A fresh perspective:
A physical therapy internship in a developing country is the perfect opportunity to acquire unique experience. You’ll develop an understanding of practices that will be completely new to you; all while gaining experience that will help establish your position as an initiator in your field. Whether you’re a student looking for experience that will help you develop, or a professional who wants to add something that stands out to your resume, an internship with Work the World will prepare you for anything.
This is your opportunity to take yourself to a new level of understanding that you never thought you’d reach. When you’re in country you’ll come across a spectrum of uncommon ailments and alternative treatments that you won’t have seen back home. For example some destinations still use electrotherapy where in most of the more developed nations this isn’t the case. It is common in the developing world that people can’t afford to pay for healthcare. Add that to the long distances to most healthcare institutions and patients often lose the incentive to seek care until it’s absolutely essential. As a result you’ll see cases that are far more severe than you’ll be used in your own system. Don’t settle for being a physical therapy volunteer. Instead give yourself the respect you deserve and reap the benefits of an internship specially designed for you.
YOUR internship, CUSTOM-MADE
‘We can make it happen’ - words we live by. All you have to do is help us identify your clinical skills and interests and we’ll put all our efforts into engineering a physical therapy internship that precisely suits your needs and abilities. It’s crucial that you understand that these are not merely physical therapy volunteer opportunities; they’re specially crafted internships designed with your needs in mind. Once you’re on board, one of our Internship Experts will begin to engineer your experience. They’ll look after everything from arranging your visa to coordinating your in-hospital experience and beyond. They also run all of our in-country operations and make regular trips overseas to make sure the programs are meeting our high standards. We couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and skilled team.
ON THE GROUND
As soon as your plane lands our dedicated ground teams will be ready and waiting to take you shuttle you back to our fully catered, private, security guarded accommodation. These specialist local teams will also provide 24/7 support for the duration of your trip. You’ll be pleased to hear that our houses are only for the use of Work the World participants. Further to this you’ll be given personal login details to access MyTrip - our interactive internship tracking tool. All our houses are staffed by Program Managers and their Assistants who will make sure your experience runs smoothly, in-house chefs who’ll cook you delicious breakfasts and dinners, a housekeeper, and an experienced security guard to give you complete peace of mind.
My time in the hospital was rewarding both personally and professionally; I utilised quiet time to ask about staff´s favourite foods and things to see and do in Arequipa.
Caitlyn Dunsford, University of Sydney 2015Read more
As a hospital in a British colony island, it was clear that the opportunities would be the best; language barriers would not be an issue.
Rebecca Fawcett, University of Birmingham 2015Read more
My role overall in the hospital was to observe the doctor, take notes and then also be a physiotherapy assistant with some patients.
Madison Heil, University of San Francisco 2015Read more
In paediatrics we saw children with fractures, burns, cerebral palsy, and malnutrition. We were able to give children and mothers advice and show them treatment
Harriet Campbell, Cardiff University 2015Read more
Upon starting our placement, my first surprise was how differently the hospital operated compared with hospitals in the UK.
Lucy Fieldsend, University of Nottingham 2015Read more
Physiotherapy internships in Africa, Asia, and South America:
Tanzania - Arusha
The city of Arusha is a lively center of activity located inland from Africa’s glorious east coast. There’s an enormous selection of activities to be enjoyed in and around the city itself. In fact there’s so much to do it’s unlikely you’ll get around to seeing it all. But if you’re interested in spotting lions on safari, or taking in the breathtaking view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, then Arusha is for you. From a clinical perspective physical therapy students will experience a broad range of environments.
Both day and night the city is alive with commotion. There are local markets to browse, restaurants and street food vendors to satisfy your appetites, bars to unwind in at the end of a long day, and more. If you want to see another side of Arusha, head to the city’s outskirts and beyond. The region has vast plains where cheetahs, wildebeest, lions and zebra roam freely, so going on safari is a must here. Better still, you can jump on a domestic flight and in two hours you’ll arrive on the island of Zanzibar where you can enjoy an exciting weekend chilling out and sipping cocktails a beautiful sandy beaches. If you’re the adventurous type you’ll be able to climb the nearby Mt. Meru for views from the summit that will stay in your memory forever.
The hospitals and clinics we’ve partnered with are among the best in the city. This means that gaining high quality experience is a given. In both the government district and government regional hospital you’ll work in busy departments. In these departments you’ll have the opportunity to work with both inpatients and outpatients, helping to rehabilitate patients with ailments ranging from severe burns cased by gas cooker explosions to road traffic accident injuries and beyond.
