Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

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Kennedy
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Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by Kennedy » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:16 pm

My brother is a physician. He wants to volunteer for a short-term period (? one week) outside the U.S. in a medical capacity along with his college student daughter. The daughter wants to fluff up her resume in anticipation of medical school applications. (She also wants to do good, so there is some altruistic motivation as well...) My niece has hands-on experience working in a nursing home as a CNA. She understands the volunteer work will not be glamorous, and with her nursing home background, she is fully prepared for that.

They know there are volunteer opportunities within the U.S, but their preference is to work outside the country for this particular trip. Safety is certainly a consideration.

My brother prefers not to volunteer for a group that is "too" religiously slanted, as subjective as that is. He told me he contacted a couple of local churches, and it sounded as if the religious part was too much for him personally with the prayers over the patients, hymn singing at night and the like. He just wants to practice good medicine for those in need and to expose his daughter to the experience as well.

I've been trying to help him find a non or "lightly" religious-associated group that sponsors medical volunteers, but I haven't had much luck. Doctors Without Border requires at least a six month commitment. Any suggestions?


sawhorse
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by sawhorse » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:38 am

What is his specialty?

obgraham
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by obgraham » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:11 pm

OP, I speak from experience, having done some 15 such trips. The large outfits like MSF are bureaucracies, given to meetings about everything.

The most effective overseas work has been with small agencies, often run by a handful of people. They can make all the needed arragements, you the doc just go and do your thing. However most are religion-based. I advise just stifling oneself, join up, and deal with them. They are basically kind and giving people. In every group I have gone with, there has been several “nonreligious” participants, who manage just fine.

If you PM me, I can provide a number of places to check. For starters, Medical Teams International, in Portland OR, and Esperanca, in Phoenix, are two largely secular outfits.

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dm200
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by dm200 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:35 pm

In some countries, religious entities may be the only effective structure in localities. Many (but not all) medical outreach is not based on "religion" or converting anyone. .

Here is one person (actually an Ophthalmologist) who has organized many such trips: http://marysusancarlson.tumblr.com/ I am sure if you contact Dr Sue, she can be of assistance.

Here is another organization that does great work - both internationally and domestically https://www.ramusa.org/

protagonist
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by protagonist » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:44 pm

Kennedy wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:16 pm
My brother is a physician. He wants to volunteer for a short-term period (? one week) outside the U.S. in a medical capacity along with his college student daughter. The daughter wants to fluff up her resume in anticipation of medical school applications. (She also wants to do good, so there is some altruistic motivation as well...) My niece has hands-on experience working in a nursing home as a CNA. She understands the volunteer work will not be glamorous, and with her nursing home background, she is fully prepared for that.

They know there are volunteer opportunities within the U.S, but their preference is to work outside the country for this particular trip. Safety is certainly a consideration.

My brother prefers not to volunteer for a group that is "too" religiously slanted, as subjective as that is. He told me he contacted a couple of local churches, and it sounded as if the religious part was too much for him personally with the prayers over the patients, hymn singing at night and the like. He just wants to practice good medicine for those in need and to expose his daughter to the experience as well.

I've been trying to help him find a non or "lightly" religious-associated group that sponsors medical volunteers, but I haven't had much luck. Doctors Without Border requires at least a six month commitment. Any suggestions?
In 1981, just having finished my internship, I was in the same position. I wanted to work in a third world country as a medical volunteer, but I did not want to be connected to a religious institution .

I wrote several government's departments of health and offered my services as a volunteer, including my CV (resume). I was offered a position working for the national health service of the Republic of Seychelles (when it was still a bona fide isolated third world country)...in addition I was offered a small stipend equivalent to that of their other "medical officers" (my recollection is approx. $700/month plus use of a home). I worked doing general internal medicine with two expat MDs from the UK, and also wound up doing psychiatry, pediatrics and radiology. Fortunately they had surgery covered (I would have been dangerous!) They had a barely functional ultrasound machine in mothballs that nobody wanted to use- I taught myself to use it (mostly in evaluating pregnancies though I used it whenever I could to gain experience, which ultimately played a part in my choice of radiology residency training, something I hadn't considered prior to that). It was the best professional experience of my life (as well as an amazing personal experience).

