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Internal Medicine & Surgery Internships in Zanzibar

Internal Medicine & Surgery Internships in Zanzibar

Gain practical experience alongside practicing medical professionals in Zanzibar’s main hospital. Interns are given the opportunity to assist in applying scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to diagnose and treat adults with a very broad range of health concerns.

Internship Highlights:
  • Learn how Internal Medicine and Surgery teams operate in Zanzibar
  • Observe both simple and complex procedures being expertly executed by African surgeons, and learn from surgeons afterwards
Type of host organizations:
  • Zanzibar’s main referral hospital inclusive of surgical departments
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Fully hosted experience from $2316
Includes accommodation & meals
Start dates every Monday
Minimum duration 4 weeks, up to 24 weeks maximum
Discover Zanzibar’s world-class beaches
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Internships align with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

Suitable for university/college students at various levels of their relevant medical/healthcare studies, as well as recent graduates. First year undergraduate students are eligible, provided that their studies have commenced. Medical interns must submit their relevant academic record (transcript) and a letter of recommendation from their university.

Language requirements

This internship is conducted in English.

Associated career paths

Physician, Nurse, Surgeon, General Practitioner, Orderly, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Dentist, Medical Scribe, Medical Administrator, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Clinical Laboratory Technician, Emergency Medical Technician, Radiologic Technologist, Phlebotomist, Optometrist, Cardiovascular Technologist, Anesthesiologist, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist, Obstetrician

Internship details

Gain practical experience alongside practicing medical professionals in Zanzibar’s main hospital. Interns are given the opportunity to assist in applying scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to diagnose and treat adults with a very broad range of health concerns.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided.

Medical internships in Zanzibar

This Medical internship in Zanzibar is an ideal internship for medical students looking to gain practical experience related to oncology, neurosurgery, ENT surgery, infectious diseases including Tuberculosis and HIV. You’ll assist with diagnoses and treatment for a broad range of symptoms and diseases, guidance, counseling, and preventive interventions for improved overall health.Interns are placed at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital and while they may request placements in specific departments, these requests will be catered for on a case-by-case basis.

The Mnazi Mmoja Hospital (MMH) is the main referral hospital for Zanzibar. It is recognized as a modern hospital where specialized services are provided, including Neurosurgery, Oncology Services, Dialysis, Emergency, along with critical care services. Within the East African Community, MMH is dedicated to being a center of excellence, offering comprehensive and affordable health care.

MMH has an established and professionally-run elective and internship program. The MMH hospital campus serves as a practical educational hub for graduate and postgraduate students. It is accredited by COSECSA as a place where general and neuro surgeons can be trained. The Hospital is also SADCAS-certified in providing laboratory tests. MMH has a bed capacity of 776, which are spread over three campuses. The main campus is located in Stone Town. The maternity and mental health hospitals are located within the city limits of Stone Town but outside of the downtown area.

Please note that in 2024, certain medical departments will undergo renovation work. In the event of the closure of a specific ward, interns will be redirected, keeping you (as much as possible) in line with the same medical specialty.

Medical interns can expect to shadow and observe your supervisor, seeing how they approach patients with a range of complaints and providing assistance where it’s appropriate. Local laws mean foreigners that aren’t fully qualified are not able to carry out hands-on medical duties, so it’s important to set realistic expectations about what you’ll be doing. The exact tasks that you’ll experience on your internship will be determined by your supervisor, taking your experience level and demeanor into account.

Internship supervision is always provided with the caveat that local healthcare professionals will first and foremost be focused on the provision of medical care. In a fast-paced medical environment, supervisors may not always be able to immediately discuss their work, while directly working with patients. Bear in mind that, although this internship is conducted in English, from time to time language barriers can arise, given that other languages are spoken in Zanzibar. Patience is an essential attribute for medical interns, along with the ability to coordinate discussions or debriefing sessions with supervisors when it’s most appropriate. Interns are expected to address any questions with their supervisor in order to learn and gain enhanced understanding into cultural differences and local practices.

Come prepared to gain insight into the unique perspective of African healthcare conditions and approaches. Bear in mind that medical facilities in Zanzibar are unlike what you might be used to at home. They are often under-resourced and under-staffed, which presents a number of challenges for both medical professionals and patients. Culture shock can be more pronounced in healthcare environments so interns are expected to maintain a high level of professionalism, focus and compassion. However, this presents a special learning environment, offering interns an opportunity to heighten their cultural intelligence and medical prowess.

In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.

Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.

