Join a group of students and gain hands on dental experience on our elective in northern India. You’ll work with a professional dentist in his clinic and have the opportunity to work on dental camps.

Duration: 2 weeks
Dates: 5-18th July 2020. Other dates available with start dates on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month
Arrival day: Sunday
Return day: Saturday
Eligibility: Interns should be studying dentistry (or already qualified)
Age: 18+


  • Boosting your dental CV by getting hands on experience on a dental camp in India
  • Working alongside our co-ordinator – a qualified dentist himself
  • Spending time with other dental interns on the project and during free time
  • Living in northern India and enjoying views of the Himalayas
  • Relaxing with weekly yoga sessions and enjoying delicious Indian cuisine

Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India


If you are currently studying dentistry and looking to gain experience on an elective overseas, this project could be just what you are looking for. Our programme in India is designed for students and those already qualified, who are looking to use their skills in another country and learn about the differences in healthcare.

First and second year dental students can expect to assist with basic tasks and shadow the qualified staff. Third, fourth and final year students can expect hands-on tasks such as extractions, fillings and scalings – all dependent on your skill level.

As well as experiencing life in a dental clinic, our groups of dental interns will also work at a rural dental camp, which is set up in a village or school to provide dental checks and treatments to people in the community free of charge.

Week 1 - Itinerary

Sunday: Get picked up in Dharamshala and transferred to the volunteer house in Palampur.

Monday: Orientation, visit Palampur town and get to know the area.

Tuesday-Friday: Rotate around a variety of dental clinics (both private and government run). You’ll be observing the work of the local dentists, interacting with them and noting the differences between Indian dental practice and what you are used to in your home country.

Saturday-Sunday: Free weekend to explore the area. Perhaps take a trip to Mcleod Ganj – the Indian home of the Dalai Lama.

Week 2 - Itinerary

Monday: Visit the village where the dental camp will be set up. Meet with local people and the organisers.

Tuesday: Set up the clinic, conduct examinations and scans/Xrays, book patients in for further treatment and, where possible, give treatments on the same day if possible.

Wednesday: Start treatment for the scanned patients and conduct more examinations for new patients.

Thursday: Follow up for the treated patients, continue the treatments started on previous days and work with more new patients.

Friday: Final treatments, follow-ups, and advice on dental health and oral hygiene.

Saturday: Transfer back to Dharamshala airport.

If you stay longer than two weeks, the itinerary will continue along a similar format.

Accommodation and Food

  • You will live in a purpose-built volunteer house on the outskirts of Palampur
  • Up to 20 participants can be accommodated at a time and you should expect to share a room with three other people
  • Each room is en-suite with western style toilet, hot water and shower
  • There is WiFi access, but it is not reliable – we recommend getting a local SIM card with a data allowance in India
  • A real bonus is the yoga class held on the roof of the accommodation, giving you a chance to unwind relax while gazing at the stunning views of the Himalayas
  • There is also a badminton court in front of the accommodation, and lots of games to enjoy with other interns
  • The house is a 15-minute walk from the main road (where you can catch the bus into town)
  • You will be cooked 3 delicious meals a day, seven days a week, allowing you to experience real Indian cuisine

Language and Cultural Week

To prepare for your dental elective, we recommend that you take part in our optional language and cultural week in Delhi for an additional £415.

The week provides an opportunity to relax, get over your flight and learn lots about your new home. We provide Hindi lessons, including key words and phrases that you will find useful when you arrive in Palampur.

The Language and Cultural week starts on the Monday before you head to Palampur to begin your dental elective.

What do I need to know regarding Covid-19?

We have been working closely with our partners in India and keeping an eye on the current travel restrictions to ensure we have the most up to date information and give you peace of mind. Please see the links below for more information.

Program updates:

We expect there to be small changes to the program in order to accommodate restrictions in place at the time of travel. These may include:

  • social distancing
  • accommodation amendments
  • private transfers instead of groups
  • proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival (taken within 72 hours before travel)
  • wearing masks and other protective clothing
  • extra health and safety measures

Depending on when you are due to travel, some of these may become obsolete. We advise to be prepared for a quick turnaround of travel arrangements and having back up options should changes need to be made.

Travel arrangements

Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) – for the optional Language and Cultural week and then Gaggal Airport in Dharamshala (DHM) to begin your dental elective
Arrival day: Sunday. The elective begins in Palampur on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month.
Transfers: You will be met at Dharamshala airport and transferred to your accommodation ready to start your orientation on the Monday morning.
Departure day: Saturday – you will be taken back to Dharamshala Airport.

Supporting You

Rajiv and his team of coordinators in India will be looking after you throughout your stay on the dental elective. Our coordinators will have daily contact with you, often at the house at the end of each day to discuss how your day has gone.

On your first day, you will be given a half day orientation in Palampur so that you feel familiar with public transport and the local area. You will also be taken out for a meal to welcome you to the area.


  • Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
  • Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
  • Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
  • In-country support
  • Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
  • Gold level, 24/7 Pharos crisis management and incident support cover
  • Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
  • Thorough orientation on arrival
  • Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
  • Advice on visa requirements
  • Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
  • Airport pick up and drop off at Dharamshala Airport
  • Welcome meal at a restaurant
  • 3 meals a day
  • Optional language and cultural week that can be added – highly recommended
  • Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt 
  • Oyster luggage tag

On your return:

  • Welcome home pack
  • Certificate of Recognition (on request)
  • References (on request)

Not Included

  • Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
  • You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
  • Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
  • Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
  • Independent travel costs
  • Home country travel costs
  • Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
  • India e-visa (approx £45)
  • Spending money for drinks/snacks and cost of travel between project sites (£60 per week should be more than sufficient)
  • Vaccinations

More Information

Interns will start work around 9:30am and finish at 2pm.

