Medical Electives in Mexico | Global Medical Projects

Medical Electives in Mexico

Our medical elective placements in Mexico are based in the cosmopolitan city of Guadalajara and picturesque coastal town or Puerto Vallarta. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city so placements here are diverse and challenging. Puerto Vallarta is a tourist town on the Pacific Coast, so electives here are ideal for you if you’re interested in a more relaxed pace and being close to the beach!

We work with a number of partner hospitals, ranging from large multi-disciplinary hospitals to small specialist clinics. You will initially be placed in a general hospital and specialist emergency clinic. These are the placements where more of the staff speak and understand English and provide an excellent induction. If you already have conversational Spanish or once your Spanish has improved, we can then arrange a bespoke placement to suit your objectives, as few medics in other specialties will speak English. With a population of 10 million people, Guadalajara has a host of regional referral hospitals so nearly all specialties can be catered for.

Most of the hospitals we work with are funded by the Mexican Red Cross or the local government. Medical provision in Mexico is not free. These hospitals provide low cost medical services to those who are unable to afford expensive insurance and so they are always grateful for any help and additional resources that you can bring. This means that an elective in Mexico is more of a pure volunteer experience where you can play an active role, put your skills to use and help to make a difference, rather than just observe.

The electives in Mexico are particularly good if you’re interested in emergency medicine or pre-hospital care. As a medical student you are welcome to join our paramedic program and can spend all of your elective based with the emergency paramedics or you can elect to combine your time on a traditional hospital based medical elective with a time on the ambulances. Combining your elective with time on the ambulances is only an additional £100 / AUS$200 / US$160 /120€.

Although all our projects in Mexico include a basic Spanish course in your first week, it is useful if you have at least some basic Spanish before joining the medical project in Mexico. If you have no Spanish or are not confident that your Spanish is quite up to scratch we would recommend starting your elective in Puerto Vallarta where more staff and patients speak English.

Alternatively, we are happy to recommend a good one week Spanish course. Many on our medical projects spend time helping in orphanages or schools in the afternoons. This is a great way to give something back to the community that is teaching you so much.


There are a number of larger hospitals and regional referral centers in Guadalajara. Guadalajara is the state capital of Jalisco and as such most complicated or serious cases from the outlying towns and districts are referred to hospitals in Guadalajara which means that we can arrange a bespoke elective to suit nearly all objectives. Contact us to discuss your objectives.

Our most popular placements are the general hospital and specialist emergency clinic in the district of Zapopan. Both are funded by the government and people present to these hospitals and clinics if they can’t afford health insurance and treatment in more expensive private hospitals.

Typical shifts here are two 6 hour day shifts (early and late) and a 12 hour night shift. You can choose your shift patterns, most electing to work the busier later day shift and weekends with a couple of days off during the week for travelling.

Puerto Vallarta

The placements in Puerto Vallarta are slightly different to those in Guadalajara. Puerto Vallarta is a tourist area famed for it’s great beaches, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. As such, the hospitals here cater not only for the local population but also for tourists, the expatriate community and also medical tourists.

Our placement is at the main government hospital in Puerto Vallarta.

The facility includes four intensive care beds, three operating rooms, pre-op and post-recovery rooms and rooms for overnight stays.

The hospital’s medical facilities are the first to offer health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the people of Puerto Vallarta, and the only specialised Radiology clinic in Western Mexico.

Indigenous Indian community outreach

We also have opportunities to spend part of your time delivering medical care in rural communities caring for the indigenous Huichol. The Huichol community predate the Spanish conquistadors and are located in isolated communities high in the Sierra Madre Mountains. On this project, you will have the opportunity to work alongside the community doctor as well as learn more about traditional indigenous medical practices. This placement is very different to life in the cities or even towns. You will live amongst the Huichol community in the mountains in very basic living conditions. Part of this additional programme includes learning Wixarika, the dialect spoken by the Huichol.


