WHAT IS AN OVERSEAS PHYSICAL THERAPY INTERNSHIP WITH WORK THE WORLD?

A physical therapy internship abroad is your chance to do a clinical placement in a low-resource hospital in the developing world.

You’ll see a huge difference between the local healthcare system and what you’re used to. You’ll also learn about practices you’ve never encountered before — electrotherapy and wax baths for example.

You’ll see uncommon conditions like clubfoot and spina bifida, and learn how limited resources affect the care provided — handmade rehabilitation equipment for example, or how ECT is still used extensively.

physical therapy internships

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A PHYSICAL THERAPY INTERNSHIP ABROAD?

An internship with us helps you (and your resumé) stand out from the high volume of physio students graduating each year.

With us, you’ll:

  • Expand your clinical knowledge and skill set
  • Sharpen your communication skills
  • Develop your confidence and resourcefulness
  • Build your personal and professional network
  • Become more attractive to employers

Hospital placements run Monday to Friday. That means your evenings and weekends are free to explore a country you might never again have the opportunity to visit.

Who are we? 

We're Work the World — The experts in planning, building and overseeing physical therapy internships abroad. We started in 2005, and since then we've created internships for 13,000+ students from 400+ universities globally.

 

Our service is personal, and it includes:

A customized internship in a destination of your choice | Comprehensive pre-trip preparation | 24/7 in-country support | Private, catered accommodation

 

You arrive in-country on any Sunday you choose (52 weeks a year). Internship durations start from two weeks.

 

Click here for more detail about how our service works.

Am i eligible?

You can go on a physical therapy internship abroad if:

  • You are enrolled in a physical therapy degree program
  • You have graduated with a professional physical therapy degree

WHERE DO I START?

Talk with us. Our team will answer your questions, and offer a clearer picture of what you can expect.

To speak to a member of our team complete the inquiry form at the bottom of the page, or use our live chat during opening hours.

physical therapy electives abroad

DESTINATIONS

Mexico - Merida
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Merida is the cultural capital of Mexico with striking colonial architecture, lush central plazas and bustling boulevards. In the evenings, the city transforms with restaurants and bars in full swing. Beyond the city, you’ll dive in beautiful underwater caves or ‘cenotes’, relax on tropical beaches, and visit breathtaking Mayan temples.

 

In the hospital we’re partnered with, the physical therapyx team attend to a breadth of cases — from everyday aches, pains and strains to severe burns. Alongside local specialists, you’ll also help to rehabilitate patients with neurological disorders like stroke and Bell’s palsy, and work-related injuries. In another, more modern partner hospital, you could gain experience with patients needing respiratory therapy and post-surgical patients.

Peru - Arequipa
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Arequipa is a fusion of old and new — traditional textile markets and food stalls take root beside colonial buildings, which house all the modern amenities a traveler like yourself could need. At the weekend, explore the Amazon jungle, visit Lake Titicaca’s floating villages, and trek to the Machu Picchu ruins.

 

On your Physical Therapy Internship here you’ll encounter a holistic approach. This approach will be a striking contrast to Western rehabilitation programs. You could also be gaining experience with patients from poorer sections of Peruvian society, allowing you to encounter a unique array of conditions. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.

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Vietnam - Hue
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A bustling hub of Southeast Asian culture and popular with backpackers. Busy markets, popular bars and delicious street food across the city. Nearby, find tropical beaches, rainforests, and ancient temples and pagodas.

 

Our partner institution in Hue is a university teaching hospital, meaning that the Rehabilitation Department you’ll spend time in has exceptional experience coaching physical therapists. You’ll gain a breadth of experience helping to rehabilitate patients with everything from severe burns to paediatric spina bifida caused by Agent Orange that still affects children generations after its use in the Vietnam War. As this is a low-resource clinical setting, you’ll also see how local staff cope with a lack of modern equipment.

Zambia - Lusaka
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Lusaka is the bustling capital city of Zambia. While here you can visit any number of the country’s 20 game parks and see rhino, lions, elephants and cheetah. You can even canoe along the shore of the great Zambezi river to watch hippos wading. Immersing yourself in the rich local cultures and traditions so ingrained in Zambian tribal culture is a highlight.

 

When it comes to the kinds of clinical experience you’ll get in the Physical Therapy Department, it’s all about diversity. You could spend time in the clubfoot clinic, in the hospital’s specialized gym, orthopedics, respiratory therapy, gaining experience with patients with neuro disorders, amputees, burns patients, and even seeing how the department creates its own molds and prostheses.

Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest
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Sprawling from the banks of the mighty Mekong river, Cambodia’s capital city is one of contrasts. Marketplaces replete with faux branded accessories line up next to Buddhist temples shrouded in ancient mystery. Sample traditional street food, explore the city's dazzling nightlife, boat along the river to discover rural rice paddies, or enjoy the crystal waters off the coast.

 

A Physical Therapy Internship in Cambodia will highlight how your overseas counterparts cope with severely limited resources. Using hand-made equipment, you’ll assist in the treatment of patients presenting an extraordinary range of conditions, from meningitis to cerebral palsy. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Phnom Penh.

Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest

Philippines - Iloilo
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Iloilo sits on the coast of a paradise island in the Philippines, surrounded by white sand beaches and tropical jungles. The city itself is a cultural hub with bars, seafront cafes, markets, and a budding art scene.

 

On a Physical Therapy Internship here, you can spend time with local specialists in departments that treat both patients from the city and surrounding villages. You might also find yourself helping to rehabilitate cases of cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries, as well as observing traumatic brain injury surgeries. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.

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Nepal - Pokhara
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Pokhara is a relaxed and welcoming city nestled in the rolling Himalayan foothills. Seek out awe-inspiring mountain top views, tour the city’s ornate temples, and paraglide above the still waters of Phewa lake.

 

On a Physical Therapy Internship here, you could be assisting in a specialist rehabilitation hospital, which, by Nepalese standards, is well-equipped. Show proactivity on placement and you could learn from professionals on cases of soft tissue injury, stroke rehabilitation, and neuromuscular disorders. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.

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Sri Lanka - Kandy
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Kandy is a nerve-center of culture, ancient temples, bars, restaurants, and markets. You can also go whitewater rafting, on safari, and ride in a hot-air balloon over jungle canopies.

 

On a Physical Therapy internship here you could spend time in a teaching hospital that actively promotes patient interaction. This means you could be assisting with the rehabilitation of stroke, MSK, and burns patients. Time in the busy Outpatient Department will provide insight into Sri Lanka’s more commonly occurring conditions. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.

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Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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Dar es Salaam is one of Tanzania’s most lively cities, and just beyond its borders you’ll find mountains, and jungles. During your stay you’ll be able to go on safari, take a boat to the tropical island of Zanzibar, and explore the beautiful national park.

 

On a Physical Therapy Internship here, you could be assisting with cases resulting from the many road and construction accidents that occur here daily. The use of dated equipment and machinery in this low resource environment will bring to the fore the challenges local staff face. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Nepal - Kathmandu
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Kathmandu’s history spans thousands of years. The ageing temples and stupas that punctuate the city streets make this clear. Modernity has left its mark, however—motorbikes speed down winding lanes, monks chatter on mobile phones, and many restaurants now serve both traditional and western dishes.

 

Physical Therapy  is a rapidly evolving practice in Nepal. On an internship here, you’ll observe how the discipline is developing in comparison to Western practices. Cases of stroke, cerebral palsy, and burns are all common cases here, and through spending time in our partner hospitals you could gaining direct experience with them. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Sri Lanka - Anuradhapura
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Anuradhapura is melting pot of the ancient and the new. Sacred temples and opulent palaces share turf with modern bars and busy markets. Further afield, try safari in the national parks, scuba dive in crystal clear waters, and kick back on paradise beaches.

 

On a Physical Therapy Internship here, you could be learning how local specialists treat amputees left by the Sri Lankan civil war with limited and outdated equipment. The Physical Therapy Unit also works in the Neurosurgical and Surgical ICU Wards, so the chance to broaden your experience exists as much as you’re willing to take advantage of it. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.

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Ghana - Takoradi
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Takoradi is a lively town on Africa’s West coast. It’s a center of both historical and natural attractions — ageing coastal forts, waterfalls, safari parks, and rural villages all lie close by — making it the perfect jumping off point for adventure.

 

A proactive attitude on a Physical Therapy Internship here could see you helping to rehabilitate patients with a variety of conditions. These could include strokes, burns, and Erb’s Palsy. You could also gain experience with post-op rehabilitation, learning how specialists tackle this with limited equipment. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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"I came home realising that despite being overstretched and understaffed, their system works."

Siwan Jones, Cardiff University 2018

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"I was able to experience physiotherapy in a challenging and entirely different environment"

Greg Ireland, Glasgow Caledonian University 2018

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"In some wards there were two patients to a bed. Sometimes there were patients on the floor."

Olivia Ritchie, Glasgow Caledonian University 2018

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"I developed my existing skills, and gained insight into equipment and pathologies I had never even seen before."

Elly Cave, University of Birmingham 2018

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If you’re thinking about going on a placement abroad, I couldn’t recommend it enough!

Ellena Gilson, University of Birmingham 2018

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