Female Intern is seen gaining valuable work experience whilst playing with a local child whilst taking part in her occupational therapy internship in Vietnam.

Occupational Therapy Internship in Vietnam

Gain practical experience by working alongside staff to treat patients with physical and mental disabilities

At a glance

  • Work with disabled patients at a rehabilitation centre where there is a significant demand for occupational therapists.
  • Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War, continues to damage the DNA of children born decades later, which leads to disabilities.
  • We need your help to improve the level of care given to patients, and to support their education.

Start Dates: 

Completely flexible dates

See Dates

Minimum Duration: 

Two Weeks


16 or over
You should have completed at least two years of occupational therapy related studies or training.

Is the Occupational Therapy internship in Vietnam right for me?

Are you interested in getting occupational therapy work experience at a rehabilitation centre? Do you want to help those who need support most? If you answered yes to these questions, our Occupational Therapy internship in Vietnam would be a good fit for you.


This project is perfect for any student looking to put occupational therapy into practice. To join, you should have completed at least two years of occupational therapy related studies or training. Please be aware that the work you do will depend on your level of experience and training.


This is a unique way to add work experience to your CV, and it will give you interesting points to talk about in applications and interviews.


You can join at any time of the year, and have to commit to a minimum of two weeks. We encourage you stay longer, to ensure you have a bigger impact on the people you work with. It’s also a great opportunity to gain even more occupational therapy work experience while in Vietnam.

Pictured here is a Projects Abroad intern helping a young boy learn how to eat with limited arm movement whilst she undertakes her occupational therapy internship in Vietnam.

What will I do at my Occupational Therapy placement in Vietnam?

During your internship, you’ll gain experience by taking part in various activities relating to occupational therapy. These can include:

  • Assist staff at a rehabilitation centre by treating patients with physical and mental disabilities
  • Promote educational development through fun activities like arts and crafts, dance, and maths games
  • Facilitate vocational lessons for patients to learn skills like embroidery, paper flower making, and cooking

At your Occupational Therapy placement in Vietnam, your work will focus on these main areas:

Assist staff at a rehabilitation centre by treating patients with physical and mental disabilities

The centres we work with have patients with various disabilities. These include autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, this is a legacy of the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The symptoms of some of the disabilities you help treat will vary. They could include:

  • Decreased or lack of fine motor precision and integration
  • Decreased balance and coordination
  • Poor prehension

Your presence at your placement will be extremely beneficial to the patients and staff you work with. Some placements provide equipment like mattresses, balls, and a parallel bar. You can use these during your treatment sessions.  

Promote educational development through fun activities

Many of the patients we work with are children who need educational support. You can help run lessons using fun activities like:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Dance
  • Games
  • Singing

If you have the relevant experience, you may be able to work independently with groups or individual patients.

We encourage interns with training to use their skills to train local staff. You can also bring any resources you might have, like puzzles, LEGO, games, and other useful tools you’ve acquired during your training.

Facilitate vocational lessons to improve patients’ skills

You can work in vocational training to help teenagers and adults learn skills that would benefit their future careers. You can teach skills such as:

  • Embroidery
  • Paper flower making
  • Cooking
  • Weaving
  • Making incense and bags, and other crafts

By learning new skills, those with disabilities will develop a way to earn an income in the future.

Where in Vietnam will I work?


You can work at a care centre or hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, or you can work at a rehabilitation centre in a more rural setting outside of Hanoi. The centres we work with are either understaffed, or the staff are undertrained. In most cases, it is a combination of the two.  

Hanoi is the capital and second largest city of Vietnam. Each day, you’ll navigate your way through thousands of motorcycles, Vietnam’s primary mode of transport for most people. You can follow the delicious smells coming from street food vendors at nearly every corner. You can choose to enjoy lunches like Vietnam’s famous pho, a noodle dish with rice, broth, herbs, and chicken or beef.

If you’re placed in a rural setting, you’ll witness a more traditional way of life. You’ll be surrounded by rice paddies where farmers and water buffalo are hard at work.

Airport pickup, flights and visas

When you arrive at your respective airport, a member of Projects Abroad staff will be there to meet you. You can find more detailed information on arrival airports, orientation, and visas on our Vietnam Arrival Procedures page.

