Become a Global Health Volunteer in Costa Rica!
94% Rating
(10 Reviews)

Become a Global Health Volunteer in Costa Rica!

FIMRC's Project Alajuelita, located approximately 30 minutes from the capital of 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 topics such as proper dental care, 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!

Over the course of your trip you'll receive an unfiltered experience in health care abroad, and learn about the tremendous impact one person can have!

Locations
North America » Costa Rica » Santa Ana
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
1 Year+
Project Types
Medical
Psychology
Sexual Health
Language
English
Housing
Host Family
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The cost of your program includes the program donation that supports our project sites as well as housing, three meals per day, and transportation. Transportation includes airport pick up/drop off and transportation to volunteer activities. Airfare is not included. By arranging lodging, food, and transport for you, we enable you to safely experience the local culture and focus your energy on the work you will be doing in the community!

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    90%
  • Support
    99%
  • Fun
    78%
  • Value
    87%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (10)

Default avatar
Megan
Female
20 years old
Arlington Heights, Illinois

FIMRC Costa Rica

10/10

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!

Default avatar
Sonika
Female
25 years old
Newark, nj
Rutgers University

Why Costa Rica needs help!

10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?

The price was a little high, especially for students. Other than that,great program!!

Default avatar
Daniel
Male
24 years old
Chicago
University of Notre Dame

Ambassadorship with FIMRC

9/10

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.

How can this program be improved?

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.

Default avatar
Madhuri
Female
24 years old
Holden, Massachusetts
Wake Forest University

Worthwhile experience? YES!

10/10

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
Female
32 years old
Springfield, MO
Missouri State University

Great experience

10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?

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
Male
24 years old
Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan

An amazing experience

10/10

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!

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Olivia
Female
24 years old
Charleston, SC
Clemson University

Pura Vida - Costa Rica Ambassador Intern

10/10

The Ambassador program immersed me for 3 months into the community of Alajuelita, Costa Rica, home to impoverished, medically underserved Nicaraguans and uninsured Costa Ricans. My daily responsibilities in the clinic included: checking in patients by recording medical history, height and weight, preparing medications in the pharmacy, shadowing the pediatrician Dr. Fernandez, and creating health education talks. Weekly, I also worked in a soup kitchen and disability clinic. Ambassadors also design and implement sustainable programs within the community. For my project, I taught a ballet class for girls aged 4-12 to encourage exercise, instill self-confidence, and create positive body image. Shadowing Dr. Fernandez this summer gave me the opportunity to witness her tireless dedication to serving this community and learn from her. Apart from my clinical duties, one of my favorite parts of the week were days I worked in the soup kitchen a tiny ill-equipped kitchen that feeds 200 kids a day. The local women that run it are some of the best examples of selflessness I have ever met. I also taught ballet class for 15 little girls. Watching them having fun, improving every week, and gaining confidence has been so fulfilling. Seeing their excitement to wear their new ballet slippers and having community members express appreciation for the classes, were some of the most rewarding parts of my summer. Overall, most important to me were the relationships I formed with the people I met. The Ambassadorship has allowed me to connect with the people and reach a level of acceptance within the community.

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Marissa
Female
32 years old
Philadelphia, PA
Bryn Mawr College

Excellent Opportunity

8/10

I had an amazing experience with FIMRC Alejuelita the Summer of 2007. I spent a month there, doing a homestay. Mornings were for clinic work--I was able to get hands on experience and observations with the medical team and provide health education. Afternoons were for teaching health programs to the kids in the area, on topics like brushing your teeth and healthy foods. I was able to greatly improve my Spanish knowledge and travel to a variety of areas in Costa Rica--so beautiful there!

The staff was dedicated and committed, my homestay family was friendly and inclusive, and my fellow volunteers a lot of fun. Greatly recommended, particularly for those interested in healthcare.

How can this program be improved?

Nothing!

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Jane
Female
24 years old
Champaign, IL
University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign

Eye Opening

8/10

Although I wish my trip to Costa Rica could have been more hands on, there were many invaluable experiences I gained from this trip. The staff at the clinic was amazing- they are dedicated and passionate. Their passion was so inspiring to me and really opened my eyes to the work and help that is needed in underserved populations such as in Costa Rica. Although I was only able to do small works such as shadow the doctor, log in patients, and fill out prescriptions, I truly believe I made an impact. However, the people I met and the stories I heard during my trip made more of an impact on me. I vividly remember going to the soup kitchen to help which was my favorite part of the trip. I was able to speak to children (most of them who come regularly) and hear some of their stories. One small boy around the age of 12 told me he was not from Costa Rica and that he very much missed his real home as he showed me a picture of his hometown on his cellphone. I was also taken on a small drive to see the living conditions of the people of Costa Rica which was also very eye opening. I saw the shacks that they lived in and the dirt roads that they traveled on. Besides my experiences with the clinic, I was able to spend a lot of time with the team I came with from the University of Illinois. We were able to hike up a mountain, go zip lining, have a nice dinner on top of a mountain, as well as visit the beach. Not to mention, I had a very generous and giving host family to stay with. They took us to a local onion festival the night I arrived in Costa Rica and I was able to experience local festivities.

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Megan
Female
24 years old
Champaign, Illinois
University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign

FIMRC Clinic in Costa Rica

9/10

I had an amazing time in Costa Rica. On a daily basis we would go to the clinic and either 1. Shadow the doctor 2. Take vitals (height, weight, temperature, blood pressure) 3. Fill prescriptions or 4. Play in the waiting room with the kids or talk to the families. Every position was very fulfilling and helped me practice my Spanish as well as receive medical clinic exposure. We also gave two health education presentations to local women and children. These were amazing opportunities that are very fulfilling for anyone interested in health education.
Being in Costa Rica was an amazing experience to gain appreciation for the medical care we have in the US. I returned from Costa Rica with a desire to help people take care of themselves better.
While we were in Costa Rica, we also were able to go on a trip to a waterfall and volcanoe. The land is absolutely beautiful and the weather was amazing. There is a fun nightlife as well! I really recommend going on this trip!

How can this program be improved?

The one problem is that this program is expensive and you could travel on your own for cheaper, but just think about the good your payment is doing to improve the health of the local communities!

About The Provider

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The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of families in the developing world through innovative and self-sustainable health programs. Operating since 2002, we have grown to ten project sites in nine countries including: Costa

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