“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.”

– Goethe
Floating Doctors Organizational Chart

Although the muscles of Floating Doctors are our volunteers, the sinews and bones that provide the structure and support are our remarkable Leadership.

Our leadership fulfills a variety of medical and non-medical roles, for varying lengths of time. Please click here to download a PDF summary of our leadership opportunities, or scroll down for descriptions.

Although our leaders come to serve, no one who has worked on a Floating Doctors team leaves without significant gains in competence operating in challenging circumstances, and many of our leadership go on to continue working in international development after their time with us.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Please email [email protected] to see what positions may be currently available.

Leadership Role Descriptions

Executive Director

Position: Executive Director

Summary: The Executive Director (ED) reports to the CEO of Floating Doctors and will function as the chief operating officer in Panama ensuring sustainable, transparent, and efficient operations and stewardship of both human and financial resources for the execution of the mission of Floating Doctors. The ED will provide the leadership and management direction necessary to ensure that the organization creates and implements the proper operational policies and controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and people systems. By fostering an inclusive and transparent culture, ensuring financial strength and driving operating efficiency, the ED will be responsible for establishing operational stability, developing its resiliency and positioning it for future growth.  

Key Job Responsibilities: 

  • Execute the Floating Doctors’ mission by balancing both the organizational goals and needs of the on-the-ground staff and client population in Panama.  
  • Establish and oversee all program delivery in Panama. As such they will direct and organize the work of the operations teams. 
  • Supervise the operations of the various clinics of Floating Doctors.
  • Present at quarterly Board meetings of Floating Doctors and communicate Board-set goals and expectations to Panama-based team.
  • Propose specific mission objectives and strategic initiatives that promote the effectiveness of Floating Doctors in program delivery.
  • Develop, implement and support policies and procedures that ensure a transparent, inclusive and supportive culture and otherwise enhance the organizational mission.
  • Manage the leadership team made up of Panama-based managers including but not limited to:  Operations Manager, Facilities Manager, Financial Controller, and any program-level directors (e.g. Medical Director, Dental Director, Veterinary Director). (See Organizational Chart)
  • Provide support to the leadership team who in turn manage the Panama-based team of Fellowships and Support Personnel. Establish and monitor staff performance and developmental goals, assign accountabilities, set individual objectives, establish priorities, conduct regular performance appraisals, and recommend salary adjustments. (See Organizational Chart)
  • Evaluate overall program effectiveness through interpretation of data and metrics.
  • Manage and support relationships with partners, vendors, community organizations, providers, and businesses that make the mission possible.
  • Interface with volunteers and teams when able by aiming to participate in one single-day clinic and one multi-day clinic per month.
  • Maintain adequate financial controls and records to ensure proper expenditures and reporting to achieve legal and regulatory compliance with obligations to the Board, donors, granting organizations, and regulatory agencies.
  • Ensure that funds that are raised are directly applied to activities that fulfill the mission of Floating Doctors – maximizing the use of donated funds for direct service for the people in the service areas of the facilities in Panama. 
  • Represent the organization, its mission and activities in a transparent and ethical manner at all times to all people and organizations.
  • Recruit, train, and supervise necessary staff for the provision of direct services and proper administration. 
  • File timely and accurate reports to all applicable governmental and regulatory agencies as required.
  • Upgrade and implement an appropriate system of policies, internal controls, accounting standards, and procedures.

 Required Qualifications:

  • Spanish and English fluency
  • Education and/or work experience in finance (MBA desirable)
  • Minimum 1-year commitment (3-year desirable)
  • Commitment to living full-time on the Floating Doctors Base on Isla San Cristobal, Panama for a minimum of the first 6 months in the position; option to continue to live on Base or move to independent housing in Bocas del Toro after 6 months.
  • Experience leading a young organization into maturity 
  • Experience managing people in a leadership capacity
  • Established track record and experience building diverse, cross-functional teams and fostering a collaborative, decentralized work environment uniting a diverse group of remotely-located international staff and colleagues

Operations Manager

Position: Operations Manager

Floating Doctors is looking for a supremely organized and motivated individual to oversee our field operations in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The Operations Manager will work together with the US-based leadership and in-country team to supervise and manage program activities for Floating Doctors.