What will my typical day be like?

You’ll begin each day bright and early, leaving your accommodation at around 7am. You’ll travel by taxi or bus, or walk if it’s close enough to you. On your first day, our staff will accompany you to show you the way.

Your exact daily schedule will depend on where you are placed, as each facility runs according to its own schedule. Work at your placement will generally start at 8am, and your day will end at 4pm.

Your mornings and afternoons will be comprised of you treating patients. You could work in a therapy room helping patients who have decreased fine motor precision and coordination, using games and activities. You could make use of equipment like:

  • Exercise mattresses
  • Gym balls
  • Toys
  • Trampolines

In Vietnam, lunch breaks are long and run from about 11am to 1pm. During your lunch breaks, you can do things like play badminton with the children, or teach basic English. After returning to work in the afternoon, you’ll continue working with patients until 4pm.

During your free time, you can explore the city of Hanoi or surrounding rural areas. You can get a taste of Vietnam by trying street foods like spring rolls, sip on cups of sweet Vietnamese coffee, or learn about Vietnam’s history at museums. Over a weekend, you could visit the world-famous Ha Long Bay.

Intern from Projects Abroad is seen performing exercises with a child as part of her occupational therapy internship in Vietnam.

Aims and impact of the Occupational Therapy internship in Vietnam

The aim of this project is to give you the opportunity to learn and develop your skills in occupational therapy.

During the Vietnam War, chemical warfare was used to devastating effect. Agent Orange continues to affect children born decades after the war, because the chemical damaged DNA. This has led to children being born with mental and physical disabilities. There aren’t many qualified occupational therapists working in Vietnam, and there is a significant need at the rehabilitation centres we work with.

Your main focus will be on helping disabled people improve their skills and quality of life through focused therapy. Your efforts will be part of our ongoing work to improve healthcare in Vietnam.

We are working toward five long-term goals through Medicine and Healthcare Management Plan for Vietnam:

  • Encourage an understanding of medical practices and promote an exchange of medical knowledge
  • Improve the quality of healthcare provided to patients
  • Improve the quality of specialised or alternative healthcare provided
  • Improve hygiene standards
  • Improve access to basic healthcare for disadvantaged groups

Join us as we strive to reach these goals to help people in need, and advance your career in occupational therapy.

A female intern is pictured helping a local doctor encourage movement in a baby during her occupational therapy internship in Vietnam.

Volunteering for professionals

This project is also perfect for qualified professionals. With your skills backing up our ongoing efforts, we can make an even bigger difference together. We'll match you to the placement where your skills are needed most.

This means you can share your training and and knowledge with others. You can work hand-in-hand with our partner organisations and local communities to support sustainable development.

If you have relevant skills or qualifications, read more about how you can make use of them with Projects Abroad.

Management plans

We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.

Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.

Measuring our impact

Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.

Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.

Food and accommodation

You'll stay in shared accommodation with other Projects Abroad volunteers and interns while in Vietnam. This is a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and interns, share experiences, and explore your surroundings in your free time together.

The accommodation is safe, clean, and comfortable. Your programme fees include three meals a day. 

Find out more about our accommodation.

Leisure activities and free time

Vietnam offers a mix of bustling cities and picturesque countrysides. With so many different activities and tourist sites, you’re bound to find plenty of ways to spend your free time.

For a glimpse into the country’s history, you can spend an afternoon exploring the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology or the National Museum of Vietnamese History. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is also a major historic site, located in Hanoi.

If you’re looking to buy some souvenirs, there are many markets with locally made products on sale. Evenings in Hanoi are filled with excitement and bright, colourful lights. You can watch street performers and then head to a nearby restaurant for a taste of local cuisine.

The countryside, with its emerald rice paddies stretching to the horizon, provides the perfect escape from the busy capital.

We run many different projects in Vietnam, so there will likely be other volunteers in-country with you. This makes travelling as a group easy to arrange. However, you’re welcome to explore independently if you prefer. 

Safety and staff support

Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.

Find out more about safety and backup.

When you apply you only pay €295, which comes off the total price. Flexible payment options and fundraising advice available.

Looking to do more than one project? Get discounted prices when you combine projects or destinations!

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