Frequently Asked Questions

I am a Penn student and I would like to find out what opportunities are available to me in Botswana.

If you are a medical student, you’re in luck; we have two formal funded programs run from the SOM Global Health Programs Office that provide research experiences for MS1s during the summer and clinical experiences for MS3s year-round.

If you are a nursing student, students enrolled in Nursing 341 during the summer term (Nursing in the Community: Clinical) may submit an application to complete their Community Heath clinical rotation in Gaborone, Botswana. Learn more from the SON Global Health page. We also occasionally have placements for a nursing student in the summer internship program run through Penn’s IIP.

If you are a dental student, you may be able to spend four weeks working under Dr. Motsholathebe Phuthego, an oral surgeon at Princess Marina Hospital through a program out of the SDM Office of International Relations.

If you are student from any of Penn’s other schools (Law, Vet, SP2, SAS, etc.) the program that is likely to be the best fit for you is our summer internship program that places ~14 students from Penn in 10-week internship positions working with assorted companies and organizations in Botswana beginning each May. Learn more about opportunities and deadlines at the IIP Site.

Remember too if you are a Penn undergrad, that you can spend a semester studying abroad at the University of Botswana through Penn Abroad. We MAY also be able to line up an unpaid internship for you during your semester at UB at our BUP office in Gaborone (conveniently located on UB’s campus!) OR through one of our partner organizations. Contact Heather Calvert if you plan to spend a semester at UB and would like to discuss an internship opportunity.

If none of the categories above describe you, or match what you are seeking, then realistically, we probably do NOT have a program for you. You might be able to create an experience to match your goals, but you’ll need to identify at least three things first:

  • A Sponsor: You need a BUP, Penn, or UB faculty member who will agree to sponsor you if you are working on an academic project or research. If you are working at or interning with a local organization, this might suffice. We cannot support student forays into Botswana without a goal and a plan. You need to find someone who agrees that your plan sounds like a good idea and they are willing to sponsor you.
  • Time: At least one month. It is difficult to get anything accomplished in less than a month. Any project under 4 weeks is unlikely to succeed. More time in country is almost always better. If you want to go to Botswana for two weeks, go for vacation. If you are looking to get a faculty member to agree to sponsor you, you are almost always more likely to succeed, the more time you agree to spend working in country.
  • Funding: You will need to cover the costs of your travel to Botswana (~$2500), your housing in Botswana (~$30 per night), and any other incidental expenses.


I am NOT a Penn student. Can I still participate in a Botswana-UPenn Partnership program?

Unfortunately, no; we do not accept non-Penn students into any of our student programs in Botswana.


I am a Penn Medicine or CHOP resident. What opportunities are available to me in Botswana?

There are opportunities for Penn residents and Fellows to complete a clinical rotation in Botswana. There are various funding arrangements depending on what department you are from, but a few things remain the same across all programs.

  • All residents must commit to spending at least 4 weeks working in country and preferably 6 weeks (which usually requires using your vacation time).
  • All residents must register with the BHPC in order to practice medicine in Botswana.
  • All residents must have the permission of the department, the approval of the BUP (contact Heather Calvert), sign a risk and release, and adhere to all the other rules of the Partnership.

Dermatology Residents: Contact Dr. Carrie Kovarik for more information. We usually have gift funding to cover travel and housing for 2 Derm resident rotations to Botswana each year. Dermatoloy residents work with Dr. Didintle Motsepe in the Dermatology Clinic at PMH and may work on outreach and other projects. (Note: That non-Penn dermatologists may be eligible to participate in this rotation under a program with the American Academy of Dermatology.)

Medicine and Med/Peds Residents: Contact Heather Calvert for application information and other details. We accept ~10 medicine residents a year, and the Department of Medicine provides funding up to $2200 for travel and covers housing. (You must cover incidentals.) Medicine residents rotate at Princess Marina Hospital, teach UB and other trainees on the wards, and may go on outreach to area hospitals and clinics with BUP faculty. Global Health Medicine residents may also elect to do two rotations in Botswana. Contact Dr. Joe Garland for more information about the Global Health track.