Applicant qualifications:

  • 1+ years of management experience overseeing at least 5 employees preferred
  • Spanish proficiency
  • Previous NGO field experience desirable
  • Passion for global health
  • Strong inter-personal skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Flexibility/openness a must


  • Ensure all established organizational policies are adhered to
  • Establish new policies and procedures that align with the organization’s overall goals and objectives
  • Maintains and updates existing guidelines related to the Operations Manager role and oversees reconciliation of leadership guidelines
  • Implements standards of performance, safety policies and procedures and make policy changes as necessary with approval of executive team
  • Responsible for training and supervision of leadership interns and ensuring adherence to operational guidelines
  • Supervision of and coordination with lead positions to ensure smooth operations

Length: Minimum 6-month commitment with possibility of extension.

Compensation: Lodging, Meals, Living Stipend

Facilities Manager

Position: Facilities Manager

The Facilities Manager (FM) is a vital part of the boat that keeps everyone afloat at Floating Doctors. As the FM, your job is to ensure all grounds, boats, and systems are safe at all times. You may not be an expert in all the systems that you are responsible for, but you know who to call and how to trouble-shoot any issue that comes up. You are a problem-solver to the core and know when to call in expert advice. You are responsible for coordinating food, gas, and supply purchases for the Base. You will help monitor and coordinate repairs, address and problem-solve safety and resource concerns, and ensure that our grounds and kitchen crews are guided in their duties.

Minimum Commitment:  12 months

Start Date:  Flexible

Probation:  60 days

Status:  Full Time

Benefits:  Housing & Meals Provided, Living Stipend.

We are looking for a detail-oriented, adaptable problem solver to supervise our Panamanian staff and manage the maintenance, repair and development of our physical infrastructure in Panama.  Must be a very good communicator able to work well in a large, mixed-group setting in a challenging environment.


  • Work with other Floating Doctors Leadership & Volunteers
    • Submit expense reports, requests for funds, or other requested reports in a timely fashion
    • Conduct boat safety/facilities briefing at New Volunteer orientation
    • Coordinate regular emergency training drills
    • Update and develop facilities guidelines and protocols
    • Coordinate with Operations Manager and other leadership for emergency transportation needs or rescues
    • Occasionally participate in clinical deployments as needed for translation or logistics assistance
    • Maintain good communication with volunteers / leadership to address maintenance issues in a timely fashion
  • Supervise Panamanian Base Staff:  Grounds Crew, Kitchen Crew, Boat Captains and Night Watchmen/Security 
    • Confirm weekly hours for direct reporting employees
    • Ensure adherence by staff to protocols and fulfillment of job duties
    • Coordinating training for new staff or continued development for existing staff
    • Handle performance issues as needed
    • Coordinate with other management team to resolve employee issues
  • Oversee Kitchen 
    • Ensure low wastage
    • Conduct ongoing optimization/cost-reduction training
    • Ensure equipment is maintained in good repair and order
    • Oversee food & produce ordering/delivery
  • Oversee Marine Infrastructure:  Boats, Docks, Maritime Equipment
    • Ensure boats and associated equipment are kept in working order and that repairs are conducted promptly and well
    • Ensure regular maintenance is completed
    • Coordinate major repairs and seek sources of support for upgrades or replacements
    • Work to develop and expand our fleet and marine facilities
    • Ensure docks and dock facilities are maintained and in good repair 
    • Occasionally drive boats on clinical deployments (if qualified)
  • Oversee Volunteer Base:
    • Ensure that the Volunteer Base is maintained in good repair
    • Manage repairs promptly 
    • Ensure cleaning staff conduct scheduled daily/weekly cleaning 
    • Ensure regular/ annual maintenance (solar battery bank inspection, fire extinguisher recertification, smoke alarm battery change, fumigation, etc.) 
    • Coordinate facility consumables replacement (cleaning supplies, propane gas, etc.)
    • Coordinate with Onsite Management and Executive teams to promote facilities development and expansion
  • Control Fuel Supply
    • Hold the key to the fuel locker and dispense / track fuel usage according to protocol
    • Ensure accuracy of requested fuel amounts /audit of fuel log
    • Coordinate the purchase and delivery of fuel supply


  • Experience in Management / Facilities Management Desirable
  • Must have Spanish and English proficiency
  • Excellent personnel management skills and conflict resolution skills
  • Effective communication skills both written and verbal 
  • Proficient with MS Office
  • Safety-oriented and good situational awareness
  • Excellent organization and collaboration skills
  • Able to work with people of diverse backgrounds
  • Must be able to act calmly and effectively in busy, highly dynamic environments
  • Physically able to lift at least 35 pounds and carry it 100 yards; able to get into and out of small boats unassisted
  • Small boat driving experience a strong plus
  • Willingness to occasionally undertake prolonged small boat journeys in inclement weather and sleep overnight in remote wilderness settings.

