Medical professional drawing blood

Medical Mission Trips with Plan My Gap Year

Get an In-Depth Look at Plan My Gap Year and the Medical Volunteer Opportunities They Provide Around the World

Medical professional drawing blood

Medical mission trips are a unique and practical way for healthcare workers to volunteer their time and expertise to bring healthcare services to the world’s most impoverished places. These medical missions are an excellent way for professional and student volunteers to gain valuable, hands-on experience and open their eyes to how medicine is practiced in developing nations.

The organizations that arrange medical mission trips range from large, multi-national operations to more modest but equally rewarding efforts coordinated by local charities and organizations. Plan My Gap Year is a large organization that creates medical mission trips geared exclusively toward medical and nursing school students to help build their CVs before they enter their chosen healthcare profession.

(Click here to see our full list of the best medical mission trips and volunteer opportunities)

What is Plan My Gap Year?

Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides all types of high-impact volunteer opportunities ranging from medical mission trips to wildlife conservation. With headquarters in Kent, England and Portland, Oregon, their goal is to provide student volunteers with the opportunity to gain insight into medical practices in the developing world. They also want to help their volunteers learn first-hand about the roles of medical staff in under-resourced healthcare systems.

Plan My Gap Year lets student volunteers choose their medical placements so the lessons they learn during their trip can apply directly toward their career objectives.. Trips may range anywhere from two to 24 weeks in duration, and placements for medical and nursing students come in a variety of hospital and departmental settings. As a volunteer,  you’ll shadow qualified doctors and nurses as they make their rounds and participate in medical outreach programs.

Where Does Plan My Gap Year Serve?

Plan My Gap Year is an international charity that operates medical mission trips that deliver healthcare services to developing and third-world countries in Latin America, Oceana, Africa, and Asia. Their current list of medical mission trip destinations includes:

  • Tabanan, Bali
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Kumasi, Ghana
  • Delhi, India
  • Cusco, Peru
  • Galle District, Sri Lanka
  • Tengeru, Tanzania
  • Hanoi, Vietnam

What Kind of Hospital Department Setting Opportunities Does Plan My Gap Year Offer?

Plan My Gap Year provides volunteer students with a wide variety of opportunities to serve in the hospital departments of their choice. Their goal is to provide the student with training and experience specific to the area of their professional interest. However, some medical mission trip destinations may not have opportunities in the department of your choosing. Departmental opportunities are listed on that trip’s webpage and from Plan My Gap Year representatives.

Here’s a representative list of the types of hospital department placings available to medical and nursing student volunteers:

  • General Medicine
  • Maternity
  • ICU
  • Cardiology
  • Oncology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Pediatrics
  • And more

Close up of a medical professional

Plan My Gap Year Volunteer Requirements

The Plan My Gap Year application process is straightforward and takes 15-20 minutes to complete. Applicants must provide certain education documents and a clean criminal background check. Volunteers also must have a good grasp of English, but it does not have to be your first language. The minimum age for volunteers is 17, and there is no upper age limit. Keep in mind that most of the volunteers are college student-age.

It is the responsibility of all volunteers to obtain a visa before traveling. Plan My Gap Year strongly recommends you be up to date on all routine vaccinations. Additionally, you need to be inoculated against diseases specific to your destination, and you may also need to provide vaccination certifications. Plan My Gap Year can guide you on necessary vaccinations, as can the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

What Benefits Does Plan My Gap Year Provide?

There are two fees charged by Plan My Gap Year that volunteers are required to cover. The first is a registration fee that is paid when you submit your application. If they cannot arrange a suitable trip after a short period of time. The second fee is the program fee specific to the medical mission trip you choose and the length of time you spend on that mission.

The registration fee covers such expenses as:

  • 24-hour emergency support
  • A dedicated travel mentor
  • Email and telephone support
  • A Volunteer handbook
  • Live, pre-departure webinars
  • Financial protection
  • A certificate of completion for your school
  • Support with college paperwork

The program fee paid before departure covers the costs of some aspects of your trip, but not all. Also, please note that not all medical mission trip program fees cover the same expenses. You must refer to the trip’s specific program web page to list covered expenses. Commonly covered expenses may include:

  • Accommodations
  • Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • In-country orientation
  • 24-hour in-country support

Almost all lodging involves sharing a room with one or two other trip participants. A small number of trips may offer a private lodging option. If so, that option will be listed on that trip’s program webpage.

What Expenses Am I Required To Cover?

In addition to the program fee, which varies depending on the trip, there are a number of expenses that are the volunteer’s responsibility to cover during the mission trip. These expenses include:

  • International and local airfares
  • Inoculations
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Travel expenses including meals while in-transit
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Toiletries
  • Entertainment

As a rule, Plan My Gap Year estimates that $75-$150 per week is suitable to cover general expenses and independent excursions that volunteers may take during their trip. Trip mentors will help make sure you’ve accounted for all additional expenses.

Stethoscope, mask, and hearts

How to Get Started

Like all medical mission trips, the application process to volunteer with Plan My Gap Year is a multi-step process that takes a while to complete. The first step begins with visiting their website to familiarize yourself with the organization’s volunteer opportunities, the type of work they do, the communities they serve, and the medical missions they have planned. After clicking on any listed medical mission, you’ll be presented with a detailed description of that trip, including the program fee, what’s included and not included with that fee, information about accommodations, meals, and proximity to ATMs, as well as a link to launch the application process.

Click here to learn more about Plan My Gap Year.

Start Your Career in Healthcare by Earning Your Degree or Diploma

Advancing your healthcare career is a great way to earn a more competitive salary*, but the rewards go far beyond the money and increased responsibility. By becoming a medical assistant, registered nurse, or earning a BSN degree, you’ll play a key role in restoring health to the patients you serve. If this sounds like the kind of challenge you’re looking for, then the perfect place for you to begin your journey could be at Provo College or its sister school, Eagle Gate College.

The Medical Assistant Program at Eagle Gate College can be completed in as little as 9 months and provides the necessary training for entry-level positions as a medical assistant in a healthcare facility such as a clinic, physician’s office, or urgent care facility.

Or, if you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming a registered nurse, you can start by enrolling in our BSN program. If you already hold an ADN, then you can earn your BSN degree online in as few as 20 months through the Eagle Gate RN-to-BSN program.

Finally, if you’re interested in helping injured or disabled people restore their strength and mobility, we encourage you to explore our Physical Therapist Assistant program.