At 2pm, you’ll head back to the accommodation for lunch and to relax for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

As a dental student already, you will know how important it is to be able to get worthwhile dental work experience on your CV. For those passionate about the world of dentistry, this dental elective offers a real experience or life as a dental professional in India.

This is the perfect opportunity for individuals who are diligent and committed. It is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. You will get to live with other like-minded interns and you will feel truly immersed in Indian life!

Gaining dental work experience for your CV is vital if you want to stand out from the crowd when it comes to starting your career. Showing experience from your time in India will demonstrate that you are committed, outgoing and have an in-depth understanding of a different type of dental system.

For the dental camp to run, we need a minimum of 5 interns on the elective at one time. So that we can ensure we get a group of 5, we ask for some flexibility with your dates so that we can make this work for everyone.

This elective is ideal for a group of student friends who want to gain experience together.

The dental elective is available all year round, beginning on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. Generally, volunteers arrive in Palampur on the Sunday, and leave again on the Saturday at the end of their programme.

If you want to join our language and cultural week in Delhi, before joining the internship in Palampur, you will need to be in Delhi ready to start on the 1st or 3rd Monday of the month.

We need a minimum of 5 interns at one time to be able to run this itinerary.

There are a number of airlines that offer direct daily flights between Delhi and Dharamshala.

If you don’t want to fly from Delhi to Dharamshala, there is a 10 hour bus journey you can take from Delhi.

This can be booked on arrival and is operated by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation. Interns will be picked up from the bus station and taken to the accommodation.

The temperature in Palampur ranges between 2 and 15 degrees centigrade (Jan) up to 30 degrees centigrade (May). Summer is usually much hotter, but cool in the evenings. During the winter months, it is usually warm during the day and cold at night. Palampur is located in a valley which means that it feels much cooler and fresher than other parts of India – making it a great place to stay!

The monsoon arrives in July and August. Whilst you should expect heavy downpours, it doesn’t rain all day everyday!

A budget of £60 per week should be more than enough.

Included in that you will need to cover the cost of local transport each day, this would cost approximately £2 per day.

Credit cards are advised for emergencies, as well as enough cash to see you through the first few days, there are ATM’s and currency exchanges at the airport and all over Delhi and Palampur.

The major banks in India are State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC bank, Axis, Kotak Mahindra Band and Standard Chartered bank.

Visas must be applied for before departure. 30 day visas are available to nationals from many countries online. Simply visit the Indian Visa Online website for more information. If you are looking to stay longer than 30 days, you will have to visit the Indian Mission (Embassy or High Commission) in your home country.

You will need to keep copies of the following documents whilst in India:

  • Passport
  • Flight Tickets
  • Insurance
  • Visa

Most people who book with Oyster are solo travellers who meet other interns on arrival.

However, for this dental elective, we would be delighted to organise the project for a group of friends who are all studying dentistry.

You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need.

Vaccinations are usually recommended for the following conditions: Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Recommendations do change and it is important to discuss your personal requirements with your doctor.

The volunteer accommodation has a perimeter fence with a guard hut at the gate. There is a member of staff responsible for security 24 hours a day. When you are away from the accommodation (on the project), there are always house staff around, cleaning and preparing food.

Palampur is considered a safe place for foreigners. You will get a full safety briefing on arrival. Common sense rules apply and there is a curfew for volunteers. There will be in-country support throughout your stay.

The volunteer house is in a neighbourhood which has access to local markets. The house is a 15 minute walk to the main road and then you can take a bus into town. The bus journey takes 15 minutes.

The main dental clinic that you will work in is on the way to town and only 10 minutes by bus.

Participants will live in a volunteer house in Palampur. The accommodation has fans and WiFi, although WiFi can be temperamental. The houses have single sex, shared rooms with 4 people to a room. Each room has a western bathroom attached.

Typically, for breakfast you will be served tea, bread, butter, jam and eggs. For dinner, you will be served delicious, freshly prepared, Indian food. Typical Indian cuisine consists of spices and herbs, using ingredients such as chillies, nutmeg, ginger, garlic and cardamom.

WiFi is available in internet cafes. There is WiFi at the accommodation, although this can be temperamental. We recommend you get a local SIM card on arrival and use the data from that. The signal is good at the accommodation and in the areas you will be working in.

Palampur is in UTC +05:30.

India 3 pin plug (type D)

Lots! You’ll have plenty of time to explore Palampur and the surrounding area at the weekend. Here are some highlights:

  • Visit the famous Tea Gardens
  • Tashi Jong Monastery
  • Baijnath Temple (Shiv Temple)
  • Explore Dharamshala and visit Mcleod ganj – the home of the Dalai Lama
  • Trekking in the Himalayas
  • Paragliding in Billing

An optional, and highly recommended, language and cultural week can be provided in Delhi before you begin your volunteering. This gives you language training (useful for your project!), cultural awareness training, cooking lessons and the opportunity to visit the tourist hot-spots in Delhi. Also included is a visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal!

Evenings are free and 2 days a week will be rest days. Some flexibility will be required for the dental camp.

You will be back from the clinic each day by mid afternoon, leaving you with a few hours to relax and enjoy the accommodation before dinner each day.

Supervision will be fairly intensive during the first few days, when you will receive a thorough induction and project-related training. On day one at the project, you will be shown the way on public transport by a member of staff. Once you are comfortable with things, you will travel each day on your own/with other volunteers. On the project you will be supervised by the dental staff you are shadowing. At the accommodation, there will be staff that visit to cook meals and check in with you each day.

Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are at the project. This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the time you are dropped back there. Before and after these times, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to leave the project during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.

Got a question or want to chat to Project Manager Roger who has first-hand experience of the project? Call +44 1892 771971or email: – [email protected].

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