Cost in £

2 weeks3 weeks4 weeks5 weeks6 weeks

Cost in Euros

2 weeks3 weeks4 weeks5 weeks6 weeks

Cost in US $

2 weeks3 weeks4 weeks5 weeks6 weeks

Cost in Auz $

2 weeks3 weeks4 weeks5 weeks6 weeks

Cost in £

Extra weeksExtra monthsLanguage courseOrphanage projectHuichol Project
£250£995£100 (per week)£200£495

Cost in Euros

Extra weeksExtra monthsLanguage courseOrphanage projectHuichol project
300€1,195€135€ (per week)135€395€

Cost in US $

Extra weeksExtra monthsLanguage courseOrphanage projectHuichol project
$360$1,445$160 (per week)$240$595

Cost in Auz $

Extra weeksExtra monthsLanguage courseOrphanage projectHuichol project

Other Destination Information

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The main base of our projects in Mexico is Guadalajara but we also operate projects in satellite locations in Puerto Vallarta. The accommodation depends on where you are based but it is either with local families or in group, hostel type, accommodation. We have home stay accommodation at our main base in Guadalajara and group accommodation in Puerto Vallarta. You will share this accommodation with others on our medical, media and volunteer projects.

The standard of the accommodation will be basic but good by local standards.  It won’t be quite what you are used to at home so please don’t expect all mod cons, but it will be clean and tidy. Accommodation usually has hot and cold running water and electricity, but both occasionally fail so cold showers may take some getting used to! Hot water for showers is not always important for local people used to hot climates and cold showers can be quite refreshing after a hot day at work.

We will place you with other volunteers, which means that you are never far away from someone to socialise with in the evenings. All our project locations are within easy travelling distance, so volunteers from all the projects usually get together at a central meeting point to go travelling at weekends or just chill out by the beach.

Our staff will be on hand during office hours if you have any general queries and only a phone call away outside office hours if there’s something much more urgent.

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Highlights – Guadalajara

Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, and home to Mariachi, The Mexican Sombrero and Tequila!

The town of Tequila is a popular weekend trip. Visit the factories and farms to see how the drink is made and maybe even try a drop – the good stuff is a lot smoother than the fire water you may have tried before!

Mexico sits on one of the most active fault lines in the world and the Jalisco countryside is dotted with volcanic domes. The more adventurous amongst you can trek the dormant volcano at Paricutin or the active and still smooking volcano at Colima!


Guadalajara usually experiences 322 days of sunshine a year and average temperatures between 68F (20C) and 85F (30C). Sometimes in the morning the humidity can make things a little uncomfortable, but this almost always eases off by the middle of the day. Rainfall is heavier in June and October, often, in these months, falling for one or two hours in the afternoon.

Money matters

You will have weekends free to travel and visit the sights so do take some spending money for food, accommodation and souvenirs.

Exactly how much to take is a matter of great debate but most who have travelled to Mexico recommend that you could probably get by allowing £75-£100 per weekend spending money. If you can, take a little extra just in case to allow for emergencies or those ‘must have’ souvenirs.

You cannot get Mexican currency outside of Mexico so it’s best to take your spending money as pre-loaded travel cards or cash. Credit and debit cards are also widely accepted in Mexico. You can usually draw money out on credit and debit cards from most ATM machines at banks in Mexico. This is probably the easiest way to access your spending money but shouldn’t be relied upon and bank charges for this can be high.

You can take cash as sterling, Euros or US dollars. All are easy to change in Mexico.

Arrival Information

You should arrange your flights to arrive at Guadalajara International Airport (GDL). A number of international carriers fly to Guadalajara, including Continental, American Airlines and Alaskan Airways. During the summer it’s also possible to find cheap deals from some UK airports direct to Guadalajara.

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Country Director – Ariel Duenas

Ariel Duenas is one of the most experienced overseas managers at Global Medical Projects. He has been arranging overseas placements in Mexico for over ten years.

A keen conservationist, Ariel was instrumental in setting up our turtle projects on the Pacific coast of Mexico and often visits the turtle camp with his family and faithful dog to help out at weekends, the ideal weekend getaway for those on our medical projects.

Ariel is passionate about Mexico and deeply committed to ensuring everyone who joins us in Mexico thoroughly enjoys the experience.

During his ten years arranging projects in Mexico, Ariel has built up and extensive network on contacts throughout Mexico which has enabled us to offer such unique and demanding programmes.

