Costa Rica Summer Med Program Overview
Expand your knowledge and experience in the field of medical science in the beautiful Latin American countryside. Work alongside trained medical professionals in a community where your assistance is truly appreciated. Earn up to 30 hours of community service while building your skills in real clinical settings.
For this summer med program, TFT partners with a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of families in the developing world through innovative and self-sustainable health improvement programs. We will help provide access to medical care for underprivileged and medically underserved families in Costa Rica. This program for high school students will involve a multidimensional strategy to best serve the community including clinical services, extensive community outreach efforts and health education programs.
Participants will get hands-on experience in the healthcare field, work in global health initiatives and get to be a part of sustainable development. We will work side-by-side with medical professionals who are on the front lines of providing health care to communities in need.*
Some of the hands-on projects available on-site may include collecting vitals, assisting with mobile clinics, helping with pharmaceutical organization, and organizing health education meetings. To complement our hard work we will also experience the adventurous and culturally relevant aspects of Costa Rica that make it one of the most coveted destinations in Central America to visit.
Zipline through lush rainforests, visit an animal rehabilitation center specializing in herpetology, view a green volcanic lake, hike to a half dozen waterfalls and even learn to surf in the locally acclaimed surfing village of Jaco.
*Please note that working directly in the healthcare field is dependent on the current patients in the community and service may be focused on helping other areas of need as the non-profit sees fit.
During this program, you will:
- Donate your time and energy to meaningful medical based community service projects
- Shadow medical professionals and participate in a variety of health initiatives
- Swim, surf, and sunbathe while staying at a tropical paradise along the coast
- Hike to the beautiful La Paz waterfalls
- See the unique green volcanic lake of Poas Volcano
- Visit Tortuga Island with white sand beaches and crystal clear water
- Zoom through the lush jungle canopy on an adrenaline-pumping ziplining tour
- See the abundant animal life that Costa Rica is famous for, including sloths, capuchin and howler monkeys, iguanas, parrots, toucans and more
- Take a surfing lesson at a local beach
DAY 1: DEPART FROM MIAMI (MIA)
DAYS 1-3: JACO BEACH
To begin our journey, we head to the local surf town of Jaco Beach. Here you’ll have the chance to try surfing in a hidden gem of a beach destination in Costa Rica. You’ll have the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean almost to yourself. We’ll even take a boat cruise out to Tortuga Islands hang out on the white sand beaches and snorkel the surrounding reefs looking for local marine life.
DAYS 4-11: SANTA ANA
After a few days of fun at the beach, we’ll head to our home base in the beautiful Latin American country of Costa Rica, a short distance from the capital city of San Jose in beautiful Santa Ana. We will have access to incredible waterfalls, lush rainforests, and a community where we can enhance our skills in the field of medicine.
Our partner organization addresses the community’s most
pressing issues by offering primary care services and patient education. The clinic also maintains a psychologist to address mental health issues that often accompany poverty and immigration. We will help provide families with the tools necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Projects include working alongside trained healthcare professionals in mobile clinics, assisting with taking vitals of local patients, shadowing psychology appointments, and creating wellness programs for those in need.
When we’re not giving back to the local community we’ll have the chance to hike to a bubbling green volcanic lake at Poas Volcano, go ziplining and hike to five waterfalls! There is even a Herpetology Rehabilitation center located in Santa Ana where we can see some of Costa Rica’s most exotic animals on their way back to good health.
DAY 11: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE STATES
Authenticity is ingrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.
"Thank you so much for everything that you did to make this such an incredible experience! Gable said it was one of the best times in her life and from her enormous smile in literally EVERY photo, I know that is true."
"We are so grateful for everything! We love the incredible trip you have put together for the kids. The cultural experiences they are getting coupled with the service is amazing. Every day we look forward to all the pictures and the nightly summary email. It gives us a real sense of what our girls are actually doing and even lets us feel like we are a part of their journey. We are so impressed with the communication, the extensive planning and all the documentation. We love seeing the pictures!"
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is unique about the Costa Rica: Healthcare Education & Medical Outreach trip?
Costa Rica: Healthcare Education & Medical Outreach participants have hands-on opportunities to learn about medicine and healthcare in developing communities. In addition, our participants have the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s hidden treasures. Participants who are interested in learning more about the medical field will find this program fulfilling and meaningful!
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
What do students like most about the Costa Rica: Healthcare Education & Medical Outreach trip?
Our future healthcare providers truly love the layout of our trip! Costa Rica: Healthcare Education & Medical Outreach gives our participants the opportunity to explore Costa Rican culture while also being able to give back to the community. Our service projects are not only educational, they are also meaningful. Come get an introduction to clinicals, train alongside Costa Rican healthcare workers and even work with youth groups!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
The food in Costa Rica is delicious! Expect to eat seasoned rice, beans, chicken, steak, tropical fruit and veggies, plantains, and many other foods flavored with unique Caribbean spices! Vegetarians will have no issues eating well on the trip. Also, unlike in Europe where a light breakfast of coffee and toast is the norm, ticos (Costa Ricans) eat big, savory breakfasts—and so will we!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
All US citizens that enter Costa Rica are automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!