Get an In-Depth Look at MEDICO and the Medical Volunteer Opportunities They Provide Around Central America
Medical mission trips are a unique and practical way for healthcare professionals to volunteer their time and bring healthcare to the world’s most impoverished and underserved people. Medical missions are a great way to obtain valuable, hands-on healthcare experience and open your eyes to how medicine is practiced places around the world.
The organizations that arrange medical mission trips can range anywhere from large, multi-national operations with extensive resources to more modest efforts coordinated by local charities and organizations. MEDICO may be on the smaller end of the scale, but they make an enormous impact on the communities they serve by bringing much-needed healthcare to some of the poorest communities in Central America.
(Click here to see our full list of the best medical volunteer opportunities and medical mission trips)
What is MEDICO?
Founded in 1990, MEDICO is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides healthcare and health education to impoverished and underserved communities in Honduras and Nicaragua. MEDICO is short for Medical, Eye, and Dental International Care Organization. In partnership with other humanitarian organizations, MEDICO meets with the local leaders of poor Central American communities to determine its healthcare priorities. Then, short-term medical mission trips are organized to address those priorities and implement other sustainable, long-term healthcare initiatives.
MEDICO’s medical mission trips travel to underserved towns that are well-off the beaten path, where little or no healthcare services are readily available. They travel for hours into the countryside to establish temporary clinics where, depending on the needs of the local population, volunteers provide responsible medical, dental, and optometric care as well as establish ongoing community health education and well-being programs.
MEDICO Mission Statement
MEDICO’s mission is to provide comprehensive health care responses to underserved communities in Central America. MEDICO’s efforts are through short-term medical teams, long-term community partnerships, and ongoing health education projects.
Where Does MEDICO Serve?
MEDICO organizes one-week medical mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua. Their current list of planned medical mission trips includes:
- Auka, Honduras
- Uhi, Gracias a Dios, Honduras
- Laka Tabila, Honduras
- Mocoron, Honduras
What Kinds of Medical Professionals Does MEDICO Need?
MEDICO enlists teams of volunteers comprised of a variety of medical and non-medical professionals. These teams provide primary healthcare services and build lasting relationships within the community to help create a healthier and sustainable living environment.
The list of medical and healthcare professionals MEDICO is currently seeking includes:
- Registered Nurses
- Nurse Practitioners
- Pharmacist Techs
- Dental Hygienists
- Community Health Educators
MEDICO Volunteer Requirements
The MEDICO application process requires volunteers to provide documentation of their education and professional backgrounds, including their CV/resume, copies of their personal identification, diplomas, and professional licensure. MEDICO validates each document and then checks for actions against any license. If everything checks out, applicants are then interviewed by MEDICO officials, who will familiarize them with the details of the trip and provide a personal touch to the trip planning process.
Volunteers are responsible for obtaining appropriate vaccinations before embarking on their mission trip. MEDICO will provide you with guidance for vaccinations, but they strongly suggest you visit a physician to obtain the most up-to-date list of vaccinations required for travel to Central America.
Passports are required for travel to Honduras and Nicaragua, but special visas are not. Your passport must be up to date and must not expire before six months after your return.
What Benefits Does MEDICO Provide?
The trip fee is paid in advance to MEDICO, and it covers all administrative costs and a portion of the travel expenses. A list of covered expenses includes:
- In-country transportation
- Meals (not including while in transit)
- Medical Travel Insurance
It’s important to keep in mind that the communities served by MEDICO volunteers are very remote and desperately poor. Apart from your first and last nights in the country, you should expect to sleep on a mattress on the floor of a non-air-conditioned building, or in a MEDICO-provided tent. On occasion, cots may be available, but there are no first-world accommodations on offer. Cell phone coverage is spotty upon arrival in country, and non-existent while on the mission. Expect no Wi-Fi at all. MEDICO can communicate locally and internationally should a vital need arise, but this capability is not available for incidental use.
MEDICO provides safe drinking water for the duration of your mission. All meals while on the mission are provided by local cooks who know and practice safe cooking methods. Despite the primitive conditions, you should expect a deeply rewarding personal and professional experience. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with the people you’ll be serving, shop at their local markets for souvenirs and keepsakes, and take plenty of pictures.
What Expenses Am I Required To Cover?
In addition to the initial trip fee, which varies depending on the trip, certain expenses are the volunteer’s responsibility to cover during your mission trip. These expenses include:
- All airfares
- Walking-around money ($150 should be enough)
- Passport fees
- Expenses and meals while in-transit
- Personal expenses
How to Get Started
Like all medical mission trips, the application process to volunteer with MEDICO is a multi-step process that takes time to complete. The first step begins with visiting their website to familiarize yourself with the organization’s overall mission, the work MEDICO does for the communities they serve, as well as their scheduled missions. A click to establish a registered account with MEDICO begins the application process. After that, volunteers fill out application forms and upload copies of relevant documents. You will also find detailed information about fees and trip logistics there.
Click here to learn more about MEDICO.
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