Typical Schedule

  • Schedules vary based on the exact nature of each internship. Interns should prepare to be flexible with their schedules, but expect between 6-8 hours of work each day, including (optional) possible weekend work

Career Benefits

Internal Medicine & Surgery interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Shadowing and observing local professionals, for diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of symptoms and diseases

  • Supporting medical professionals with patient guidance, counseling, and preventive interventions for improved overall health

  • Supporting medical professionals with comprehensive and palliative care for a broad range of patients

  • Assisting with patient care for mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety

Professional development opportunities:
  • Learn from experienced surgical professionals

  • Experience pre-operational preparation and post-operative care

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence

Zanzibar photo gallery

What recent interns said about their experience

Intisar Shafie
June 2023

I enjoyed meeting new interns and people from around the world and new connections with people from different backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed the hospital experience, it was very hands on and I learnt a lot from the students and doctors in Zanzibar. This internship has helped develop my confidence and communication skills as it has developed my ability to communicate with people that are of different cultures and languages to me. It was interesting to see how differently hospitals in Zanzibar operated compared to the UK and what things we had in common. Outside of the work aspect of the internship, I was able to immerse myself in the Swahili culture by having a great relationship with my host family and making friends with local people. I was also able to appreciate my surroundings and beautiful landscapes in Zanzibar. I would definitely recommend Intern Abroad HQ to others, as there's a whole host of opportunities to get involved in. Intern Abroad HQ co-ordinators/supervisors were also very organised and helpful throughout my internship.

Ines Koulet-Vickot
May 2023

This internship was one of the best experiences of my life! I met incredible people, built strong relationships and friendships, and was able to explore the beautiful Zanzibar island. I interned for six weeks and every two weeks I rotated around different departments of the hospital, including the emergency department, maternity/pediatrics, and internal medicine/surgery. I really enjoyed rotating around different departments because I was able to witness, learn, and practice so many things! This internship really taught me so many things about how the healthcare system in Zanzibar works especially when you start comparing it to the healthcare system in the United States. It was definitely an eye-opener and really cool to see how they assess and treat patients with the limited resources they have. I am forever grateful for the hospital staff and my internship supervisors because this internship exceeded all my expectations and truly made me realize my passion and wanting to pursue a career in the medical field. My accommodation was everything I expected - clean, comfortable, and safe. The family I stayed with was wonderful and the meals were delicious! I also really appreciated that my placement was within five to ten minutes from where my internship was held! I really admired how helpful and approachable the Intern Abroad staff were. I felt supported by the team and really appreciated how efficient and organized everything was.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Our commitment to providing safe internship experiences

Academic credit available for all internships

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.

Learn about course credit

Program fees

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$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2,316 Equivalent to $82 /day
5 weeks $2,609 Equivalent to $74 /day
6 weeks $2,902 Equivalent to $69 /day
8 weeks $3,488 Equivalent to $62 /day
10 weeks $4,074 Equivalent to $58 /day
12 weeks $4,660 Equivalent to $55 /day
16 weeks $5,942 Equivalent to $53 /day
20 weeks $7,114 Equivalent to $50 /day
24 weeks $8,286 Equivalent to $49 /day
  • Airport pick-up
  • Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • 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
  • All in-country transportation
  • Return transportation to the airport at program conclusion
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
  • A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
  • It is important to note that internships in Zanzibar require all participants to obtain a visa. We advise Zanzibar interns to purchase and obtain this in-country (at the airport, on arrival in Zanzibar). Interns receive details in advance, which outline instructions for this process (depending on your specific internship details), along with anticipated costs. Some interns are additionally required to purchase a Work Permit (US$400) or a Trainee Permit (US$100) in-country. This is a government requirement and it currently applies Cultural Arts, Social Work & Education, and Tourism & Hospitality internships. If this is required then it will be arranged with you during the orientation, as coordinators will assist you at the Zanzibar Labour Office. Please note that the requirements and costs for such visas and/or permits are outside the control of Intern Abroad HQ and are subject to change without notice.
  • 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 Zanzibar begin every Monday and interns may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. Exceptions to start date availability may occur when start dates are closed due to public holiday / festival disruptions or if the program has already reached capacity.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee, as well as return transportation to the airport in Zanzibar at the completion of the internship. Interns are required to arrive on the Sunday before their Monday start date. In order to receive this airport pick up, interns fly into the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar (airport code: ZNZ). Note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation, to settle in and rest. Accommodation is covered from the Sunday night of the internship start date. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on the Sunday.

Orientation typically takes place on the Monday start date and covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. For participants who will be interning within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town, a walking tour is also covered. Tourism & Hospitality interns, who may be based within popular beach areas, such as Nungwi, Kendwa, Kiwengwa, Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi, will receive a local orientation that’s relevant to their area.

If you are planning to spend time independently in Zanzibar prior to the commencement date of your internship, and will not require an airport pick up, then you’ll be required to come directly to the local team’s office in Zanzibar Town / Stone Town for meet and greet on your start date. From there, you will be guided to your home-stay accommodation.

Visa Requirements

It is important to note that internships in Zanzibar require all participants to obtain a visa. We advise Zanzibar interns to purchase and obtain this in-country (at the airport, on arrival in Zanzibar). Interns receive details in advance, which outline instructions for this process (depending on your specific internship details), along with anticipated costs. To cover the cost of the visa sufficiently, most interns need to budget US$50-100. However, Tourism & Hospitality interns will need to budget US$250, for the correct visa.

