Volunteering Abroad as a Medical Assistant

See the World as an International Medical Assistant

If you enjoy the spontaneity and fulfillment of a Medical Assistant’s lifestyle, taking the job overseas can amplify the rewarding and unexpected elements even more. The field needs qualified medical assistants to provide proper care in areas with a higher demand. Areas stricken with poverty, war, poor education systems, and other hindrances require outside assistance to keep their people safe and healthy. This is where certified International Medical Assistants come in.

As an international medical assistant, you have the opportunity to help people where and when they need it the most, making an incredible impact on countless lives and communities. The field is constantly growing, increasing the demand worldwide for certified medical professionals. There is an even higher demand outside the U.S., where medical education for locals might not be as publically or easily accessible.

What Skills Are Needed to Work as an International Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants provide crucial aid to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in a variety of environments. Patients can range throughout all demographics, especially when working internationally. You may be placed in a more traditional setting, like a hospital or doctor’s office, or you could choose to provide in-house communal care or emergency aid. Regardless of the environment, there are certain professional skills and personality traits every medical assistant must posses in order to succeed.


An international medical assistant must embody versatility. You’ll be in an unfamiliar place with people from different cultures, and an important part of the job is being able to adapt to constantly changing settings, people, and scenarios. Your work environment will vary greatly depending on location and practice type, so it’s crucial that you’re able to adapt easily and effectively.

Administrative Skills

Medical assistants also have to learn excellent administrative skills to keep proper medical records and histories. Many of the places needing assistance do not have advanced technology or computers for maintaining records, so it is especially important to utilize whatever resources you have and be as organized as possible. Part of your job may include teaching the locals what you’ve learned, so you can keep the community on track for proper health once you’re gone.

Emotional Stability

Additionally, it’s important to be able to handle the job emotionally. As an international medical assistant, you’re often in high-risk areas witnessing a great deal of pain and suffering. It takes a certain emotional stability to be able to handle the heightened feelings that come along with working in needy areas. The degree to which you’re able to process and handle your own emotions directly translates into the quality of your bedside manner in the field.

Volunteer Opportunities for International Medical Assistants

International medical assistants perform many services all over the world, many in countries suffering from some type of medical or humanitarian crisis. A well-known organization, Doctors Without Borders, works in over 70 countries, with offices around the world. There’s also placement organizations such as Maximo Nivel that help you find the exact program that is best suited for you in areas such as Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

Additionally, organizations such as International Volunteer HQ provide opportunities for this volunteer path while keeping fees and rates to a bare minimum to maximize the experience. International Volunteer HQ offers similar destinations as other organizations, but they allow you to personally select where you’re going, allowing you to fully tailor the experience to suit your skill set. Options like these allow for a wide versatility in potential work environments, so this path is ideal for someone craving an adventurous career.

How International Medical Assistants Can Make an Impact  

International Medical Assistants have demanding and sometimes high-risk positions. However, a special few who are up for the job find immense fulfillment and personal transformation. For example, during a conflict in Darfur, Sudan, Doctors Without Borders reported details about how a medical assistant helped two nurses provide services surrounding birth, malnutrition, measles vaccinations, and bullet wound care.

The nature of the job may contain a degree of risk, but this is largely due to the fact that high-risk areas are almost always in dire need of essential resources such as medical aid. Areas with high risk, such as parts of Africa, South America or the Middle East are areas where you can make the most significant impact, as you’re going where you are needed most. Check out some testimonials from International Medical Aid, a volunteer-based medical assistance program, about how fulfilling it can be to travel to impoverished areas and help vulnerable patients get the care that they need.

Positive Job Outlook for Certified Medical Assistants

The future looks bright for medical assistants everywhere. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 29 percent increase in medical assistants between 2016 – 2026; a much faster increase than average.

While these numbers merely reflect U.S. estimates, it’s indicative of the growing demand for medical assistants. A certification received in The United States can be absolutely life-changing when put to work in an area desperately in need of medical assistance. Receive training near you, and then spread your knowledge and enhance the lives of countless people worldwide.

Contact Woodruff Medical for more information about career options for medical assistants and find out how to begin your journey today.  

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