Testimonies from many healthcare professionals like medical residents say that doing volunteer work regularly made them happier and healthier. Aside from the title and money you derive from being a doctor, they discovered that volunteerism gave them immense satisfaction. This can also rekindle your passion for your job and help you de-stress thus preventing job burnout. With the numerous benefits given and gained from doing volunteer work, medical residents are encouraged to join.
One of the most enjoyable things in offering your services to others is that you do not have to charge your clients. The value that you can receive from it is the satisfaction from changing other people’s lives with your help. Being able to see how much a person improves as the days go by is such a tremendous return. Just imagine how many people you can help to live that are capable of paying forward the good deed to others. Also, you can work without a tight schedule unlike being in the hospital or in private practice. With this, you can spend more time with your patients and thoroughly address their needs.
Another benefit of participating in volunteer works is that it can help you have a closer look at the numerous problems that sick people are facing like poverty. This allows you to understand how it is to be on the shoes of your patients which can help and motivate you to become a better doctor in the long run. You will also be able to identify that there are numerous factors that can affect a person’s health than what you usually read in textbooks. That could be the cultural differences, lifestyle preferences, the availability of an affordable and encompassing healthcare plan, and economics. You will be able to realize that some patients cannot get immediate medical attention and do not buy the medicines they need because they cannot afford any of them.
Getting the hang of being in a full-time hospital job with long shifts, doing numerous paperwork, and building a team with your colleagues can truly help you survive in the workplace but the most important thing about being a doctor can be learned in being a part of volunteer projects. That is connecting with your patients and being empathetic. Patient care definitely extends outside the clinic or hospital.
Volunteering can also be a good way to have relevant responsibilities and experience leadership roles. This opportunity can also help you create a network and develop relationships with your colleagues, potential mentors, and various people who could be your patients.
No matter how fulfilling and satisfying volunteer work is, there are still challenges that you have to face. First, as much as you want to help your patients more, all you can give them are your services because of insufficient resources. Take note that most volunteer clinics do not offer operations and other important services for patients. Your time, effort, and expertise are a huge deal to the patients but they may not be able afford the huge hospital bills and medicines necessary for their complete recovery. It could be heartbreaking to see that you cannot operate on a person no matter how badly he needs it because no hospital is willing to offer its facilities for free.
Also, getting to know the difficult life of patients could be emotionally overwhelming. It could be beneficial to understand their circumstances so that you can relate to them more but seeing how bad it is in real life, could be upsetting. There are many difficulties encountered by poor patients. Aside from their inability to buy proper food, the produce in their community might not be fresh and the water maybe contaminated. They may live far from medical clinics or hospitals, there might be a language barrier between patients and their doctors and other problems related to poverty. The most terrible thing for you is that you cannot do anything about these problems.
Despite all of these setbacks, just think that your service is still a big help to them. If you want to help more maybe you could refer them to your friends or other institutions who can give additional assistance to these patients.
Becoming a volunteer doctor can surprise you both good and bad. The bad thing is you will find that there are many patients who are below the poverty line. Aside from that, they are also not qualified for any form of healthcare coverage because of state-specific guidelines. With that, charitable clinics are their only recourse of receiving medical attention. One good thing that will astonish you is, no matter how difficult life is for them, they will never forget to thank you. It is shocking that many physicians in their hospital or private practice complain about never hearing a “thank you” from their patients. It is as if they do not deserve their gratitude because they were paid for consultations. Some patients do not value the sincerity and care that their doctors give them which are usually beyond their expected services as a doctor. The case is different when you do it for free. There are even volunteer doctors that expressed how good they felt when their patients sent them Thank You notes to show how much they appreciate them.
To be granted the opportunity to look at the whole picture and realize how underprivileged patients need more medical help and attention can also count as an unexpected eye-opening experience in your life. More importantly, you will be surprised of how much difference your expertise can make in many people’s lives.
Becoming a volunteer doctor can also help you advance your career. It allows you to improve your skills and widen your knowledge because you will gain more experience in treating different people with their varied ailments. It can also give you new perspectives and help you improve your patient management skills which is a big factor in being a success in your profession.
Moreover, being a volunteer doctor can be a plus factor on your resume. You can also get a recommendation from the volunteer clinic you worked in so that you will be able to enter one of the best hospitals and qualify for the program of your choice.
Lastly, volunteer work can make you a physician for life. Even after you retire, you could still help many people with your expertise. By the time you reach that point in life, it is also important to remember to keep your medical license active so that you can continue being a doctor for the rest of your life. This will also allow you to attend to your patients until the end of your service or their need for your service.
For students who would want to volunteer, volunteer programs can be found in club fairs. Speaking to an academic or pre-health advisor could also be a good idea. There might also be an office for community service at your university. For those who are already medical residents and is still finding volunteering opportunities, you can directly contact charities, foundations, hospital, clinics, research facilities, laboratories, and other organizations or directly looking up online. You can also start helping family, relatives, friends and the community to live in.
It is expected that you will face different kinds of illnesses when you do volunteer work, but if there are many volunteer doctors in your organization, it is best to select a specific niche. If you have the opportunity, find volunteer work that focuses on something that you truly have an interest in doing so that you will feel motivated, enjoy the experience, and will be useful for your specialization. If you are still unsure what kind of volunteer work you want to do or even what specialization to take, you might need to try several volunteer experiences before finding out what you really want to do for the rest of your career. Do not do something just because you want to look good to other doctors or you will be unhappy and uncontented in the end. When finding a job after residency, talking about your volunteer experience during job interviews will sound more sincere and believable if you were truly passionate about what you do. That is why it is important to have a variety of experiences so that you will determine what you are best at and where your real passion lies. You will not have a difficult time doing your commitments if you truly love what you do, and you will do it to the best of your ability.
