Volunteer Frequently Asked Question
Frequently Asked Questions
1) I am interested in volunteering abroad. Where can I get more information?
The first place to get information is the website you are currently viewing. However, if you have more questions or would like to speak with someone directly you can email us at clinic @ nicaclinic.org or call (410 ) 369-0512.
2) What are the dates for the volunteer trips?
Volunteers are welcome to come to the clinic during any week of the year. All we ask is that you send us all the required documents two months before your arrival; please keep in mind that the latest we can accept a volunteer is two weeks before their arrival.
3) Can I volunteer alone or do I need to volunteer with a group?
We welcome both individuals and groups to volunteer with us. In both cases volunteers always work alongside clinic staff and they are always supervised by our local volunteer coordinator.
4) I have reviewed the program information online and I am ready to book my trip. How do I proceed?
The first thing you need to do is fill out the registration/inquiry form, which outlines your basic information and gives us more information about your background and interests. Once that has been received by our staff, you will receive an email from our local coordinator in Nicaragua who will assist you in answering any questions you have and begin the process of collecting documents and discussing program interests.
5) What are the costs associated with volunteering abroad?
The volunteer is responsible for all costs associated with their trip. Please refer to the Program Requirements information tab on our website for individual prices.
6) What assistance is available in covering costs?
Because all of our available funds go towards the daily operations of the clinic, we are unable to subsidize the cost of volunteer trips. However, we do not want to turn away volunteers because of financial limitations. We encourage all volunteers to ask family and friends who may be interested in helping them make their trip possible. Alternatively, if you are able to get a group of 12 or more to come down to Nicaragua and volunteer with you then we can help you with some of your expenses.
7) Can I earn academic credit for working in the clinic?
Participants receive academic credit only if the school allows it. Many volunteers use their time in Nicaragua as part of their medical rotation. In any case, you are responsible for investigating the possibility with your school and/or advisor and our staff will be happy to sign any documents you need.
8) What vaccinations should I consider before traveling abroad?
Please refer to the following website which will give you the most up to date vaccination recommendations for Nicaragua, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Also keep in mind that different recommendations exist not only for the country you are visiting but also the region in which you will be volunteering. In the case of Roberto Clemente, we are located in Limon 1, Tola, Rivas.
9) What kind of background is required to volunteer at the clinic?
The Roberto Clemente Clinic welcomes all interested individuals to participate in our program who want to learn and share their experience, knowledge, and passion with our local medical staff and the community. Our volunteers come from various levels of education as well as professional backgrounds. If you have a strong preference for a medical focus, health education topic, or any other aspect of our program please indicate this information on your registration/inquiry form and our staff will do their best to match your interests.
10) How far ahead should I plan my trip?
We accept participants to our program on a rolling basis. However, the sooner you begin the process the more time our staff has to plan your activities. Generally speaking, we recommend that participants contact us as soon as you can commit to your trip and send us all documentation two months before your arrival; however we can accept volunteers up to two weeks before their arrival
11) Should I bring medical supplies or donations of any kind?
We strongly encourage volunteers to bring donations for the use of both the clinic and the community. On the website under About Us, there is a tab called Our Top Ten Needs. There you will find a list of supplies and medications that we need in the clinic. Additionally, if you have a particular focus for health education that you would like to do while in Nicaragua you are welcome to bring materials to donate for that. For example, volunteers have done classes on hygiene so they brought soap, toothpaste, and dental floss to distribute to the school children. Please keep in mind that if you will be bringing a large quantity of medical donations there is a form that you must fill out and give to the local staff in Nicaragua one month before you arrive.
12) How do I get from the airport to the clinic or hotel?
We strongly encourage volunteers to arrange airport transport through their hotel. However, if needed we can also make arrangements to send a cab to pick you up from the airport and bring to back to your hotel.
13) Where do I stay while I am volunteering at the clinic?
There are a number of hotels in the area where volunteers can stay while working with us. The cost of each hotel varies and it is your responsibility to choose the right hotel for you. The following hotels comply with our standards of health, good quality food and clean facilities. We suggest that you stay in one of these. The following websites can provide the information you need to make your reservation.
For volunteers who wish to stay for longer than two weeks and are on a budget, additional options are available. More information can be provided; all you need to do is ask.
14) What will I be doing at the clinic?
Volunteers serve three very important functions. First, volunteers assist the doctors and nurses in the clinic with routine procedures such as IVs, injections, sutures, and consultations. While there are certain illnesses that are very common to the area, every day is different and you never know what you’re going to get. And of course, the level of involvement also depends on the background and experience of the volunteer. Those who are students mainly shadow the staff and those who are certified, have previous medical experience, and can speak Spanish are able to be a little more independent. The second important role of the volunteer is to work in community outreach programs which include working in schools teaching topics such as nutrition and personal hygiene, facilitating workshops to pregnant women about pre/post natal care, and working with young adults to address the ongoing problem of teenage pregnancy. Last but not least, volunteers help with various clinic tasks like painting, fixing our garden, improving the conditions of our installation and more. Also it could include working in the pharmacy, assisting the local nurse with patient records, creating health education materials, and training the local staff in a particular topic of your choice.
15) What will my daily schedule be?
Volunteers help us Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm with a lunch break of course. If you would like to take a Friday off to visit other parts of Nicaragua, you may do so. All we ask is that you let the coordinator know in advance what dates you will be out of town.
16) Is it necessary to speak Spanish in order to volunteer with Roberto Clemente?
It is not necessary but definitely encouraged. While we do receive a handful of patients that are English speaking, the large majority speaks Spanish. In most cases you will be doing community outreach, which requires volunteers to have some Spanish proficiency. However, if you do not speak any Spanish you also have the option of hiring a translator for $30 a day.