made a difference? Will we learn from the experience? Are a bunch of basically unqualified undergrads going to be able to d anything that actually matter? Will the people we see as patients actually need our help? I was asking myself these questions and more and I discovered that the answer is- the clinic/community/people need and strive with our help. The staff and patients alike have a love for life, a passion about family and community, and spirits that rub off on those around them (specifically visitors that are as skeptical and inquisitive as we were). The families were happy to have us and teach us about their homes a lives and the patients and staff seemed to glow when we were there. The students began to see a worldly view instead of a clinic/hospital/facility in the U.S. view and that was one of the most amazing things that happened in my opinion. If I had the time and resources I would make it a point to travel to Costa Rica (or anywhere else that FIMRC provides service) every chance I got and I recommend a trip like this to every person for growth, experience, and knowledge.

What would you improve about this program?
We did not know what the clinic, staff, patients, community, host families, drivers, etc... could have possibly needed prior to our arrival and we all expressed that we wished we did. When we asked how we could go about making donations or sending things to the people we thought would benefit most we were told to find the next FIMRC trip headed to Costa Rica and some how link up with them and ask them to carry out donations with them on the plane- easier said than done. Also, the next FIMRC trip to Costa Rica from my university is not leaving until next year. I think if the clinic staff/families/drivers/physicians/etc... Made and provided a regularly updated video (with a mini tour included) it may allow people like myself to get a better idea of what they could bring to further benefit the people involved/impacted by FIMRC.
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Alan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

I spent 2 weeks volunteering at the FIMRC clinic in Costa Rica, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only were the staff and patients so welcoming, but they also made you feel very appreciated and wanted. I went with a group of 6, and we were pretty much the only volunteers there at the time. They had 4 stations for us to observe: Clinic, Pharmacy, Psychology, and Front desk. At the front desk, we greeted the patients and found their file our of the file cabinets. We then took their vitals (height, weight, and blood pressure) and document them on the chart for the doctor. It was really great interacting with the patients and talking with them. We also got to play with some of the kids in down time! In the pharmacy, there are all kinds of medication, sent from the FIMRC headquarters in the US. The pharmacy has sliding window that looks into the clinic so that the doctor, Natalia Fernandez (Nati), can just walk over and hand us the prescription and give some verbal instructions on what medications to bag. Going off of her instructions in the chart, we would find the medication and put them in plastic bags, writing instructions on an index card for the patients. Then we would find the patient in the waiting room, and read the instructions to them. They do this because there have been instances when the patients don't understand how to use the medication. In the clinic, we had the opportunity to shadow Nati as she performed checkups on the patients. She would lets us listen to heart and breathing sounds, as well as take blood pressure. It was especially great because she would sit us down and explain to us why the patient was in the clinic and how she made her diagnosis and treatment plan. I didn't have the chance to go on the psychology rotation because it was added relatively late. Since I was there during Christmas time, another great thing that the clinic does for the locals is hold a Christmas party on Christmas eve. They had traditional Costa Rican deserts, drinks, and piñatas! It was a great time, and all of the people seemed so happy! They also had presents for every single one of their adolescent patients. When I was there, it seemed that the clinic was a integral part of their community. The staff was so accommodating, and they all spoke relatively good English, so knowing Spanish is not required (I didn't know any Spanish). FIMRC has many approved homestay families in the area, and they were all amazing. My friend and I stayed with a couple with 2 kids, and they were all so welcoming and happy to see us. The parents didn't speak English, but the kids did. They were so kind and pretty much let us go in and out freely. They told us some pretty hilarious stories about other volunteers that they had hosted as well. The homestays are pretty close to each other so that if you go with a group of people, you'll all be pretty close. There is a decent amount of down time when you're not in the clinic, but it was a great opportunity to explore Santa Ana. Also, the driver (FIMRC approved) can drive you to many tourist attractions (San Jose, Manuel Antonio Beach, and more) for a small fee. If you're there on the weekends, there are so many day trips to choose from! Our first weekend there, we did an all day trip that started with a tour of the famous coffee plantation, a hike up/around a volcano, and a self-led trek through the waterfall gardens that also had a zoo! The second weekend, we took a trip to Manuel Antonio beach, which was just amazing. There was so much wild life around as well (monkeys and lizards). The monkeys would walk up to you and steal your stuff, so be sure to hang on to it all. Overall, this trip was simply amazing. It was an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I highly recommend it, if you have the opportunity to attend!