Lead Medical Provider

Position: Lead Medical Provider
Minimum Commitment: 4 Months

Experienced and motivated people to coordinate and lead the medical staff and volunteers and to work with our Operations Managers to supervise program activities for Floating Doctors, Panama.


As a Lead Medical Provider with Floating Doctors, you will be positioned to gain a unique medical knowledge and skill set, profoundly impact the quality and ethos of medical care all over the world for years to come, inspire a greater commitment to global stewardship, and maybe–if you approach this work with a sincere desire to do no more than be in the best service to our patients you can be–you might help win a few victories for humanity along the way.

This Fellowship therefore differs from most international service opportunities because its goal is not just improving health outcomes and capacity, but also to facilitate you becoming a stronger health professional, equipped and motivated to be a powerful advocate for excellence, compassion, and a better future for patients and clinicians worldwide.

This Fellowship includes five pillars:

  • Pillar One — Direct Patient Care:
    • Provide care for patients in FD mobile clinics, base clinic, house calls, and emergency calls. 
      1. Wide variety of patients attended; while approximately 60% of our consults are pediatric, we attend all age groups and genders
      2. Wide variety of common and uncommon, acute, chronic, and emergency conditions
    • Working up patients from beginning to end, without referring patients out as easily as you would be able to at home. 
      1. Value of access to referral services
      2. Value of reduced fragmentation of care in resource-rich settings
    • Attend patients with care and compassion 
      1. Provide the highest quality care possible for each
      2. Endeavor to provide better care than you could at home
  • Pillar Two — Personal development: 
    • Cultural  competency
      1. Working with elusive and vulnerable populations
      2. Communicating effectively across cultural barriers
      3. Understanding pluralism in health care choices
      4. Crafting culturally acceptable health care plans
      5. Appreciating other cultural traditions
      6. Cultural comfort zones
    • Improve teamwork skills in challenging settings
      1. International multidisciplinary teamwork
      2. Language and cultural team dynamics
      3. Working and living together successfully
      4. Conflict resolution and emotional honesty
    • Push physical, mental, and emotional comfort zones
      1. Working in heat, humidity, rain, storm conditions
      2. Coping with poor outcomes
    • Gain confidence in your problem-solving and ability to overcome challenges
      • Time management skills
    • Reinforce desire to keep service a part of your life 
  • Pillar Three — Professional development:
    1. Improve classical clinical diagnostic skills
    2. Improve contextual relevance of treatment plans in challenging health landscapes
    3. International health advocacy and delivery 
    4. Supply chain competence
    5. Tropical diseases
    6. Non-communicable diseases
    7. Infectious Diseases
    8. Public health
    9. Supply chain management
    10. Pharmacy and equipment management
    11. Effective use of telemedicine 
    12. Case presentation skills
    13. Patient advocacy at at individual, regional, national level
  • Pillar Four — Mentoring: 
    • Mentor our volunteers (*see below)
    • Develop teaching skills (LMPs rotate the following):
      • One LMP to plan and conduct a clinical education session each week
      • One LMP to lead case rounds each week
  • Pillar Five — Research Project or Quality Improvement Project: 
    • By the end of the first 6 weeks:
      • Submit a proposal to the MD/ED/CEO for approval
        • Quality improvement project
          1. Program audit
          2. Protocol improvement
          3. Infrastructure development
          4. Program development 
        • Research project
          • Research proposal for publication/poster
            1. Active new research
            2. Existing data
          • Research must contain an interventional component
          •  LMP has lead authorship
      • Remaining time on-site divided by 4
        • Proposal/project progress check with MD
      • Submission of final paper or project summary