There’s no question that you’ll gain a lot of experience while you’re working in Arusha’s hospitals. But if you want to find out about how healthcare is delivered to those few people who live in the country’s more remote reaches, this add-on is absolutely essential. Comfortable behind the walls of the village ‘enkang’ – the enclosure surrounding a typical Maasai camp – you’ll stay with a host family in a conventional village hut. In the mornings you’ll begin your work in a basic clinic where you’ll observe treatments and assist patients using both traditional and modern solutions. Your afternoons will be spent with your personal guide who will introduce you to Maasai traditions including trying on traditional clothing, joining in dances, walking to sacred Maasai sites, and even watching a goat sacrifice.
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, literally translated as “The residence of peace”, is the most populous city in East Africa. The area is quickly urbanizing, but as Dar es Salaam is a coastline city encircled by game parks, mountains, forests, and oceans, Dar es Salaam has numerous areas of natural wonder ready for exploration. There are incredibly picturesque beaches here too, which is not most would expect from an African destination. If you choose this destination as a physical therapy intern you’ll have the chance to observe and treat everything from dealing with traffic accident injuries to rehabilitating stroke patients and beyond.
Dar es Salaam delivers an excellent mix of opportunities that can only come from the diversity a cosmopolitan city brings. What’s more, the definitive traveler’s nirvana lies just across the water – just an hour offshore from the continent, Zanzibar’s white sands and warm waters are a focus for divers, backpackers and partygoers the world over. If you travel further inland you’ll quickly discover Mikumi National Park and Selous Game Reserve where there’ll be ample opportunity to go on safari. You could also take advantage of discounted internal airfare, or take the buses and head up to the country’s northern safari circuit to climb the famous Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Oftentimes the most prominent causes of injury in the developing world are road traffic accidents. Basic safety principles that you observe at home may not exist in local consciousness and as a result, a disproportionate number of patients are admitted as a consequence of terrible accidents. Nevertheless, the range of specialist departments in our partner hospitals allows for patients to be admitted for a broad spectrum of ailments. You will observe patients who have injuries from things as diverse as mining accidents, strokes to varying degrees of severity, and much more. As a physical therapist, internships such as this can make a huge impact on your life. Seize your chance today.
This is your opportunity to pick up a much more extensive understanding of the provision of healthcare in Tanzania. In an isolated area in the foothills of the awesome Viduna Mountains you'll appreciate the welcome of our resident host family. Your mornings will be spent working at a local health post assessing cases and recommending medicine. Your afternoons and evenings will be spent with your personal guide who will acquaint you with the way of life and traditions of the local community. This will include learning traditional drumming and dancing, cycling to sugar cane plantations, volunteering in the local primary school, and swimming in nearby waterfalls.
Nepal - Pokhara
Pokhara can be found in a sheltered valley at the feet of the Himalayan Mountains. The city itself is as magnificent as the areas that surround it. Plunging yourself into Nepalese culture, particularly the aspects of it that are unique to Pokhara, will be a truly unique experience. Adventurers will love hiking through the Annapurna mountain range and tracking tigers through dense and misty forests. While those looking for a more relaxed pace will find peace exploring the many temples that can be found throughout the city, and sampling local specialties in local restaurants. As a physical therapist here you’ll find yourself working in busy wards on unusual cases such as leprosy and beyond.
The mountainous backdrop to the city of Pokhara has to be one of the most impressive on the planet. While it’s true that a calm way of life is encouraged here in Pokhara, the city is also a vibrant hub of activity in which there’s always something new to be experienced. For culture and tradition, visit the many temples to hear the devout monks chanting daily prayers and take on a session or two of hilltop yoga at sunrise. For those of you who are more interested in getting the adrenalin pumping, just outside the city limits you’ll find paragliding, white water rafting, bungee jumping, hiking, and more.
Thousands of people across Nepal still suffer from leprosy. As a physical therapist here you’ll have ample opportunity help rehabilitate these leprosy patients in our partner hospital’s Leprosy and Neurorehabilitation clinic. You’ll also have the chance to work in a much larger government hospital working closely with both inpatient and outpatients who’ll have a variety of highly specific treatments. Road traffic accidents are still surprisingly common in Pokhara, so you’ll become skilled with very particular elements of rehabilitative care.
