8 Compelling Reasons to Be Part of Medical Volunteering Abroad

8 Compelling Reasons to Be Part of Medical Volunteering Abroad

8 Compelling Reasons to Be Part of Medical Volunteering Abroad

It’s natural to feel sceptical about medical volunteering abroad.

Maybe you have been a general practitioner, a surgeon, or a dentist for years. Maybe you’re a social worker or a marketing professional. it

As long as you ask the right questions, it won’t matter.

There is much more to medical volunteering abroad than the operating room table.

If you look hard enough, you can find some great medical volunteering programmes that are ethical, sustainable, and impactful.

These are programmes that utilise volunteers’ diverse skills to make a difference in promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing preventable disease.

Here are eight compelling reasons to spend your career break or internship abroad as part of medical volunteering programme.


1. Medical Volunteering Isn’t Limited to Doctors and Nurses

Offering expertise where you have none does more harm than good.

Having that knowledge might be making you feel (rightfully) unsure about hopping on a plane to go play doctor overseas.

Thankfully there are many roles that contribute to health and well-being in a developing community.

You do not need medical expertise or health care experience to help people, as explained by Public Health. org.

In Inspire’s medical volunteering programmes having knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices, basic first aid, nutrition and sexual health is helpful.

You can conduct research or needs assessments in our communities to identify major health problems and sustainable solutions.

Medical and nursing students can learn about local diseases and treatments and assist local professionals by running routine health checks.

Individuals with a marketing background can help build health promotion campaigns in the community.

Do your research and discover whether you have more relevant and transferable skills than you originally thought.


2. Ethical Volunteer Programmes Work Towards Sustainability

When deciding if a volunteer trip is right for you, you should always tread cautiously and ask the right questions. Some volunteer programmes are more responsible than others. Many can do more harm than good in the communities they aim to help.

Thankfully there are programmes like Inspire that are focused on sustainability, and real impact.

They offer the chance to carry out your volunteer work without harming or demeaning your host community.

To make sure you’re choosing an ethical volunteering programme do your research.

A good medical volunteering programme will:

  • Never ask you to perform any task you’re not trained and qualified to perform.
  • Put the patients and community first by making sure that medical volunteers always have adequate and qualified supervision.
  • Understand the local context of the health challenges faced by the community.

Enjoy the knowledge that you’re making a positive difference.


3. You Can Make an Impact by Volunteering

If you go with an ethical programme like we described above, you can make a real difference.

Health centres that are struggling to provide the supplies and labour to keep their community healthy tend to value every extra volunteer.

Even if you find yourself occupied with seemingly menial tasks.

Checking patients in and out, updating their medical records, or just keeping treatment areas clean and tidy, will all help to free up the professionals to do their jobs more effectively.

Providing hands-on training, or lending a pair of listening ears and compassionate eyes can offer patients the touch of comfort that is often missing from under-resourced medical centres.

Just being there to lend support is sometimes the most invaluable gift you can give.

But supporting health programmes isn’t limited to working in health centres. For instance, you can help develop health curriculums to be taught at schools and in communities.

You can train teachers basic first aid so they can better care for their students. You can train local NGO workers to identify signs of domestic abuse.

Depending on your background, your interests, and your skills – you can make a difference.


4. You’ll Learn About Different Illnesses and Treatments


Medical professionals working in Europe or North America may be a little rusty on their tropical disease treatment.

Possibly they could use a refresher on healthy practices for areas without functioning plumbing and water treatment, as outlined by the World Health Organisation.

Regardless of how many years of experience you have, there’s always something new to see in a different part of the world. Whether it’s an unfamiliar condition or a different strategy for treating it.

Standards of privacy and hygiene at your worksite may be quite different from what you are used to. Despite this, it will provide a unique chance to learn efficient and effective alternative treatment strategies.

Giving you a new insight and knowledge base that you can share with your colleagues at home.


5. It’ll Open Your Eyes to Unfamiliar Situations

8 Compelling Reasons to Be Part of Medical Volunteering Abroad
You never realise how much work goes into the simple things.

Travelling between jobs or keeping an operating room sterile seems simple. Until you find yourself without reliable public transport or limitless cleaning and medical supplies.

Maintaining some sort of normality in your life is difficult anytime you go abroad.

This difficulty is intensified when you go to a community with limited resources. Suddenly life becomes a series of constant minor logistical hurdles.

You will wake up your problem-solving skills as you’re forced to stay on your toes. By solving mini-problems all day, you’ll likely find yourself thinking more creatively and offering innovative solutions to local challenges.


6. Your CV Will Get a Boost

You’re certain to face some challenges while volunteering abroad. You should look at them more as résumé builders than as daily annoyances.

More employers are listing intercultural communication and international experience as some of the most desirable qualities in prospective employees, as stated by Janice Mulholland of the British Council.

Simply undertaking a volunteer experience abroad shows that you’re adaptable, open to new challenges, and can communicate across cultural barriers.

In today’s increasingly global economy, these abilities are the kinds that make the difference between you and the next candidate.


7. You Can Help Train Others in a Range of Specialties

8 Compelling Reasons to Be Part of Medical Volunteering Abroad
Part of sustainable development is building the capacity of your local community to independently address their own health needs.

This means that, while you’ll be there to do the work on the ground and directly impact patients’ lives, you’ll also be investing in their ability to forge their own futures.

Often it is current and up to date expertise that’s lacking in poorly resourced communities. You can tackle this by sharing your own professional knowledge with colleagues at your worksite.

You can help to initiate a sustainable and systemic shift in a community’s health.


8. You’ll Build Your Cultural Competency

It tends to be the soft skills rather than the technical ones that land a job. They also help to build and boost your profile after a career break.

The intangibles like intercultural communication, critical thinking, or even learning a new language will probably have a lasting impact on you personally.

Working in a different culture teaches you to:

  • Understand and manage cultural and personality differences in the workplace
  • Learn how to communicate effectively with people of different backgrounds
  • How to solve problems collaboratively

Today more than ever, we find ourselves in workplaces and project teams. Where working towards a shared goal with others from different backgrounds is crucial to getting the job done.

Nothing prepares you to do so like volunteering abroad.


Are You Convinced Yet?

Medical volunteering abroad can make a lasting, meaningful, and sometimes transformative impact on a community in need.

It can be carried out ethically, sustainably and in a role you’re qualified for. Being accomplished in a way that treats your host community with respect.

Programmes like Inspire are designed to match volunteers’ individual profiles to a community’s needs.

With the right programme, you will gain new skills and experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your career and your life. It will also equip you to enter or return to the job market.

Got questions? Get in touch with us anytime by calling us at +44 1635 285666, go to our enquiries page, or leave a comment below.

Prakriti Malhotra is the founding director of Inspire. She has over 12 years’ experience helping individuals plan their overseas volunteering trips whether it be for their gap year, a sabbatical from work or a post retirement adventure.
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