Some interns are additionally required to purchase a Work Permit or Trainee Permit in-country. This is a government requirement. It applies to:

  • Cultural Arts interns - you will need to cover the cost of a Work Permit in Zanzibar. Please budget US$400 for this.
  • Social Work & Education interns - you will need to cover the cost of a Work Permit in Zanzibar. Please budget US$400 for this.
  • Tourism & Hospitality interns - you will need to cover the cost of a Trainee Permit in Zanzibar. Please budget US$100 for this.

If this is required then it will be arranged with you during the orientation, as coordinators will assist you at the Zanzibar Labour Office. Please note that the requirements and costs for such visas and/or permits are outside the control of Intern Abroad HQ and are subject to change without notice.

Accommodation and WiFi

Most interns in Zanzibar are hosted in various homestay accommodations, within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town. The exception to this is that Tourism & Hospitality interns can expect to be located in closer proximity to their internship. For example, locations usually include the popular beach destinations of Zanzibar, such as Nungwi, Kendwa, Kiwengwa, Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi. In this case, accommodation may be located on the grounds of the internship placement (e.g. on the grounds of the hotel), at external guest houses/lodges, or with a host family at the respective village.

For the comfort of our interns, the host families that we work with (within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town) provide a higher standard of living, compared to other typical family homes on the island. They often have access to domestic staff, such as a cook, drivers, nannies, gardeners, housekeepers, and security guards. Employees of the host family usually have their own separate accommodation, provided for them on the same property as the main family home. Typically, these host families have older children who are being educated abroad. Therefore, they are able to comfortably accommodate international interns in Zanzibar while their own children are studying internationally. The household may have younger children who have not yet reached a higher level of education. Interns can expect to have their own bedroom. The meals which are included are typically generous, having been prepared and served by a cook.

Note that accommodation is unlikely to provide WiFi. Unlimited internet plans are typically unavailable in Zanzibar and connection must be paid for by the gigabyte. However, all interns receive a local SIM card for use at their orientation, which initially includes 3 GB of data traffic. Top-up vouchers can be purchased as need be and they are relatively inexpensive.


Internships in Zanzibar include three meals per day, seven days per week, served at the accommodation. The culinary traditions of Zanzibar have been influenced by many nationalities, including Indian, British, Portuguese, Arab, Bantu, and even Chinese. Therefore, typical dishes may reflect a fusion of styles. Rice is a staple, which can be cooked with an array of spices (Zanzibar is the island of spice, after all!) Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, chilli, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves may be used to flavor rice, meat, fish and curry dishes. The famous spice rice of Zanzibar is called “Pilau”. In addition to cooked meals, fresh vegetables and fruits are available and you can also find a wide variety in the local markets. Host families are accustomed to accommodating interns who are vegetarians and can ensure meals are prepared appropriately. Some restaurants will also offer vegetarian dishes. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance (i.e. allergies and intolerances), so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations to you accordingly.

Swahili Language Lessons

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is spoken throughout Zanzibar and it is the national language of Tanzania. (English is only the official language of the High Court). While fluency in Swahili is not a requirement to intern in Zanzibar, learning some of the local language can help enhance your cultural experience and immersion. Starting with a few lessons can help you learn some basics to demonstrate common courtesy. A maximum of ten hours per week are recommended. Lessons are typically conducted individually, but may be shared between 2-3 other participants of the same level (although, the number of participants per lesson does not affect the cost). For more information about language lessons, interns may speak directly to the local team in-country.

Weekends and travel

There are a wide range of tourism excursions to enjoy in and around Zanzibar archipelago. You can join half or full day trips to some of the infamous spice plantations, explore the Jozani Forest National Park and mangroves, sail through the Menai Bay Conservation Area, or even relax within some of the popular beach resorts. While there is a lot to see and do, we recommend chatting with our local team, based in the historical center of Stone Town, for advice. They’re in the best position to advise you regarding responsible tourism operators. Keep in mind that any trip to Africa is not complete with going on safari. We can help interns to arrange budget safari options, within the mainland of Tanzania. Although cost-effective, the trips are high-quality and provide the social opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers and international interns or volunteers. If you’re looking for a challenge and aiming to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, let us know as well - we can assist with arranging affordable accommodation in Moshi, as well as making other recommendations.

Essential country information

Capital Zanzibar City
Population 1.304 million
Languages Swahili, Arabic, English
Currency Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
Time zone UTC+03:00
Weather and climate:

Being near the equator, the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago are warm year-round, and the temperature doesn’t vary too much throughout the year. The usual highs are between 85°F / 91°F (30°C / 33°C) and the usual lows range between 70°F and 76°F (21°C / 24°C). The hotter times of the year are typically from December through March. From July through October, the temperatures are more comfortable. The wetter season usually begins in late November, leading up to the wettest month of the year, which is April. After April, the dry season begins again around mid to late May.