  • All medical student volunteers attending for three or more weeks will be required to undertake the Floating Doctors self-guided clinical elective (see Syllabus & Workbook for details).
  • Volunteers are paramount to the sustainability of our organization
    • Personal  and professional growth during their time with us is part of our mission to improve the quality and compassion of health care in their home countries
  • LMPs will be assigned mentees by the Medical Director.
    • Meet with mentees briefly on Sunday evening
      1. Introductions
      2. Answer questions
    • Midweek Check-in 
      1. Identify and address issues with workbook progress
    • Friday Check-in
      1. Identify and address issues with workbook progress
      2. Sign off on workbook
      3. Plan ahead for following week as needed


  • Fully registered doctor, NP, PA, or APN with a minimum of 2 years clinical experience
  • Prior experience working / volunteering in a developing country (not required but is preferred)
  • Evidence of the ability to lead a team and experience in teaching and managing personalities.
  • Availability for a minimum of 4 months.
  • Working knowledge of Spanish **May apply even if no Spanish ability; not an absolute barrier
  • Training or special interest in Tropical medicine an advantage

Lead Dental Provider

Position: Lead Dental Provider

Minimum Commitment: Four Months (six preferable)

We are looking for experienced and motivated people to coordinate and lead the dental staff and volunteers and to work with our Operations Managers to supervise program activities for Floating Doctors, Panama.


  • Attend all single-day and multi-day mobile clinics, and occasional dental-specific clinics
  • Responsibility for training and supervising the dental providers and students
  • Work with Pharmacy and Clinic Supply Manager to create a request list for dental gear
  • Work with Pharmacy and Clinic Supply Manager to ensure dental gear is complete and prepared for upcoming clinics.
  • Weekly, submit a report to the Medical Director summarizing totals of patients seen
  • Assist in developing a recruitment plan for dentists and dental students
  • Identifying areas for improvement and/or development and implementing appropriate policy/infrastructure changes with the approval of the President and Operations Director


  • Fully registered dentist with a minimum of 2 years experience
  • Prior experience working /volunteering in a developing country (not required but is preferred)
  • Evidence of the ability to lead a team and experience in teaching and managing personalities.
  • Availability for a minimum of 4 months.
  • Working knowledge of Spanish preferred

Volunteer Coordinator

Position: Volunteer Coordinator

Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

We are looking for adventurous, experienced, and motivated people to coordinate and lead medical volunteers, and to work with our operations managers to supervise volunteer activities for Floating Doctors Panama. The Volunteer Coordinator position is vital for the Floating Doctors in order to maintain volunteer accommodations and get volunteers to where they need to be.


  • Coordinate volunteer deployments, accommodations, arrivals, and departures
  • Maintain keys for Volunteer Headquarters, as well as Floating Doctors materials
  • Maintain consistent contact with US-based volunteer coordinators
  • Maintain volunteer headquarters budget and report to Director of Operations
  • Final contact for incoming volunteers regarding arrival questions and basic FAQ
  • Weekly volunteer headcount report to Floating Doctors leadership
  • Organize and lead weekly group orientation
  • Ensure all new volunteers have submitted all paperwork
  • Maintain contact with landlord and manager of lodging facility and promptly notify them of rooms or appliances in need of attention or repair
  • Maintain and delegate upkeep of volunteer rooms and communal space
  • Upkeep surveillance and report to Director of Operations any disruptive activity
  • Act as contact person for local personnel and Spanish schools interested in participation
  • Communicate closely with other leadership interns and staff and relay necessary information to volunteers


  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, Google Documents
  • Comfortable learning new software
  • Comfortable coordinating volunteers in multiple locations
  • Able to problem solve and feel comfortable working in a dynamic environment
  • Able to relay information to staff and volunteers in an efficient and timely manner
  • Able to effectively report and manager volunteer lodging expenses and communicate needs
  • Comfortable enforcing rules and code of conduct and initiating disciplinary procedure as necessary
  • Proficient in English; Spanish is desirable
  • Nonprofit management or hospitality experience desirable

Pharmacy and Clinical Supplies Manager

Position: Pharmacy and Clinical Supply Manager

Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

We are looking for adventurous, experienced, and motivated people to maintain the pharmacy and all of its supplies, including oversight the central pharmacy, the Asilo pharmacy, and remote outposts.


