Healthcare Internships in Costa Rica
Healthcare internships in Costa Rica are based in clinics or hospitals, where interns assist and shadow local doctors and nurses. Specific placements are tailored for interns’ experience, internship length and Spanish language proficiency, but all provide the chance to see healthcare in action in a small Costa Rican town and learn from experienced local professionals.
- Working side by side with healthcare professionals
- Observing and assisting patient care
- Healthcare opportunities to suit interns experience
Type of host organizations:
- Small medical clinics within other organizations (school clinics, pain management clinics, assisted living facility clinics, etc.)
This healthcare internship in Costa Rica is ideal for healthcare students who want to deepen their medical or nursing experience from pre-med level and higher through placements in clinics and hospitals, learning from local professionals.
This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided.
Free healthcare is provided to citizens in Costa Rica, but resources are limited and help is always needed. Healthcare internships are based in the town of San Ramon de Alajuela and neighboring communities, where interns assist in healthcare clinics.
Pre-med healthcare internships are typically based in health support schools, elderly homes, chronic pain clinics, and on programs for people with disabilities. Pre-med interns can support local nurses and staff with a range of tasks, including administering medicines, treating small ailments, keeping medical records, conducting health workshops, assisting with mealtime, therapies, and other basic duties.
More experienced interns can assist alongside local doctors and nurses, typically in rural clinics or hospitals. Healthcare interns can shadow doctors as they treat patients, help to arrange medical supplies, assist during emergency situations, and help with health awareness workshops.
Please note that specific placements will always vary based on your medical experience and patient requirements. Short-term interns can expect to have an introductory experience, as the initial period of your internship is about understanding the local healthcare system, and Spanish-speaking interns are more likely to have greater independence.
Healthcare interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
Keeping medical records
Conducting health workshops
Assisting with mealtime
Shadowing doctors and nurses
Arranging medical supplies
Helping to prepare and run health awareness workshops
Professional development opportunities:
Learning from experienced medical staff
Work within the Costa Rican health system
Practical experience seeing how healthcare clinics and hospitals run
Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.
Costa Rica photo gallery
It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.
Program Fee (USD)
|2 weeks||$1,399Equivalent to $99/day|
|3 weeks||$1,694Equivalent to $80/day|
|4 weeks||$2,039Equivalent to $72/day|
|5 weeks||$2,153Equivalent to $61/day|
|6 weeks||$2,294Equivalent to $54/day|
|8 weeks||$2,526Equivalent to $45/day|
|10 weeks||$2,764Equivalent to $39/day|
|12 weeks||$2,948Equivalent to $35/day|
|16 weeks||$3,425Equivalent to $30/day|
|20 weeks||$3,793Equivalent to $27/day|
|24 weeks||$4,160Equivalent to $24/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
- In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
- Sourcing and securing your internship placement
- Personalization of your internship plan
- Coaching from your supervisor
- Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
- Academic credit facilitation
- International reference letter
- Certificate of Internship Completion
- Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
- Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
- Optional extras, such as language lessons
- Souvenirs and leisure activities during your free time
- Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, public transportation, and any meals not included in your Program Fee
- A deposit of $449 USD is required to secure your internship
- Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
- All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
Arrival and Orientation
Internships in Costa Rica begin every Monday. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. The minimum duration requirement is 2 weeks up to a maximum duration of 24 weeks.
Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays. If arriving earlier than this date, interns will be required to cover the cost of an “out of hours” airport pick up.
The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.
Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday. Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.
Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.
Please note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.
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Accommodation and WiFi
All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.
Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.
Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.
Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.
Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.
We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.
Weekends and travel
During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.
Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!
Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:
Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!
Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.
San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!
Essential country information
|Currency||Costa Rican Colón (CRC)|
Weather and climate:
Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).
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