Thinking about volunteering abroad?

There is a growing need for valuable and progressive radiological and oncological international projects in global healthcare. We want to encourage such projects, in order to improve the access and coverage of high-quality, safe services in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). International work includes a wide spectrum of activities. It can incorporate teaching, training, organisational development, research support and involvement in the training curriculum in different countries.

Below are some tips to consider before undertaking a global health project.

Initial considerations:

  • Consider your motivations for volunteering overseas and the impact you will make.
  • Talk to others who have undertaken overseas projects or worked in LMIC before.
  • Carefully consider the personal, professional and potential service impact that might arise from you taking time out of training/employment.
  • Research the country, healthcare system and organisation you will be working in.

The project:

  • Consider the health needs of the community you will be working in and how your project can address these.
  • Gain knowledge about local/national healthcare systems in the relevant country.
  • Consider the long-term sustainability and impact of your project.
  • Ensure direct communication with overseas partners is made prior to starting the project.
  • Clarify expectations on both sides early on and agree the expected outcomes.
  • Set realistic goals with the involvement and agreement of the local partners.
  • Understand which facilities, local requirements and preparation will be required on both sides.
  • • Try to identify potential obstacles that might prevent you from achieving your goals.
  • Inform yourself about cultural practices in the country or region you visit.

Other practical considerations:

  • Consider the immigration and professional registration requirements of the country where you will be working. You may need a visa of some description.
  • Check if you need to join the local medical register before starting any clinical work.
  • Organise vaccinations and transportation overseas. 
  • Consider your personal safety or health issues that may arise while you are overseas.
  • Keep updated on the travel advice and alerts from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

For more information and advice about undertaking a global health project please read this article written by Dr Elizabeth Joekes.