If you want to immerse yourself in a totally different side of Tanzania's story, you’ll have to venture much further afield. We can help you do just that. On this add-in you’ll live on the slopes of the Himalaya in a remote village to absorb local culture and learn how community professionals have learned to adapt to this low resource environment. You’ll stay with our host family who will help you integrate into village life. In the mornings you’ll work in a nearby health outpost to treat members of the local community. In the afternoons your time will be spent with a guide visiting the local shaman, trying your hand at fishing, hiking to mountain temples, joining in with cultural songs and dances, and more.
Nepal - Kathmandu
Kathmandu’s history stretches back across time and the inhabitants express this legacy through the local cuisine, architecture and customs. However there is a sense of the modern here. Top of the range motorcycles zoom along ancient streets and Buddhist monks can be seen walking around with mobile phones. The beauty that can be found around the city is magnificent. The Himalayan Mountains piercing the sky can be seen from a number of points across the city. As a physical therapist in Kathmandu you can expect an exciting placement. The discipline has grown in the last five years and now you’ll work with specialists treating everything from common joint problems to severe spinal injuries.
On one hand Kathmandu is a place of rich culture and deep spirituality. On the other the city and the surrounding areas offer thrilling adventures and astounding natural beauty. Paragliding is a favored choice among fellow wanderers, and as you circle through the snow-tipped mountaintops you’ll realize why. If you prefer travelling downward, head to the Bhoti Kosi River gorge and launch yourself from the platform of the highest bungee jump in the world, after which you’ll have fantastic story to tell in the clubs and bars of the Thamel district, which can always be relied upon to provide a Nepalese night out to remember.
Nepal’s focus on physical therapy has grown significantly in the last five years and now patients come from both the city and much futyjer away in the surrounding valley, meaning you’ll see a diverse cross-section of society. Most of your patients will be referred to your department via other areas of the hospital including the Orthopedics, Neurology and ENT departments. Common complaints include things like joint pain and back pain, but the department in our partner hospital also serves as a rehabilitation center for patients after severe accidents, falls, spinal injuries and more.
If you truly want to understand the extent to which Kathmandu's lack of resources is affecting people outside the city limits, you’ll need to head into the remote areas. That’s where we come in. We’ve organized an add-on to your internship that will take you to a remote mountain village set in the Himalayas. You’ll stay with our charming host family and in the mornings work in the local health outpost where you’ll treat walk-in patients from the local community. Your afternoons will be spent enjoying cultural activities like learning how to cook traditional Nepalese dishes with your host family, milking the village buffalos, hiking to nearby villages and temples, and more.
Philippines - Dumaguete
The city of Dumaguete is fast developing into a modern center, however the island on which it can be found remains a paradise. For starters if you venture to the edge of town you’ll find the beginnings of the tropical forests. If you head to the other side of the city, you’ll be met by an open stretch of beautiful ocean. The city is also transforming slowly in to a trendy cultural hub thanks to the three universities here, which means excellent bars and eateries among other things. Trekking around this scenic island is also a must, as the landscapes here are phenomenal. As a physical therapist working in our partner hospitals in the Dumaguete you’ll experience a varied placement, including working with a local NGO.
Dumaguete, while indeed on a tropical island, manages to convey a more contemporary feel typical of more developed countries. Travel to the beach after a long day on the wards to unwind under the warm sun with a locally brewed beer, or make your way to the restaurants and street food vendors found along the seafront boulevard. Tricycle-taxis are a popular way to get some distance behind you to get out of the city. Out of town you’ll be able to walk right into the jungles where you’ll swim in waterfalls, or if you take one of the local boats from the coast, you’ll have the chance to go whale and dolphin watching. True adventurers can take a trip to Siquijor Island to watch the witch doctors at work.
Experience treating a spectrum of unusual ailments from patients across the island will greatly sharpen your skills and expand your knowledge like never before. Patients will exhibit symptoms and have complaints that you most likely won’t have seen before. This will be especially true of patients who have travelled into the city from the mountain regions. Sports rehabilitation, back injury rehab, arthritic care, and geriatric and pediatric rehab are to name but a few of the areas you’ll gain experience in. You’ll also have the opportunity to work in a wounds clinic and with a local NGO treating young children.