  • Maintaining order and inventory in pharmacy and supply room
  • Overseeing Floating Doctors’ central pharmacy and remote pharmacies, including the Asilo, remote outposts, and emergency bags.
  • Maintaining sponsorship relations with medication suppliers to stock pharmacy
  • Researching additional suppliers and conducting outreach to potential supply sources
  • Maintaining list of needed medications/supplies for incoming volunteers
  • Assisting with pharmacy orders


  • Demonstrated ability to work and handle multiple tasks simultaneously and negotiate and meet critical timelines.
  • Excellent planning, organizational, analytical and management skills, with strong attention to detail.
  • Proficient with personal computers and Microsoft Office products including, Word and Excel as well as Google Documents
  • Experience managing inventories and prioritizing supply needs
  • Comfortable learning new software
  • Personable
  • Experience with pharmaceuticals suggested, but not required
  • Excellent oral and written communication is required to communicate with the Floating Doctors Crew, volunteers, management and external contacts, including maintaining sponsorship relations.
  • Proficient in English; Spanish desirable

Clinic Manager

Position: Clinic Manager

Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

We are looking for adventurous, experienced, and motivated people to run mobile and multiday clinics for Floating Doctors Panama. The Clinic Manager is responsible for all logistics and operations before, during and after clinic. Must be able to work well with physicians, volunteers, students, patients, and community members. This position is based in Bocas del Toro, Panama.


  • Work closely with the Operations Director, Lead Physicians, and other leadership interns in planning and overseeing mobile clinics and other projects in Panama
  • Plan, coordinate, and supervise all aspects of day clinics and multi-day deployments
  • Supervise, delegate, and mentor operational leadership volunteers
  • Ensure that all clinic staff and volunteers understand their roles and responsibilities during clinic
  • Supervise, reconcile, and report weekly logistics expenditures for deployments.
  • Maintain budget within operational guidelines
  • Collect content during clinic for various social media platforms
  • Responsible for clinic forms and community profiles.
  • Coordinate with physicians and pharmacists to ensure that clinics are fully stocked at all times.
  • Responsible for supervision of health education and training initiatives
  • Other duties as required.


  • Experience in management desirable
  • Medical setting experience preferred
  • Proficient with computers and social media platforms
  • Excellent organizational, communication, and collaboration skills
  • Able to work with people of diverse backgrounds
  • Must be able to act calmly and effectively in a busy or stressful situation.
  • Previous international volunteer experience desirable.
  • Spanish and English proficiency
  • Physically able to lift at least 15 lbs, and carry it 100 yards, and get into and out of small boats unassisted.
  • Willingness to undertake prolonged small boat journeys in inclement weather, and sleep multiple nights in remote wilderness settings.

Financial Controller

Position: Financial Controller

Minimum Commitment: 6 Months


  • Obtain cash needed for operations in Panama weekly
  • Administer cash for clinics, patient transport, and other operating expenses
  • Ensure staff are completing itemized expense reports and reimbursement forms with receipts and issue reimbursements with Director of Operations approval
  • Receive cash donations in Panama via volunteers and donation sites
  • Maintain records of cash donations and submit them for online records
  • Responsible for issuing stipends and paying monthly bills
  • Reconcile cash box weekly with supporting documents
  • Assist Director of Operations and Accountant in maintaining budget and cash totals


  • Excellent planning, organizational, analytical, and management skills, with strong attention to detail
  • Proficient with personal computers and Microsoft Office products, including Word and Excel
  • Proficient in Google Documents
  • Experience managing finances and budgeting
  • Excellent oral and written communication required
  • Comfortable learning new software
  • Demonstrated ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and meet critical timelines
  • Ability to think systematically

Health Education Coordinator

Position: Health Education Coordinator

Minimum Commitment: 6 Months

We are looking for adventurous, experienced, and motivated people to coordinate and Health Education activities for Floating Doctors Panama. This position is critical to building capacity in the region.


  • Development of health education curriculum
  • Planning additional Health Education community visits
  • Maintain the “Community profiles — Health education edition” documents
  • Lesson planning and preparation with volunteers
  • Organizing logistics for lessons in community
  • Supporting volunteers during lessonSingle and Multi-day clinic
  • Oversight of Health Education station
  • Spontaneous educational talks
  • Coordination with community contacts for future lesson planning
  • Packing health education material
  • Communicate closely with other leadership interns and staff and relay necessary information to volunteers


  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, Google Documents
  • Comfortable creating enduring take-home or presentation material
  • Comfortable coordinating volunteers in multiple locations
  • Able to problem solve and feel comfortable working in a dynamic environment
  • Able to relay information to staff and volunteers in an efficient and timely manner
  • Able to effectively report and manager volunteer lodging expenses and communicate needs
  • Creative in developing and implementing new opportunities for health education
  • Proficient Spanish

Common Questions:

How long is a staff commitment?