Prior to that, just after finishing my course work in medical school (and prior to officially graduating), I joined a small group of European doctors in starting a small clinic adjacent to a Buddhist monastery a day's travel from Kathmandu. I ran into them in the monastery, we became friends, and I joined their project. I also had a friend who worked at a refugee center in Kenya close to the Uganda border during the brutal regime of Idi Amin and I just showed up and helped him out, though only for a few weeks.

Having done my medical school training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, I was well prepared for making the best out of limited resources.

I don't know if writing target government agencies has a high rate of success, or if I was just extremely fortunate, but it worked for me in 1981.

Good luck.

Electrum
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by Electrum » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:15 pm

My daughter and I had a very good experience with this organization:

http://capecares.info/

btenny
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by btenny » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:27 pm

Back in about 1995 my next door neighbor did 4 weeks or so with the Mt Everest climbers medical group in Nepal and at Everest Base camp. He went with his son who who was into long hikes and climbing. He talked about it all the time back then. He is GP and kid doctor but did lots of high altitude work with adults when he was there. He loved it.

https://worldextrememedicine.com/blog/c ... icine-cme/

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gasdoc
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by gasdoc » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:57 am

I (physician), my wife (nurse), and our daughter (premed, in college) have traveled to Guademala twice, the third coming up next summer. The trips are through a small group based in Texas, that starts by going to remote areas, severely underserved, and starts by bringing in good water supply. After that, they set up a medical clinic with very basic operating rooms. They then bring in staff and supplies for one week periods at a time, rotating between the different sites. I can vouch for their efficiency with money and supplies, and the services are very well received by the people. The clinics are established in safe areas, away from the violence of the major cities, in areas where the people in the communities served are extremely glad to have them there and are protective. I highly recommend this group.

The group is called Refuge International. They can be found easily on the web. Good luck.

gasdoc

bfizz
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by bfizz » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:02 am

I traveled with this group a few years ago (not as a medical professional but as a support volunteer): https://www.ghanamakeadifference.org/me ... ions.html

They have organized annual medical trips for the last few years at the local hospital where the organization's has a home that provides temporary housing for orphaned children and a few with special needs. Fantastic organization that is really helping some of those most in need.

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dm200
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by dm200 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:44 am

Sometimes volunteers without medical credentials can be of great assistance as part of groups doing this work. They can often help if they have language skills of the local populations and with organizing the clinics. This assistance can allow the medical folks to see and treat more patients and be more effective.

obgraham
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by obgraham » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:03 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:44 am
Sometimes volunteers without medical credentials can be of great assistance as part of groups doing this work. They can often help if they have language skills of the local populations and with organizing the clinics. This assistance can allow the medical folks to see and treat more patients and be more effective.
Exactly. Many of the groups I have been with will be about 35 people. That'll be about 4-6 "providers" (MD,PA,DDS, etc), 6-10 ancillary, like RN's and Pharm, and the rest are translators, organizers, crowd control, dental "light holders"!. It takes a lot of people. We could see 2500 people in a week of clinic, if we have enough help.

Classof2023
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by Classof2023 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:33 am

Check out this place. The folks who started it are the real deal...

https://oneworldsurgery.org

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gasdoc
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Re: Want to do non-religious, short-term medical volunteer work outside the US

Post by gasdoc » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:17 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:44 am
Sometimes volunteers without medical credentials can be of great assistance as part of groups doing this work. They can often help if they have language skills of the local populations and with organizing the clinics. This assistance can allow the medical folks to see and treat more patients and be more effective.
Speaking for Refuge International, where I have a fair amount of experience, there is actually NOT a large need for non-medical people, with the exception of maybe Spanish translators. The reason is that these days there are lots of college aged kids that are looking for volunteer activities in the medical fields to satisfy volunteer requirements for med schools, etc. In fact, those are the slots that fill up first, so we have had to sign up for volunteer slots well in advance to get a spot for our college aged daughter, who is the only one in our family that is not licensed in a medical field.

gasdoc

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