It is illegal to practice medicine in Nepal as a volunteer. Our scheme is designed to strengthen primary healthcare provision in our project areas through mentoring in basic primary healthcare skills. You will not be practising medicine whilst in Nepal. As one of our GP Mentors, you will be considered a representative of PHASE Worldwide visiting Nepal to provide vital skills training and build capacity.
When do you send mentors out?
We try to avoid the wet season (June to Sept) as rain can often disrupt transportation links. GP Volunteers generally complete their placements between November and March, sometimes also in September or May. In October and April, our health workers are usually in Kathmandu for training. Some volunteers get involved in this, too.
Do I need a Visa?
You will need a Visa. Visas are available to buy on arrival. The process is straightforward, but it helps to pre-fill the application form online https://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/ – the kiosks in the arrivals hall also work OK.
It may be a good idea to bring with you a passport photo, however generally the visa kiosks in the arrivals halls take the picture for you.
You should pay in dollars (but they accept £) and ideally with the exact amount as change will not always be available.
Bought at the airport, a 15-day visa costs $25 (£19) and a 30-day visa costs $40 (£31).
You can avoid all of this trouble by purchasing a visa from the Nepali Embassy in your home country. A 15-day Visa costs £20 whilst a 30-day visa costs £35.
What happens when I arrive?
Once you have bought your visa and gone through Customs, you will be able to leave the airport. Depending on what arrangement has been confirmed before your trip, you can get a pre-paid taxi to your hotel (they accept USD, but you can also charge a small amount of cash at the airport), or the hotel may arrange to pick up, or sometimes PHASE will do so. If a hotel or PHASE pick up has been arranged, just outside the main exit, there will be someone holding a card with either the name of the hotel, your name or “PHASE” written on it. They will take you to where you need to go.
Where do I stay for the first few nights?
You will usually stay in Kathmandu for the first two nights before starting the journey to your placement. Generally, you will visit the PHASE office on the day after your arrival.
Your accommodation in Kathmandu will be decided beforehand. You will have a choice to stay in any of the following locations:
Thamel: contains many hostels and hotels (around an hour away from the PHASE office and half an hour from the airport by car), most of which can be booked online.
Bhaktapur: A historic city located close to the PHASE Nepal offices. There are a number of reasonable choices for hotels here. The Bhaktapur Guest House offers discounted rates to mentors (around half an hour away from the airport by car and 10-15 minutes from the PHASE office)
Homestay: PHASE can arrange for you to stay with the family of a staff member close by the office in Thimi (around 20 minutes away from the airport by car)
Some volunteers, often those who have mentored with us before, chose to book their own hotel in Kathmandu before finding their own way to the PHASE Nepal offices.
Where will I be mentoring?
In general, this is decided around 4 weeks before your placement. We try to send our GPs to where they are needed most, but other considerations also factor into the decision making, such as logistics and the mentors’ prior experience. Occasionally, we have to re-arrange at short notice, but we will always keep you informed of this.
We will often send new volunteers to our least remote health posts. Experienced volunteers will have the option to venture out to the far-west of Nepal and work in some of the most remote communities in the world.
Your placement location is also determined by your physical fitness, as it is sometimes required that you hike for several days in order to reach certain health posts.
How much will I have to pay?
There is no placement fee. You do not need to pay us to volunteer in Nepal.
You need to pay for your flights to and from Nepal. The price of these varies depending on the time of year you are travelling, where you are travelling from and how early you buy your tickets.
You need to pay for accommodation in Kathmandu, generally 2 nights before and 2-3 nights after your placements. Hotel prices range from £ 15 to £ 150, depending on the hotel. The homestay costs around £ 10-15 per night.
For those placements in more remote areas, you may also need to pay for domestic flights. – These can be quite expensive, adding up to £ 500 to the cost of your visit.
In addition, for more remote areas you may need a porter / local guide to walk with you to the health post and back, which costs around £ 10 – 15 per day and can be up to 6-7 days in some areas. In some places, you may be able to hire a jeep to take you nearer to the location, which may cost an additional £ 30 – 60.
You will need to pay for food and accommodation whilst on placement, but these are minimal (around £ 2-3 per night).
Do I need travel insurance?
You are covered by the PHASE insurance for the time you spend volunteering with us but if you plan to holiday before/after you will not be covered for that.
Do I need to be registered on the Performers’ List?
In general, we are looking for experienced GPs, ideally with GP training experience. We make the assumption that GMC registration and an annual appraisal are a reasonable guarantee that you are professionally sound.
If you have given up your license to practice and/or are no longer registered with the GMC, this will not stop you from mentoring with PHASE in Nepal (you will not be providing clinical care), but we will then contact your professional references.
Who decides when I fly out?
We like GP Mentors to arrive on the same day, it saves ‘pick up’ costs and it helps people to feel more comfortable. It also means that we can do your orientation at the same time.
Once you have completed all application stages, we will ask you to decide upon dates and arrange your own flights. If we have GPs heading out around the same time as you, we will strongly advise that you coordinate your arrival with them.