OB/GYN Residents: Contact Heather Calvert for information. We have gift funding through the BUP to provide up to $2500 each to cover travel and housing for 2 OB/GYN resident rotations to Botswana each year. In general, OB/GYNs will spend their time working under the supervision of Dr. Doreen Ramogola-Masire at our cervical cancer screening clinics.

Pediatric / CHOP Residents: Contact Dr. Rodney Finalle for more information.

Radiology Residents: Contact Dr. Wally Miller for more information. Radiology covers travel expenses up to $2000 for 1-2 residents per year. Residents pay their own housing ($20 per night) and other incidental expenses.

Surgery Residents: Contact Dr. Jon Morris for more information. The surgery department may cover travel expenses for 1 resident per year. Residents pay their own housing ($20 per night) and other incidental expenses.

All other Penn residents: There MAY be an opportunity for you. Contact Heather Calvert and your department head to see if s/he has funding for you. Note: If you are NOT a Penn Medicine, Health System, or CHOP resident, you may not rotate through our program. See more below.


I am going to Botswana for a clinical rotation or to work on a project and I would like to bring my spouse/partner/friend/parent/child with me. What support is available to them?

None. Our country staff is busy working on our local ongoing programs and does not have time to drive guests or coordinate activities for them. Children are not permitted to stay in our flats, and adult guests may only stay IF space is available, with advance notice, and are required to pay a nightly fee ($30). Global health experiences are rigorous and immersive and we expect all students and trainees on funded programs to work fulltime during their rotation period. If you wish to explore the region with family or friends, it would be best to meet up with them either before or after your rotation time.


I am NOT from Penn and but I already have a project planned in Botswana. Can I stay in your housing?

Maybe. If we have space available and you are working with one of our partners (Harvard/BHP, UB, PMH, MOH, etc.) on an academic, research or healthcare-related project we MIGHT be able to put you up for a few nights for a fee ($35 per night) IF you understand that our housing is NOT a hotel and are able to comply with our rules. There is a good hotel listing on our website. And we are happy to share our Handbook with you. Send us a note outlining your project and letting us know what dates you are seeking if you are looking for housing. We try to help other academics where we can.


I would like to volunteer. Where can I sign up?

For the most part, we can’t accept volunteers.

IF you are a health professional (doctor, nurse, etc.) we MIGHT be able to find a place that could use your services in Botswana IF you are able to spend at least one month working in country, have global health experience, and are self-funded (meaning you will cover your travel, housing, meal and incidental expenses). In general, even the most experienced health professional require both someone to show them the ropes, and time to figure out a new system before their services are truly useful; this usually takes a couple of weeks. Also, no physician can see patients in Botswana until they have registered with the Botswana Health Professions Council (BHPC); this registration alone takes one week.

IF you just need a break from your regular job and have always wanted to see Africa, absolutely plan a trip to Botswana which is a gorgeous country that has some first-class tourist sites. This is a good place to start:

IF you are a student interested in an unpaid internship who is interested in working in the Partnership office IN Philadelphia, we might be able to use you. Email us.

IF you are a graduating Penn student looking to volunteer for a year (perhaps you are planning on applying to medical school and are seeking clinical or research experience), we probably can’t help you. (See other answer above.) If you can spend at least nine months working fulltime in country and are self-funded, there might be someone in country willing to supervise you. Send us an email with your resume, career goals, and an overview of what exactly you are seeking to us and we’ll shop your “offer” around.


I didn’t realize there was such a large in country team! How many are you and what do you do here?

We have more than eighty full-time faculty and staff in country. Of those, only a few actually work on Penn student and trainees programs. The majority of our staff work on our regular clinical programs in HIV, TB, cervical cancer, or telemedicine. Some employees work on our research program, including CFAR-funded studies, NIH RO1 funded studies, and those who work at our basic science laboratory. Others work on our ongoing education initiatives. You can read more about the work of the Partnership here.


Can I wire money to BUP?

NO. If you are a PI or program head and have a project that will have ongoing expenses, we can help you charge expenses to your grant funds in country and help with your in country finances. Please contact the BUP Business Administrator, Peter Mulcahy to set this up.


What do I need to bring with me for BHPC registration? (All residents/physicians MUST register with the BHPC if they will be working in the clinical setting. Students do NOT need to do this.)