[/accordion-item][/accordion] Photos from our projects in Mexico (on Facebook, opens in new tab)

Our Costs Include:

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Accommodation on your project will be with either local families or in group accommodation. You exact accommodation depends on the number of volunteers and your project.

All accommodation is checked by our overseas staff and host families vetted. If you don’t feel comfortable in your accommodation, do please let us know as soon as possible and our overseas staff will do their best to make you more comfortable.

However, please keep in mind that you will be living in lesser economically developed countries so please don’t expect the same standards as home. Access to running water, electricity and other things that we take for granted WILL be limited but we’ll do our best to make sure you have the best that’s possible.

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Our UK team is on hand to answer any questions that may pop up before you go. Please don’t hesitate to call or email to chat about anything that may be concerning you. You should especially not worry about asking any questions you may consider that we’ll think is stupid. The chances are that we probably asked exactly the same questions before we headed off on our travels!

You will receive pre-departure information that will tell you more about your accommodation and placement. This will arrive about 4 weeks before you depart. We can’t send you this immediately as exactly where you stay depends on the numbers that join us. However, by 4 weeks before you depart we will have a good idea of how many people are joining us and we’ll finalise the details of your accommodation.

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Arriving in a new country for the first time can be quite daunting so our overseas team will be there to meet you with a big sign and even bigger welcome!

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We think that it’s important to give you a thorough introduction to your new home for the next few months therefore, our overseas team will give you an induction and orientation covering everything you need to know from basic customs to where to change money.

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Our overseas team are not just there to meet you at the airport. They’re also not there to molly cuddle you either. Our overseas team is on hand during office hours to do anything they can to help you get the most out of your experience. You will also be given out of office contact details to be used in the event of emergencies, so please rest assured that in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong, our overseas team will be there to help in whatever way they can.

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We have worked carefully to develop links with medical staff at hospitals and clinics in all our partner countries. It takes time for our overseas teams to develop and maintain these links so that we can continue to offer you the best medical experience possible.

We think it’s fair that the hospital should receive something in return for supporting you and Global Medical Projects so part of the project cost includes a donation to your host hospital.

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During your time with us we will make sure that your food is provided. Please note that sometimes this will be provided by your host family and sometimes by your host organisation. Where this is the case it is extremely likely that this food will be local food. Most of the time this will not quite be what we’re used to and can take some time to get used to. Rest assured it will be hygienically prepared and nutritious but it will be difficult for them to prepare foods which you are used to at home.

We’re sure that for most of you, eating the local food is part of the experience. If you don’t like the food, we urge you to try to persevere. Ultimately, if you are just not enjoying the experience we will do our best to make alternative arrangements. Please keep in mind however, that the availability of western foods maybe extremely limited and/or expensive so it may not always be possible to change things that much!

Most people elect to go travelling at weekends, so food isn’t always available at this time, particularly in those locations where we have our own accommodation as we often give the cooks the weekend off.


Not Included:

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We’re not a travel company, and as such we do not arrange flights. However, we can help you to make the necessary arrangements and suggest people to speak to.

Additionally, many people join us as part of a world trip so it’s often easier for you to arrange your travel as part of a round the world ticket.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like help arranging your flights.

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As many people join us as part of a world trip, we do not include insurance as part of the projects. However, we are happy to introduce good companies that can provide you with excellent and affordable cover.

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You will need additional spending money for travel to work, weekend excursions and gifts. Exactly how much to take is a matter of great debate but contact us and we’ll be happy to give you a rough guideline on how much you will need.

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Many of the destinations require you to purchase a visa. We can arrange the visas for you but this will be an additional cost of up to £100.

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Most of our countries will require you to be inoculated against diseases that have been eradicated at home. We can advise on which inoculations you will need but will encourage you to visit your doctor or a local travel clinic where they will discuss the best vaccinations for you.

Some of these vaccinations will incur costs so budget accordingly.

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We’re happy to provide food when you are on a projects with us or staying in our accommodation but when travelling you will need to buy your own food. In most countries good local food is incredibly cheap. Western food is a luxury and is priced accordingly!


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