Before you apply
Every volunteer must fill out an application for review by Hospitalito administration. Clinicians cannot work in the hospital unless they have been formally accepted and had their work dates confirmed in writing.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Guatemala now requires that all volunteers working in the country receive either a short-term work permit or a Guatemalan medical license (good for two years).
To be accepted, you will have to provide various documents for review by the Colegio Médico two months prior to arrival:
• Copies of your:
◦ Specialty Diploma*
◦ Medical license* (should not expire before your volunteer dates)
◦ Residents must include a letter from their university supervisor.
*These documents must be notarized. The packet must also include a document identifying the notary as a public officer constituted by law.
These are special requirements for obstetricians, medical specialists and nurses:
• Minimum four-week commitment.
• Minimum intermediate Spanish.
• Minimum two-years experience in your field (except for residents)
• Unrestricted license.
• Written proof of good standing in your professional or residency program.
Medical students: Check for special requirements.
Although we appreciate volunteer specialists, the hospital is not capable of providing all types of specialty care to its patients. We encourage specialist to check the Specialties Needed list or to contact us.
• A minimum of two years-experience in your field (except for residents).
• An unrestricted license.
• A letter attesting to your good standing in your residency program.
There are no time or language requirements.
Registered nurse volunteers work regular shifts alongside Guatemalan nurses under the supervision of the hospital’s head nurse. Nurse volunteers have been instrumental in providing additional expertise to their Guatemalan colleagues, whose training is very different.
• A minimum four-week commitment.
• Advanced Spanish language ability.
• A minimum two years-experience in your field.
When you send in your application, tell our volunteer coordinator Febe Sosof about your special talents. If you’re accepted, we’ll try to make the most of your skills.
All medical volunteers and trainers/mentors must speak at least intermediate level Spanish. Only exceptions: OB/GYNs surgeons, and a few specialists.
Intermediate Spanish is defined as the ability to:
• Speak, read and write in the present, past (preterit and imperfect), and future tenses (ir + a + infinitive construction sufficient).
• Understand everything said by Spanish speakers, conversing at a rapid pace.
• Interview, examine and treat Spanish-speaking patients without an interpreter.
Long-term medical volunteers (six months or more) may be eligible for a housing stipend.
Volunteers spending a year or more with the Hospitalito may:
• Also qualify for an “economic hardship” deferment from their student loan provider. Check to see if your lender provides a deferment for those volunteering and receiving a stipend.
• Request that family and friends support their volunteer stint by making tax-deductible gifts via Amigos Hospitalito Atitlán
The concept of malpractice and malpractice insurance does not exist in Guatemala. However, gross/criminal negligence is not without consequences. With this exception, you can practice medicine in Guatemala in legal peace. You will not have to purchase insurance or consider third party payment issues.
The Hospitalito’s Medical Director and is responsible for all medical volunteers. We expect you to work independently and the medical director will not interfere with your work unless he has cultural or medical concerns. If so, he will share them with you with kindness and patience. His word is final on all issues related to the hospital. He is available by phone and will come into the hospital, during off hours, if needed.
If you have any issues or concerns, please speak with Jacinto Garcia. Our nurses, like those a world over, are a rich resource when challenging medical or cultural issues arise. Please consult them regularly.
Flexible, open and friendly clinicians are the best!
Hospitalito Atitlán has a very collegial work environment. Volunteers should be prepared to be addressed by their first names or by doctor/doctora + their first name regardless of their experience or status in their home countries. Being comfortable with this level of informality is essential to a good volunteer experience.
Clinicians who are licensed to dispense medicines are the most valuable to the hospital — especially those with experience in family medicine, obstetric and gynecological medicine, midwifery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine and urgent care.
Hospitalito Atitlán provides the only 24-hour healthcare within a two-hour radius. Volunteers should be prepared to treat a wide range of conditions. Learn more
The Health Volunteers Overseas article, Highly Effective Volunteers, includes advice that is applicable to anyone volunteering abroad.
Checkout our page for recommended readings and resources
We consider volunteers an essential pillar of the Hospitalito’s sustainability. We try to make their transition to Guatemala as seamless as possible by providing orientation and assistance with housing and transportation. We are unable to provide financial support to short-term volunteers, however a small stipend may be available for long-term volunteers (six months or more).
Once you have been accepted, the medical volunteer coordinator will send information on housing. The Hospitalito has neither staff nor resources to make volunteer housing arrangements, but we do provide housing descriptions and landlord contact information to make the process easier.
You will receive an acceptance and confirmation letter from the Hospitalito. Please note that you must have this letter before coming to Guatemala. We are not able to accommodate volunteers who show up without making prior arrangements, nor are we able to allow clinicians to work in the hospital if they have not been accepted or had their work dates confirmed.
All accepted volunteers are required to read the Hospitalito Atitlán Volunteer Orientation Manual prior to their arrival in Santiago Atitlán. A digital copy will be sent to you with your acceptance letter.
After reading it, please sign your confirmation letter, scan it, and return it to us via email
You will have 90 days in Guatemala starting with the day of your arrival. If you plan on staying longer, you will need to visit the immigration office in Guatemala City, where you can pay $10 and get an extension of an additional 90 days. After your first 180 days, you must leave the country for two nights, after which you can start the process again.