Taking on the village healthcare experience in Dumaguete’s more remote regions will be the perfect accompaniment to your city placement. You’ll live with our host family in a rural island village and rapidly come to appreciate the difficulties faced by local healthcare professionals who work here. Your mornings will be spent working alongside local professionals in local healthcare clinics that have limited resources. In the afternoons your guide will introduce you to local culture and you’ll join in a structured schedule of activities like BBQs on the guardhouse patio of a protected reef, go crab collecting among the mangroves and much more.
Philippines - Iloilo
Iloilo is an animated city on a paradise island in some of the most temperate climes of Southeast Asia. The island has surprising natural curiosities too. Palm trees grow in abundance on the pristine sandy beaches, jungles fringe the surrounding areas, and if you’re bold enough the island has the odd mountain or two to climb. Iloilo city itself is one of a kind. This Filipino cultural center with restaurants, bars and seafront cafes is quickly brining itself into more modern times. However the town’s historical monuments such as churches, and museums help travelers to peer back across the region’s history. Physical therapists who choose Iloilo will as ever enjoy an extremely diverse placement working with patients who will have a range of novel conditions.
Iloilo is the ideal destination for those of who want to set themselves free. In the city you’ll have everything you need to make you feel at home, including an excellent selection of restaurants, street food vendors, and bars for fun in the evenings. If you want to head slightly further afield, then just off the coast of Cebu you can hop onto a boat and go whale watching, which is something you’ll never forget. You can also trek your way through the jungles of Antique to experience being ‘cooked alive’ in a special hot bath. When you’re feeling the day’s activities catching up to you, head into town and enjoy a traditional massage.
As a physical therapist in Iloilo you’ll get a very close look at, and understanding of, ailments like Bell’s palsy, cerebral palsy, varying degrees of burns, and trauma related injuries. For the most part rehabilitation equipment and machines are handmade. This will show you some of the innovative techniques local professionals have had to develop to provide adequate care for patients. You’ll also come into contact with or use TENS, ES machines, US machines, and more. Paraffin therapy is also used here on occasion.
Taking a look into the much more rural way of life those outside the city have adopted will be an excellent complement to your city experience. You’ll live with our host family on an offshore island dotted with Mango trees (a valuable local resource). In the mornings you’ll work in the nearby health center and district hospital. Here you’ll come to have a deep understanding of how healthcare is provided under such challenging circumstances. Your afternoons are will be filled with novel experiences such as cooking lessons with your host family, swimming in waterfalls, island hopping, swimming with giant turtles, beach barbecues, and more.
Sri Lanka - Kandy
Sri Lanka is a country like no other. All those who travel here leave with both warm memories and a longing to return, which some indeed choose to do. Our base is located in the stunning city of Kandy. This city exhibits a varied culture that has been molded and shape over centuries by an array of international influences. Sri Lanka also presents travelers with overwhelming beauty, whether that’s through the forests, jungles, beautiful sandy beaches or the striking Knuckle Mountains. If you’ve a mind for adventure you’ll be grateful for activities like tiger tracking, white water rafting, riding elephants, and much more. Physical therapy internships for undergraduates are rarely as enlightening as this.
There's always something new to do in Kandy. In fact as long as you keep an open mind you’ll probably find it difficult to choose which activities to go for. You'll be able to do everything from climbing aboard an elephant to go on a jungle safari, or strolling through the jewel and antique markets in search of a bargain. Hiking through the mountains in the region also comes highly recommended. If you’d prefer to avoid the heights, head to one of Sri Lanka’s many incredible beaches. You’ll also find a number of ancient Buddhist temples to admire in the city.
Getting experience in the Physical Therapy Unit, which operates under the rheumatology department, you’ll come to understand how various wards such as the neurosurgical wards, surgical ICU, and cardiothoracics, complement one another. You’ll also get experience in the outpatient department, which uses simple gym equipment and treatments to help rehabilitate patients. In this OPD you'l diagnose and treat conditions including but not limited to cerebral palsy, strokes, fractures, burns, MSK, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
This add-on presents a highly unique opportunity to peer into a totally different world of healthcare. Ayurveda is one of the earliest recorded medicinal and spiritual practices dating back over 5000 years. In the mornings with a trained Ayurveda master you’ll learn how to make and administer this ancient ‘tree medicine’ from herbs and barks found in and around the forest. Your base will be the dwelling of our welcoming host family in a small and remote Sri Lankan village. In the afternoons you’ll join your personal guide and enjoy a sunset swims in the lake, canoeing down tranquil rivers, relaxing in an Ayurveda spa, and more.
