While Guatemala has a public healthcare system, many people - particularly families living in rural areas - have trouble accessing healthcare services. Unequal distribution of healthcare professionals across the country, along with a lack of funding, has resulted in many poor and indigenous Guatemalans missing out on crucial medical attention. Based in and around the charming city of Antigua, healthcare placements are available for medical students and professionals of all levels.
Placements for pre-med school interns or students in the early stages of medical school / health sciences typically include health support schools, elderly homes, and programs for individuals with disabilities. These placements may be based around Antigua, neighboring towns, or the community of Tecpan. For these placements, interns provide support to nurses and staff. Tasks can include helping to administer medicine, helping treat small ailments, keeping medical records, conducting health workshops, assisting with various therapy and patient mealtimes.
Medical students in their third year or above may be placed alongside local doctors and nurses at rural clinics. These clinics are usually situated around Antigua, as well as within the Mayan highlands. Activities may include conducting health and hygiene workshops in rural schools, helping doctors by measuring patient vital signs, shadowing doctors, assisting within the clinic’s pharmacy, offering patient diagnosis assistance, participating in medical outreach campaigns in villages (subject to availability), teaching indigenous families in rural areas about basic health measures and nutrition.
Note that specific internship activities will always vary on each intern’s experience, so the level of responsibility and involvement will vary. Short-term interns can expect to have an introductory experience, as it is standard for every intern to spend time establishing foundations to build upon.
Want to get started?
Taking the first step is easy! Our team is here to provide friendly assistance, from your initial research and planning phases, right through until your internship completion. To get started, submit an application. It is free to apply and takes just 5 minutes.
How to intern
Programs begin on the first and third Monday of each month and participants may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 week. All participants fly into the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in order to be picked up and transported to the accommodation, unless alternative arrangements for an overland arrival have been made. Orientation is given by our local hosts at their offices in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas and covers important details concerning introductions, support, culture, customs, safety, rules and expectations, things to see and do, and more.
All interns in Guatemala 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 Guatemala 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 Guatemala include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Guatemalan breakfast is provided and consists 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.
|Internship Duration||Program Fee (USD)|
- To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
- All Intern Abroad programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 in addition to the Program Fee.
- All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
- * Terms and Conditions do apply
What extra costs will I have?
- Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
- Language lessons.
- Souvenirs + tourism/leisure activities during free time.
- Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, and public transportation. Interns generally find US$40 per week to be sufficient.
Internships in Guatemala 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 Guatemala. 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 Guatemala. Most placements are usually based in and around Santa Lucia Milpas Altas, just 15 minutes from Antigua, as well as in and around Antigua. Antigua is a fantastic weekend hub for excellent cuisine, sightseeing, colonial churches, coffee tours, chocolate-making classes, museums, shopping, and transportation. Public buses are available from Antigua to other parts of the country and many travel agencies also offer shuttles to key touristic places such as Monterrico beach, Lake Atitlan, Coban, Lanquín (Semuc Champey), or Tikal. Popular tourist attractions throughout the region include Pacaya National Park and Kawilal Hot Springs, Acatenango Volcano, Lake Atitlan and villages, Iximché Ruins, Valhalla Station and more.
Our local team in Guatemala 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:
Pacaya Volcano: This trip is great for hiking and sightseeing within the Pacaya National Park. It’s a full day tour, with transportation and guides, but you’ll need to ensure you bring your own packed snacks for the day. The departure for the trip is about 8 a.m. and returns at about 4 p.m. The hiking time itself is four hours, so you’ll need to have proper walking shoes and clothing for the excursion.
Coffee Tour: A trip to Guatemala is never complete without a coffee tour. You can learn about how some of the world’s most delicious coffee is grown, processed, and exported. Also learn about sustainable practices and different varieties of coffee - no doubt, working up a thirst for a hot cup of coffee in the meantime!
Traditional Cooking Class: One of the best things about traveling is being able to try different cuisines of the world. Our team in Guatemala can arrange cooking lessons for interns, so that when you go home you’ll have the skills to keep preparing your favorite meals! Learn how to cook Guatemala’s yummiest meals from scratch. Local experts run the four-hour classes, giving tips on ingredients and cultural insight.
Acatenango Volcano overnight trip: This hiking and camping trip takes two days, so it’s a perfect weekend excursion if you’re looking for something more adventurous. The hike itself is demanding, so a reasonable level of fitness is required and you’ll need to ensure you pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Stunning views from the top of the volcano are certainly worth the effort!
Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango market: This guided tour includes an overnight stay, enabling you to take advantage of a weekend and see more of Guatemala. Lake Atitlan is considered one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, so it’s not to be missed during your internship. The Chichiscastenango market is the largest open-air market in Central America, so it’s a “must do” cultural experience and perfect for sourcing gorgeous artisan gifts and souvenirs.
Semuc Champey and caving: Located in the middle of the jungle, a guided trip to Semuc Champey requires three days. It’s an incredible place to behold, where naturally formed pools of turquoise waters and cave formations contrast beautifully against the lush green jungle backdrop. After having the opportunity to swim, the tour includes guided entrance to some of the caves and tubing along the Cahabon river.
Tikal Ruins: You’ll have the option to reach the Tikal Ruins over one or two days, depending on if you opt to travel there via plane journey or bus. These impressive Mayan Ruins are considered to be the “crown jewel” of Guatemala. There are more than 3,000 archaeological elements to the site, offering insight into an area which was one of the largest of the Mayan cities. Arrival into the archaeological site itself is easily accessible and there is ample opportunity to spot wildlife within.
|Currency||Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)|
Weather and climate: Guatemala has a range of micro climates and the high altitude of Guatemala City results in a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb) in this region. There aren’t distinct seasons in Guatemala and the temperature is typically mild year round. Temperatures range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F) during the day, and 12°C to 17°C (54°F to 63°F) at night. The country attracts winds and rain during the months of May to October with the hottest month being April.