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A key part of Global Partners' mission is "to inspire volunteerism throughout Gundersen Health System and local communities." More than 500 volunteers from Gundersen Health System and our local communities have participated in Global Partners trips since 2009!

Volunteers are a critical component of our ultimate goal of creating community-to-community partnerships that empower global communities to improve their health and quality of life. Volunteers pay for their own expenses and use vacation time when they travel to Pine Ridge, Nicaragua or Ethiopia.

Global Partners provides opportunities for more than just medical and nursing staff. Non-healthcare staff are needed to support the medical teams, public health initiatives, educational and community development activities. The program also relies on volunteers to plan trips, work with local partners to obtain supplies for the global partners, write grant applications, help at fundraising events and more.

Our volunteers who travel to our partner sites will return home with knowledge shared by the people of Pine Ridge, Ethiopia and Nicaragua, which can help us improve the way we take care of our own community. They'll return with the knowledge that we, as individuals, have the capacity to do outstanding things outside of our normal day-to-day activities. And, they'll return knowing that they're building the foundation on which this program will continue to grow and leave a lasting impact on the lives of the people we serve.

I'm interested in volunteering... what should I do next?

If you are new to Global Partners and would like to be considered for a future volunteer team, your first step is to complete the Volunteer Form to let us know of your interest.

If you have previously volunteered through Global Partners, or have already completed the Volunteer Form, simply email to express interest in joining a future trip.

Participation by non-Gundersen employees is contingent upon completion of a background check through Gundersen Volunteer Services. Please note that due to the community-based nature of this program, preference is given to local volunteers. Some trips may be closed altogether to volunteers from outside the region. Please contact the Global Partners office with any questions regarding this.


Global Partners Grants facilitate Gundersen Health System employee participation in Global Partners trips to Nicaragua, South Dakota or Ethiopia. Grants for volunteers will be awarded in exchange for completing a service plan to promote global health awareness and/or the Global Partners program. The goal is to provide financial assistance to employees who would like to volunteer but for whom the cost of the trip is a barrier.
Gundersen employees may apply for funds up to $500 (maximum $250 for South Dakota trips). Any request exceeding $500 would only be granted under special consideration. NOTE: Due to limited funds available, the full amount requested may not be granted. Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to provide grants to non-employees.

Use of Grant: The Global Partners Grant is intended to be used to help defray overall costs to the volunteer. Upon completion of the volunteer trip, the recipient is to provide verification of how the scholarship funds were used (including receipts) to the Global Partners Grants Review Committee.

Service Plan Options: Grant recipients are to complete one option as part of their service plan upon return from their volunteer experience. The service plan is intended to promote global health awareness as well as awareness about the Global Partners program in our local region. Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing a presentation for your department or local organization (church, Rotary, your child's school, etc.) about opportunities within Global Partners, as well as your personal experience
  • Volunteering to help with a future Global Partners event (i.e. fundraiser, donation drive, info booth at a fair, etc.) or help sort/organize donated supplies (medical, school, clothing, etc.)
  • Writing up your experiences or being interviewed for a Bridges article or a Global Partners video
  • Providing office assistance to team leader for the next trip to that site or helping with orientation for next team

Selection and Awarding of Grants: Submission of an application does not guarantee funding. The Global Partners Grants Review Committee will select recipients based upon existing funds available, individual financial need and alignment of the proposal with the Global Partners program mission.

Application Deadlines: Applications are reviewed four (4) times each year, and must be submitted at least two (2) months prior to the trip date. For Global Partners international trips, it is highly recommended that applications be submitted at least four (4) months prior to departure. Deadlines for Global Partners Grant applications are Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1 and Nov. 1 each year.

Grant Application

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be a Gundersen employee?

No, anyone is welcome to volunteer through the Global Partners program! Participation is not limited to Gundersen employees. We often have family members of employees and other community members on trips who work specifically in non-clinical roles. Healthcare professionals from other healthcare institutions are also welcome to participate in the program. Anyone interested in volunteering, whether or not a GHS employee, should indicate their interest by completing a Volunteer Form.

Do I need to be a nurse or a provider?

Not necessarily! The roles needed for each team will vary based on the purpose of the trip. Some trips have a surgical or medical focus, so those teams will be comprised mostly of volunteers with clinical backgrounds. However, many medical trips also need non-clinical volunteers to assist in the clinic (to help register patients, sort supplies, etc). As our partnerships have continued to expand, there are now also trips being planned with a public health, educational, or other community development focus. If you would like to volunteer in a non-medical role, please review the volunteer opportunities for non-clinical individuals for each site, and then complete the Volunteer Form to let us know of your specific interest!

Does Gundersen pay for my time or expenses to participate?

No, Gundersen does NOT pay for the volunteer's time or expenses. Gundersen employees may choose to take PTO or unpaid time off – you need to make arrangements with your manager. Gundersen associate and medical staff may also use CME time (but not CME money) to participate in a Global Partners trip.

NOTE: It is very important that you acquire the time off prior to committing to go on a trip. The team depends on each person for a successful trip, and it can be very difficult to find replacement volunteers for last-minute cancellations.

Is there any financial assistance available?

Volunteers are encouraged to seek support from their family and friends or engage in other personal fundraising in order to raise funds. Also, a Global Partners Grants fund will be available to Gundersen employees only through the Gundersen Medical Foundation. Gundersen employees with financial need can apply to this fund for small grants (typically up to $500) to be used towards a Global Partners trip. However, if awarded a Global Partners Grant, the volunteer is still responsible for paying the remaining expenses related to a trip, which may be $1000 or more depending on the destination.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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