Ghana - Takoradi
Our program in Takoradi, Ghana, was the very first we opened. After a decade of experience working with our in-country partners we proudly present it as one of the best in this list. The West African coast is regarded as one of the most beautiful coastlines on the planet. There are long stretches of golden beaches, quaint fishing villages, old colonial forts lining the coast, and beyond. What’s more, in the city of Takoradi you’ll find markets, restaurants, unusual street food options, and plenty of bars for an evening out. Physical therapy students will work in a lively department and encounter a number of cases that may seem out of the ordinary. If you’re looking for unique physical therapy internships for college students and professionals, look no further.
There are a multitude of reasons why many consider Ghana the best country on the West African coast, one reason being the striking coastline itself. Further inland you’ll discover the wild game parks and safaris, busy urban centers, remote tribal villages and more. The Volta region is a traveler’s favorite as it has a series of waterfalls flowing into one another, which are excellent for swimming in on a hot day. What's more, there are innumerous restaurants, cafes, vendors cooking and selling food on the side of the street, bars for a good night after a long day.
Going by the standards of most West African healthcare institutions our partner hospital is well equipped and very well run. Regular patients who attend numerous times each week make up the majority of the cases the outpatient unit sees. You’ll see everything from Erb’s palsy to cases of post-operative rehabilitation and beyond. The majority of the treatments on offer in this department are centered on simple gym equipment. This allows staff to train patients how to perform necessary exercises such that they can continue self-rehabilitation at home.
This add-on offers physical therapists the opportunity to head out into more remote reaches of Ghana to live and work in a small African village. You’ll live with our friendly host family who'll help you integrate into the local community during your stay. In the morning’s you’ll work in a local community clinic where you’ll gain insight into the struggles faced by health providers in such low-resource environments. Your afternoons will be spent on long stretches of empty golden beaches that are completely free from tourists, hiking to local villages, learning to cook traditional dishes with local produce, and more.
Peru - Arequipa
Peru is a brand new destination for 2015 and it has already surpassed even our own expectations. We’ve set up a base of operations in the grand city of Arequipa, famous for its beautiful white buildings (it’s also known as the White City). The city is a lively cultural center that is making an attempt to modernize, but in a way that is in line with its history and traditions. This means you’ll have many of the modern amenities you’ll be used to from home, but with a distinctly Peruvian twist. If you head beyond the city limits you’ll find mountain climbing, jungle trekking, hikes to ancient ruins and more. Practicing physical therapy in our specially selected partner hospitals will arm you with an invaluable skillset that will help you further yourself when you return home. Internships for physical therapy are seldom this comprehensive.
Arequipa is making its way into an increasingly modern world by embracing international culture. The city also enjoys an average of 300 days of sun every year, meaning there’s very little to complain about. Trek through the untamed Amazon jungle, hike along the Inca trail through valleys and up mountains to reach the weathered citadel of Machu Picchu, and row across the giant lake Titicaca to visit the floating reed villages. You’ll also be able to peer over the edge of the world’s second deepest canyon, battle white-water rapids, take to the skies while paragliding, and more.
We’ve hand picked and partnered with the one of very best departments in Arequipa. Your focus while in our partner hospital will be on both clinical and manual physiotherapy. Here you’ll come to understand the way in which staff take a holistic approach to rehabilitating patients by working closely with different departments. Aside from Bells palsy, chronic back conditions, and age related conditions, you will be heavily involved in pain management and conditions associated with the treatment of cancer.
It should go without needing to be said that understanding the needs of your patients and the staff you’ll be working with is fundamental. We’ve partnered with a local language school to offer you the chance to undertake our specially designed Intensive Spanish Course which focuses specifically on physical therapy. You'll enjoy a whole week of classes made up of sessions taught in the school’s garden. There will also be afternoon clinical role-play sessions that will aim to reproduce situations you’ll likely face on your internship. No boring grammar drills, just fun, practical language learning that you can use right away.
From our blog
We're delighted to announce that both of our bases in Nepal have been reopened. Read on to find out why we've decided to open them again and to learn how you can travel to Pokhara and Kathmandu for your elective.Read more
It's tough deciding what to do and where to go for your elective placement. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming. We've laid out the benefits of an elective at home vs. an elective overseas to help make the decision that little bit easier.Read more