We accept staff for varying lengths of time, from as short as three months to over a year.  Normally, we require a minimum committment of 6 months for one of our leadership roles, although for medical leadership we are often willing to accept clinicians to act as Lead Medical Providers on our team for less than 6 months.

All positions, whether they have a 6-month minimum or not, are supported by one or more ‘Relief’ positions. ‘Relief’ positions generally carry no stipend but meals and accommodation are provided, and can range from 1-6 months. ‘Reliefs’ act in a supporting capacity to the role they relieve, helping shoulder some of the day-to-day leadership responsibilities.

Do I have to be able to speak Spanish?

No. Some roles do require competent Spanish skills, but not all our positions require Spanish.

In general, these roles REQUIRE competent Spanish skills:

  • Operations Manager
  • Clinic Managers
  • Facilities Manager
  • Education Coordinator

And these roles do not REQUIRE Spanish, but for which a Spanish-speaking applicant is given much higher consideration:

  • Lead Medical Provider
  • Dental Lead
  • Pharmacy & Supply Manager
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Financial Controller

It is highly desirable to speak Spanish, not only to function more effectively in our clinic but also to deepen your experience interacting with our target population. We try to maintain at least 50% ratio of Spanish-speakers on our team of volunteers and leaders, and we may occasionally cap our volunteer numbers if there are not enough bilingual volunteers. We usually pair a non-Spanish-speaking volunteer with a translator or bilingual volunteer, or assign them to clinic roles that do not require Spanish.

Do I have to be a doctor to take Leadership Role?

No. We accept leadership volunteers of almost all ages and backgrounds besides medical workers, because we believe that there is no talent or skill that cannot be expressed in a way that is of service to others and because attention to detail, logistic skill and creativity, and a great attitude are what makes our team effective and allows our doctors to provide good care.

Is there any compensation for Leadership roles?

Yes.  Lead positions are compensated in varying amounts based on length of service, the position itself, language ability, and sometimes other factors.  IN GENERAL, the compensation package for most leadership roles as of January 2018 includes:

  • All meals from Sunday night until Friday night (and refrigeration/cooking facilities available for you to prepare your own Saturday/Sunday meals)
  • Accommodation at our base
  • Weekly stipend of $125 to start
  • $300 additional travel support for each 5.5 month commitment served
  • Free registration for credit in our accredited Continuing Medical Education Course for staff working at that time
  • Transportation between our base and Bocas Town at the weekend
  • 1 week of stipended holiday leave for each half-year; additional unstipended time off allowed by prior arrangement

Will I actually spend most of my time doing work, or will I see one patient and spend the rest of my time lounging around?

You will work very hard…our leadership positions routinely move mountains and achieve the impossible on behalf of our patients, with lots of clinical exposure and many, many opportunities to be of service. There will be ample time off at the weekends for leisure and exploring all the fun things the region has to offer, but if you are looking for somewhere you can work for one day a week and spend the rest of your time lying on the beach with a piña colada, and then home bragging about your medical mission trip, you are on the wrong organization’s website. If you are looking to work hard and make a real difference, you have come to the right place!

How do I apply?



We have an online application (link below) where you can fill out your information, desired dates, emergency contact info, etc. To submit the online application, you will also need to have several documents ready: AND THEY MUST BE NAMED AND FORMATTED CORRECTLY:

Naming format for uploaded documents is: Lastname_Firstname_Document
Example: A Resume for John Smith should be named “Smith_John_Resume


Because our goal is not only providing health services locally, but also to affect health systems in the home countries of our volunteers through tropical and clinical exposure and mentoring, our volunteer selection process is very open compared to most volunteer organizations. We accept volunteers at many skill levels from bilingual veteran mission doctors to non-Spanish speaking students interested in an immersion experience. We normally have capacity throughout the year to accept people when they would like to come, although we strongly urge you to submit your application several months in advance, especially during our high season (May-July).


  • One COLOR copy of your passport photo page
  • One copy of your resume
  • One letter of intent outlining what you feel you would give to a program such as ours as well as what you hope to take away from the experience
  • One letter of recommendation

Click here to apply.

