Becoming an Esperança Volunteer Surgeon
A surgical team must consist of at least one surgeon (typically the team leader), an anesthesiologist, and an OR nurse tech. Team leaders assemble their own teams and act as the main point of contact for mission coordination purposes. Missions take place over the course of one week (Saturday to Saturday) in Nicaragua and Peru. Volunteers should allow for a full day of travel on the outbound and return.
We have partnered staff in the host country as well as the assistance of local physicians and medical staff who volunteer their time to our volunteer surgical program. Surgical trips are scheduled anywhere from four months to two years in advance. Teams typically have five full days of surgery, with the option to lead educational presentations/trainings for medical residents and local physicians a few evenings during their stay.
Important Things to Know
Gynecology: Incontinence - bladder repair (TVT, TOT) hysterectomy, cystectomy, herniorrhaphy, colporrhaphy
Ophthalmologic: Cataracts and pterygia
Pediatric Cholecystectomy, hernia repair
Orthopedic: Fracture repair, carpal tunnel decompression, arthroscopy
Plastic surgery: Burn/ injury reconstruction, cleft lip and palate repair
Urology Prostate resection, radical prostatectomy
La Dalia, Nicaragua
Frequently Asked Questions
Think you're ready for a surgical mission with us?
In order to start the application process, please email Esperança’s International Program Director, Anna Ortiz, to discuss details about your interests and possible dates. Once your mission dates and team members are finalized, Esperança will provide you with the volunteer application and proceed with processing your documents. The application process requires that each team member submit copies of their license, diploma, CV, etc.
We look forward to building a relationship with you as a member of our Volunteer Surgical Program. Your generous donation of time, talents, and resources is truly appreciated. We thank you for joining us in this precious life changing work.
Already a Surgeon with us?
See how to prepare for a mission below
Preparing for your mission
If outdoors, prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats; apply DEET insect repellent to exposed skin. Since the same diseases that afflict humans in temperate climates can be magnified in the tropics, all travelers should be in good health. Any person with a chronic ailment should not consider volunteering for work in this remote region.
Most infectious diarrhea is caused by fecal contamination; therefore, it is absolutely necessary that proper hygiene be maintained during a trip to the tropics. Regular hand washing is a must, as are precautions with food and drink, especially in public places. Fresh salads and ice should be avoided when eating in restaurants; if it is not thoroughly cooked, bottled or something that you can peel, do not eat it.
It is best to take an anti-diarrheal drug, effective insect repellent with DEET, SPF35 sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. If traveling to Peru, consult with your doctor about Diamox for altitude sickness.
Nicaragua: U.S. dollars may be exchanged for Cordovas (Nicaraguan currency) upon arrival at the airport or at a Cambio in town, however, most places will accept american currency. Exchange rates vary but you will receive approximately 24 Cordovas for every dollar. There are ATMs available that dispense both U.S. and Nicaraguan currency. There is a $10 entry fee that is paid at the immigration in the airport.
Peru: U.S Dollars may be exchanges for Soles upon arrival at the airport or at the Hotel you stay in. It is always a good idea to contact your banking institutions to let them know of your travel plans. This will help prevent any measures that the bank may take on your behalf, such as freezing your account.
Many volunteers use online email, online chat, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, and other applications to stay in contact with loved ones during their missions. You can make outgoing phone calls from the hotels. To make the most of your money, you can purchase a calling card. Another option is to bring an unlocked GSM cell phone (T-Mobile or AT&T carriers) and purchase pre-paid minutes for just a few dollars.
Breakfasts are served at your hotel, lunches are served to you at the hospital, and dinners are at a local restaurant. Snacks, water and coffee are provided to you throughout the day. In Nicaragua, meals typically include a meat, French fries, rice, beans, and plantain. In Peru, meals tend to have a meat, salad, noodles, potatoes, soups, or pizza.
If you have special dietary restrictions or allergies, please let us know beforehand. We will do our best to accommodate your dietary needs. There are vegetarian options at most restaurants although variety may be limited. Feel free to bring snacks from home. You can also stop at the local market or grocery store and buy some snacks.
You can make outgoing phone calls from the hotels. To make the most of your money, you can purchase a calling card. Another option is to bring an unlocked GSM cell phone (T-Mobile or AT&T carriers) and purchase pre-paid minutes for just a few dollars.
Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type found in the US, though some facilities have been noted to use the 2 rounded prongs instead.
We stay on top of travel alerts and warnings that are issued by the U.S. Department of State. When a warning is issued for the country we work in, our policy is to cancel the surgical mission. Local staff will also alert us immediately of any unrest.
Click here for general safety tips when traveling abroad: Nicaragua or Peru
Peru: Due to the remote nature of our work in peru, it is best to pack for a wide range of temperatures. You will enter the country and depart from Cusco, which is typically between 30 - 70 degrees F. All of your surgical work will be in Abancay, where it is typically in the upper 70's. Peru's rainy season runs from December - March, and is typically dry otherwise. Dressing in layers is recommended as well as packing a light rain jacket.
Peru: After landing in Lima, you will take a smaller plane to Cusco. You will then take a truck or mini-bus to the small town of Abancay where you will be working. Transportation is provided daily between the hotel and hospital. Low fare taxis are always available and walking is another option as both surgical program sites are safe locations.