Performing volunteer tasks that are not related to your profession may also be interesting to you. There is no problem with that. However, your expertise as a doctor is much more needed by people and it is also very important that you sharpen your skills as a doctor during volunteer activities. Regardless of what kind of service you are willing to donate, what is most important is that you are able to help people.
Maintaining a record of your volunteer work can be a good idea for advancing your professional career. You will also have something on your resume that will help you apply for new positions and programs. To keep your records organized and complete, take note of the tasks that you have performed, the number of hours you spent on different activities, and the person who supervised you. Many institutions will be looking for this information on your application. In addition to this, make journal writing a habit. This will come in handy when you have to accomplish any write-ups in the future.
There are many organizations that you can join so that you can experience doing volunteer work. Start by looking near you. There are many local charitable groups that will be happy to have you on board. International volunteering organizations can also be a great option for you. Besides, it will be fun to be traveling and discovering new places since medical volunteer organizations can take you anywhere around the world. More importantly, you will be exposed to new people and different types of communities and you will have the chance to help those who are extremely needy. You will also have the chance to handle various health problems and take note of the different medical approaches as it may differ from country to country. Just a few of these groups for doctors are the following:
Many doctors have tried to participate in this program and most of them have positive feedback and experiences with this opportunity. You will find this a great way to make a significant impact on Ugandan communities and be able to work with passionate and dedicated people. It will also be enjoyable to explore the wonder of the country and go on safari and water rafting in the Nile on the weekends. This opportunity is available all year round and lasts for two to four weeks, three to six months, or five to eight weeks. To be more specific, volunteers will work in rural clinics and do various tasks which aim to support public health in that locality. This initiative will allow volunteers to have a glimpse of rural community development and how it works.
This project is active in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Vietnam, South Africa, Peru, Malawi, India, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Bali. You can apply for the program all-year-round and it can last for one to two years, seven to twelve months, nine to twelve weeks, five to eight weeks, three to six months, two to four weeks, or one to two weeks. GoEco is one of the best options for volunteer work because it offers a wide range of programs and many destinations. This program will truly be helpful to people because you will spend your time and effort in supporting understaffed hospitals and clinics. It will also be a truly amazing opportunity to be able to mingle with the locals and be able to help anybody regardless of their status or background. You will be able to take home learnings from this trip as you were able to observe the healthcare systems of other countries.
This program is a worldwide initiative that takes one to two weeks, two to four weeks, five to eight weeks, or nine to twelve weeks, or three to six months. IVHQ has already been existing for ten years and has over 18,000 volunteers yearly. It is one of the most prominent volunteer programs in the world as it allows its volunteers to work in different kinds of settings while at the same time, getting to know the community and its members. Just a few of IVHQ’s initiatives are malaria testing and wound care.
This is a project in Nepal that can take two to four weeks, five to eight weeks, or nine to twelve weeks. Frontier’s medical volunteer abroad programs were created such that volunteers can achieve real-world experiences and offering support to rural communities all over the remote places Nepal as well. You will also be able to stay with a host family that is welcoming, friendly, and willing to help anytime. Signing-up for Frontier could make a great impact on your resume.
This organization is present in over 30 countries all over the world. Volunteering in this group could take around one to two years, seven to twelve months, three to six months, nine to twelve weeks, five to eight weeks, two to four weeks, or one to two weeks. Love Volunteers is committed to helping communities directly by allowing volunteers to give locals the support that they need. Also, volunteering for this group will allow you to meet people who are very motivated in giving out their services. An added bonus is that you will able to explore different places, food, and cultures. This is a cultural immersion experience.
If you want to explore the beauty of Belize found in Central America and at the same time be able to get to know and help people in this country, be part of the Kaya Responsible Travel. You can stay with this program for one to two weeks, one to two years, two to four weeks, three to six months, five to eight weeks, seven to twelve months, or nine to twelve weeks. This opportunity can allow you to learn from senior doctors while you assist local doctors and nurses. It can also broaden your knowledge about healthcare systems and improve your skills. This could be an amazing adventure for you.
This program sends its volunteers to Costa Rica for one to two weeks, two to four weeks, five to eight weeks, or nine to twelve weeks. Aside from getting hands-on experience and giving back to people, you will have the change to experience the pura vida lifestyle of this country. This is a highly recommended program by doctors because they have enjoyed their experiences in Costa Rica.
This abroad medical volunteer initiative is active in India and can last for two to four weeks, five to eight weeks, or nine to twelve weeks. This program can enable you to work in the Rural or Urban Himalayan Rotation. You will be able to see challenges that communities are facing in terms of public health and be to help in supporting improvements. This program is also focused on learning by being under the supervision of local doctors so you will surely have a take-home lesson from this trip.
This program sends volunteers to South American countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. This can last for the entire spring break or for seven to twelve months, three to six months, nine to twelve weeks, five to eight weeks, two to four weeks, or one to two weeks. Maximo Nivel puts value in immersing to the community by learning the language and the culture of the community aside from community service. You will not only make an impact on other people’s lives but to yours as well.
Volunteering your services as a doctor will allow you to enjoy doing your work. Aside from the self-satisfaction that you will receive, it can also help you advance your career as a doctor. You might be encountering many difficulties along the way, but these experiences are part of the learning process in volunteer work. Also, you will be able to understand the situation of your patients which will make you a more empathetic doctor. Looking for volunteer opportunities will not be a problem for you. Many charitable clinics and organizations will be happy to accept you. At the end of the day, volunteering will make you realize that being a doctor is all about connecting with people and being able to help them. Volunteering is not only life-changing for patients but for you too.