  • 4 x Passport Photos. (These photos can easily be purchased in Botswana. They will need to be signed by an official there as being a true likeness of you. If you have photos already, take them with you to Botswana unsigned and they will help you to have them “notarized” in country.)
  • Notarized copy of your passport.
  • Notarized copy of your medical school diploma (NOTE: If your diploma is written in Latin, it should be translated to English and then notarized. A translated copy of the Penn diploma is available at  If you did not go to Penn but you have a Latin diploma, look on your school’s website for a translation.)
  • Notarized copy of your state medical license.
  • Copy of your CV.
  • 2 x Letters of reference. One from your program director and another senior member you work with / for.
  • Our in country staff will help you complete the form there and will provide you with an introductory letter.


What do I need to bring with me for a permit to stay in Botswana longer than 90 days?

  • Passport.
  • Academic qualifications - any diplomas or degrees or education certificates. Either take the originals to Botswana, or bring notarized copies.
  • 2 passport size pictures - These are best and easily obtained after you arrive in country as the sizing is slightly different from US passport sizes.
  • Registration certificate with Medical Counsel (For physicians)
  • Marriage certificate - if married.
  • Birth certificates - for dependents, if you have any.
  • School admission letters - if you have children and they will be going to school.
  • BWP 3000 - payment application fee, usually approved by the PI for your grant/your supervisor.
  • Work contract letter.


I have a project starting up, how do I ship stuff to Botswana (research items / equipment)?

For goods purchased and imported from suppliers in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries (Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland):

  • We need a scanned copy of the invoice for goods to be shipped to you from a SACU country, at least ten (10) Botswana working days before the goods are expected to ship.
  • BUP Operations (Mr. Khunong) will prepare and submit a letter that includes a description of the contents of the shipment and the total purchase price, to the Commissioner General, Technical Unit, BURS.
  • BURS Technical Unit will issue a letter to BUP, confirming the specific consignment is exempt from VAT.
  • BUP Operations will scan a copy of the letter to you for you to forward to your supplier to give to their shipper.

For goods purchased and imported from suppliers outside of Botswana and SACU member countries (e.g. Europe, Asia, North America):

  • We require scanned copies of the invoice and way bill or bill of lading, at least two (2) Botswana working days in advance of when the goods are expected to arrive at customs.  Details about the local counterpart of the shipping agent, and/or the anticipated port and date/time of entry are extremely helpful.
  • BUP Operations (Mr. Khunong) will prepare and submit an application for an importation tax exemption certificate (CE110 form) with required supporting documents.
  • BURS Customs will stamp the CE110 application, authorising the goods for exemption from importation duties.
  • BUP Operations sends a copy of CE110 exemption certificate to you to forward to your supplier and their shipper, or the local shipping agent. In some rare instances, when the supplier acts as the shipper, we may make an arrangement to deliver the original CE110 forms at the time it is assessed for tax by Botswana Customs authorities.
  • The appointed Customs Clearing agent includes the CE110 exemption certificate in filing importation paperwork.
  • If you are bringing the goods with you on the flight we still need to get you the exemption to bring them in and for items intended to remain in Botswana (and not taken back out with you), we'll need the following to prepare the exemption application:
    • a letter indicating details of the specific items including item description and quantity in each box (equivalent of a waybill or bill of lading,
    • invoices or documentation for the items packed that match the description and quantity of the goods contained in the boxes, showing their value
    • Please note that all suppliers MUST NOT charge you VAT for goods purchased by BUP for use in Botswana, and so all invoices should be exempt from VAT levies.

Note: When BUP tries to bring goods through ourselves, or a supplier chooses to transport the goods through borders on their own, we currently require the assistance of a Customs Clearing Agent.  Customs Clearing Agents are trained to use BURS customs software to prepare the appropriate forms for importation. This typically requires different agents on each side of the border, and requires a couple hundred Rand and a similar amount of Pula.  We have applied to gain customs clearing agent status ourselves, to be able to complete and submit customs forms on our own, rather than engage external agents.  This application process takes some time, and, in the meantime, if the supplier’s shipper has not organised this service, we suggest using existing clearing agents.


I just think what you are doing is great and I want to help.

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Send any other questions not answered here to Megan Doherty.

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