Global Health Internship Program

This program is designed for aspiring healthcare professionals to who are committed to global health, and who wish to develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges facing patients in rural Kenya through first-hand experience and service learning.

We have two internship streams: Primary Care (nursing and medicine), and Optometry.

Global health internships

Cataract surgery at Sabatia Eye Hospital, Kenya, assisted by intern Jothi Shanmugam, 2009.

Optometry Internships

Lab technician Milly tests new microscope at the Inyali Dispensary medical lab built by SID.

Health outreach programs

Banana trees planted by SID interns reach maturity at Munoywa Dispensary, providing extra income for the clinic.

Program Goals

SID’s Global Health Internship Program aims to provide an intensive experiential learning opportunity to students pursuing advanced professional degrees in healthcare. The program exposes interns to multiple dimensions of global health: primary care delivery, public health promotion, facility administration, medical anthropology, and understanding social determinants of health. Interns are placed in a clinical capacity at health facilities that SID has built, or partnered with, to deliver health services to low-income communities in Western Kenya. Upon program completion, interns will have obtained a deeper understanding of the health challenges facing patients, clinicians, and healthcare administrators in developing countries, while also improving their clinical skills through daily work with patients.

Internship Structure

All internships involve working under the supervision of qualified and licensed Kenyan health professionals. Specific descriptions of each internship type’s roles are work sites are presented separately. Work hours are Monday to Friday 9:30AM-4:30PM. SID undertakes a number of projects each year to improve our partner facilities’ service delivery and infrastructure. Interns are welcome to participate in such projects during weekends. All partner facilities are located in Western Kenya, one of the most densely populated, safest, and beautiful parts of East Africa. All sites are within an hour of either Kisumu or Kakamega, two mid-sized cities. In addition to work-related mentorship, interns receive field-support from SID’s field team, which organizes housing, personal support, health and wellness, and ensuring the quality of the training and orientation experience.



3+ years of post-secondary education, with coursework or past experience relating to global health and/or health services.


Preferred qualifications

one or more years of training at a medical, dental/dental hygienist, nursing, or optometry program at an accredited university.



Anytime from May – September. Pre-departure training involves up to 20 hours of readings and assignments. Minimum four weeks.



$1,500 CAD (or equivalent USD) covers room, board, orientation activities and field support by local staff for four to ten weeks (weeks 5 to 10 are no additional cost).



All applicants must commit to raising $1,000 CAD (or equivalent) for the health projects we undertake with our partner facilities. These contributions are key to maintaining the goodwill and enthusiasm of the local health professionals who volunteer their time to train global health interns. These funds are used for capital improvements, equipment upgrades, and to cope with pharmacy stockouts.

Primary Care Internships

During the course of your placement, you will observe and support primary care delivered at rural health centers (dispensaries) run by government nurses and clinical officers. Daily activities may include determining BMI, taking blood pressure, filing medical records, compiling public health data, supporting public health promotion and patient education. You may also be asked to assist in managerial capacities, such as helping a dispensary prepare a funding proposal to submit to the government. All activities involving direct interaction with patients will take place under supervision.

Placement Location

SID’s partner dispensaries are located in a lush, mountainous, tea-growing region of Western Kenya. Interns will live in Vihiga County’s capital, Mbale (appears on Google Maps as “Maragoli”), a mid-sized town located halfway between the provincial capitals of Kakamega and Kisumu. Mbale is a medium-sized town with a vibrant outdoor market, a bakery, a variety of cyber cafes, restaurants (local food only), an inter-city coach bus service, government offices, pharmacies, and many general stores. Only an hour away, Kisumu has many amenities one might expect in a mid-sized city, including private hospitals, modern shopping complexes, and more specialized businesses (e.g., smart phone retailers, computer repair technicians, restaurants serving international food).

SID’s four partner dispensaries are located between 3-10km from Mbale in adjacent rural villages, which can be accessed by foot, bicycle, or motorbike taxi. Transportation allowances are built into the internship program cost. The Inyali and Munoywa Dispensaries are located closest to Mbale, and were actually opened with significant assistance from SID in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The two other sites – Nadanya and Likindu Dispensaries – are located a bit further from Mbale and serve slightly higher-need populations. SID has collaborated with these dispensaries since 2011.


At the intern’s election, internships may be extended to include additional rotations or a mini-project that benefits one of the health facilities. Mini-projects will consist of assisting one of the partner facilities in a specific area of need based on one of the proposals the facility has submitted to SID. Examples of possible projects may include an examination of the need for specific types of drugs/medicines, equipment and supplies, repair and maintenance needs for the facilities not covered by government sponsored funds, or developing public health outreach workshops to provide clinical services and/or health promotion education to villages that are far from the dispensary.

Optometry Internships

Placement Location

Up to two optometry students will be placed at the Sabatia Eye Hospital in Sabatia District, Western Province. The Sabatia Eye Hospital is one of East Africa’s leading providers of comprehensive, high-quality eye care services. As part of your placement with SID and the Sabatia Eye Hospital, you will familiarize yourself with conditions and diseases impacting the eye health of local communities in and around the vicinity of the hospital, and participate in and support the hospital’s free eye health camps in a logistical capacity. You may observe medical proceedings outside office hours on a case-by-case basis and will have the opportunity to observe ophthalmological operations as authorized by the hospital.

During your placement, you will be housed at the Friends Church Sabatia Eye Hospital. The guesthouse has fully equipped apartments and rooms connected to the electricity grid and all essential amenities. The building and facility are in excellent condition.

Scope of Placement

You may as part of your placement:

  • Observe medical procedures performed at the hospital
  • Assisting with procedures under direct supervision, including but not limited to: auto-refracting, taking visual acuity, and administering retinoscopy
  • Assist in dispensing reading glasses, taking visual acuity, taking intraocular pressure and dilating pupils, help organize the logistics of the public eye health outreach camps

We are passionate about the impact we have on the lives of the some of the world’s poorest people. By joining our team, you are choosing to be part of a community whose focus is on impact, continuous improvement, evidence-based decision-making. Self-discovery, cultural exchange, and opportunities for independent travel can and will happen, but that is tangential. Our business is changing lives.