General Description of Our Program:

From mid January till mid December, we typically run two weekly clinical schedules—there are weeks where on Monday we do new volunteer training and work in the government nursing home we support (called an ‘Asilo’) we support, and deploy for single-day clinics to two different remote communities on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We re-visit the nursing home, handle our clinical data and re-pack our mobile pharmacy on Thursdays, and on Friday a small team revisits both communities to do follow up while the rest of the team works on other projects. Depending on the community size, typical patient loads per clinic day run from about 40 to 130 patients.

During our second type of weekly schedule, we do new volunteer training and nursing home work on Monday, and deploy on ‘multiday’ clinics Tuesday-Friday to particularly remote villages, bringing hammocks and mosquito nets to live in the target community during the multiday. These clinics offer the unique opportunity to be a welcome guest in a Ngabe village and get to know your patients outside of clinic.

During clinical days, Public Health volunteers may engage in research or may scribe for providers or translate in clinic, assist providers in consults, ultrasounds, house calls or procedures, or may staff the pharmacy station, administration station, or clinic intake stations to check vitals (which we will teach you), take basic histories and conduct health screening for anemia, diabetes or other conditions. Floating Doctors staff will offer explanations and context for everything we encounter. Our staff and volunteers often come from as many as five or more nationalities, and are enthusiastic teachers and mentors.

Years of working closely with the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé communities in our network has forged a relationship of trust and cooperation giving our volunteers a unique access to a very different culture.  Our goal for our volunteers is that their experience will be transformative, not only encouraging global thinking and a deeper understanding and appreciation of other cultures and environments, but also reinforcing the value of service not only for others but for ourselves. It is never long until the cultural differences become lost in all the ways it is clear we are the same. This is an opportunity to reach out across vast gulfs of experience, culture, geography, socioeconomic status, education, and other factors and make real connections based on our shared humanity that transcend all of those differences.

When we travel and experience new things, it changes us—but when we combine real service to others with our travel, it adds a new dimension to our trip. We find that we do not take a journey; the journey takes us instead. These are trips that are not just fun, or entertaining, or a great learning experience—these are the experiences that stay with us forever, that help us define who we are, and that no one can ever take away from us.

Where You Will Be Staying:

Our teams deploy each week from our base on Isla San Cristobal to provide medical services over 10,000 square miles

Volunteers and staff stay at the Floating Doctors base on Isla San Cristobal, a 10-minute boat ride from the town of Bocas del Toro on Isla Colon. Our headquarters is an off-the-grid remote facility located on a mangrove island, relying on solar power, rain catchment and filtration, and biotreatment of waste. Participants sleep in our 9-room bunkhouse dormitory or in small casitas, and deploy from our base to our target communities. Our leadership and facilities staff work very hard to keep our everyone comfortable and well-fed, but please remember that these are accommodations built and maintained with much struggle against an unforgiving environment—far more comfortable than camping, but not the Ritz! Our headquarters is a working medical support base built for the purpose of delivering health care to remote jungle communities. There is not air conditioning, but electric fans and mosquito nets are provided for every bed. Our kitchen is run by a team of women and men from the neighboring village of Valle Escondido and they are justifiably proud of the meals they prepare for us.

Staff will almost always have their own small private room, though occasional sharing may occur during a particularly packed week, and typically incoming staff share with their outgoing counterpart  in the last couple of weeks of their service time with us (and while they help train in their replacement).

We ask that participants be adaptable and enjoy the adventure of living off the grid, and the sight of glowing bioluminescence at night, the occasional visiting sloth, or flocks of parrots returning home overhead at the end of the day. The mangroves and the jungle are beautiful, especially at night, and swimming or snorkeling off the dock in the warm clear tropical water is a great way to cool off at the end of a day out in the field.

Accommodations every night, and all meals from Sunday night to Friday night will be provided.  Cooking facilities are available for volunteers and staff staying on base for a quiet weekend to prepare their own food; often volunteers and staff stay at hostels in Bocas town Friday and/or Saturday night to enjoy Bocas’ night life).  There is access to Wi-Fi, showers and other basic amenities.  All program-related transportation is provided, as well as regularly scheduled water shuttle service between Bocas town on Isla Colon and the Floating Doctors headquarters.