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.
- 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.
- 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.