16 Reasons Why Every Medical Professional Should Volunteer

by Ryan Winter on November 18, 2009

Some do it because it feels good to make others feel good. Some do it to expand their horizons. But not enough people do it. Why should you volunteer?

reasons_volunteer_medical_soliant

Meet Amazing People (Who Share Your Passion)

Health Volunteers Overseas sends qualified professionals across the globe to train local health care providers in anesthesia, dentistry, dermatology, hand surgery, hematology, internal medicine, nursing education, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopedics, oncology, pediatrics, physical therapy and wound care.

“Other volunteers from many different nations and backgrounds are such an encouraging sign of hope for humanity.” Notes one volunteer in Cambodia.

Visit Amazing Places

Volunteering your services is a great way to see the world while doing a good turn. Such an experience can be both inspiring and horizon-broadening.

Renew Your Commitment /Rejuvenate

Few vacations or spa treatments can compare to the fulfillment of lending a helping hand. Such a temporary job change can lead you to a renewed sense of purpose and perhaps even new career directions.

UMMA Free Clinic reminds me why I went into medicine in the first place,” says one recent volunteer.

It’s Good For Your Health

Could volunteering be good for your health? A new report that draws from the results of more than 30 studies on the topic says yes. Volunteering for healthcare workers within the healthcare industry is especially important as a new way to ensure that such workers themselves don’t become heavy users of the healthcare system.

Be Reminded of How Good Your Life is

You probably have it pretty good compared to a lot of patients, medical professionals in the developing world. Volunteering in other such countries can help put this into perspective and empower you to create positive change in such regions as well.

“It occurred to me that designing an all-volunteer health and veterinary care program for such desolate places might make life easier for a whole lot of people.” – Quote from volunteer.

“The vast differences between the health care system in developed countries and one such as Nepal is astounding and experiencing it first hand has given me a whole new perspective on my priorities in life. I have learned to be grateful for the amazing amount of opportunities offered to us in our country.” – Quote from volunteer.

Help Some of the Neediest People in the World (Sometimes Without Leaving Home)

From natural disasters, to refugee camps, the poorest people in the world, victims of torture and war.
To help:

Be Adventurous

If you thought the ER or the operating room was fast-paced, think again. Volunteering abroad can land you – literally – in the middle of exotic locales and inspiring challenges.

Save Lives

There’s something to be said about taking a break from saving lives in your day-to-day job to take a shot at saving lives in a venue that might not always give people many chances to stay alive and healthy.

“With a generous grant from the Lalor Foundation, 3AO and the Fundação Esperança trained a network of community health leaders to teach reproductive health education throughout the schools, health posts, and community centers of Santarém. The program worked in over 25 neighborhoods reaching a total population of 118,292. Though it is too early to judge the success of this program, the preliminary data shows dramatic decreases in the amount of sexually transmitted diseases reported by the Municipal Secretary of Health.” – Amazon Africa Aid

Health is a Human Right

HealthRight International is a global health and human rights organization working to build lasting access to health for excluded communities. The group works closely with communities and establish local partnerships to deliver health services. Their goal is to create lasting change that supports access to health while strengthening human rights.

Be a Good Neighbor in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico

Being neighborly isn’t just something you do at home: Volunteering your services helps instill a sense of corporate neighborliness: Doing so in disadvantaged areas of America or Mexico can be a rewarding experience for patients and you.

  • Los Médicos Voladores (LMV) – in Spanish, the flying doctors – is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health and well-being of geographically diverse peoples through education and the provision of no-cost, high-quality medical, dental, and optometric clinics.
  • Flying Samaritans is a volunteer organization which operates free medical clinics in Baja California, Mexico. Doctors, dentists, nurses, translators, pilots and support personnel drive or fly to clinics in private aircraft. The initiative is a cooperative agreement with the University of Baja California.

Improve Public Perception of Medical Profession (OR Help Out at Home)

You know you’re not in it for the big pay check. Do they? Volunteer to help underserved in USA

Give Hope to Others (or Share Your Faith, or Follow a Spiritual Calling)

You might not think of volunteering as a spiritual experience, but offering your services for free can be that indeed. Many volunteer-based medical organizations are faith-based and can foster spiritual experiences amongst both patients and volunteers.

Keep Active in Retirement

This aspect of volunteerism may not be in the front of your mind – especially if you’re in the beginning or middle of your career. But volunteering after retirement is an excellent way for medical professionals to continue to contribute without being locked-in to 40+ hours of work each week. It’s also a great way to stay productive and alert beyond your full-time working years.

List of not for profits seeking retired volunteers (not just medical, but many are)

Work With Your Spouse

Who’d have thought you can have it all like this? Assuming working with your spouse won’t drive one or more of you crazy, some organizations allow and even encourage couples to volunteer together.

Learn

Some of the most transformative experiences in your career may happen while volunteering your time. Think of it as a professional development workshop for you that helps improves other peoples lives as well…

Pediatricians reap rewards when training medical professionals in developing countries: ‘I learned more than I taught” quote from volunteer – from American Academy of Pediatricians

“I learned so much during my month in Bolivia: important clinical and language skills that will be essential to my career in the future” – quote from volunteer Danielle Yerdon, Pre-Med, Cornell University

Develop Cultural Competency
Experience another culture, understand it better, relate it to your own, and broaden your horizons.
http://www.hvousa.org/

“There are many outward differences such as food, life-style, and standard of living, but these felt unimportant compared with the rich opportunity to engage with the people.” HVO volunteer in India

Volunteering your services is a great way to see the world while doing a good turn. Such an experience can be both inspiring and horizon-broadening.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Winter 01.13.10 at 11:13 pm

If anyone needs any additional reason to volunteer, please consider those in need in Haiti right now.

The first reports are now emerging from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams who were already working on medical projects Haiti. They are treating hundreds of people injured in the quake and have been setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities.

http://doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=4148&cat=field-news

If you can’t help there on the ground, please consider donating to the cause to MSF or the organization of your choice.

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Chris Kuehnel 01.13.10 at 11:30 pm

Experienced 3rd world back country traveler, computer professional, logistics experience, construction manager, heavy equipment operator, people oriented hands on small business owner can do in country volunteeer (or paid?) work as needed. Please contact me if you can use my assistance in Haiti in any of the areas mentioned. 920.693.3141

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Ryan Winter 01.14.10 at 10:40 pm

Chris, it’s wonderful that you want to help. We’re not directly leading any efforts in Haiti – please DWB/MSF link above. If you can’t make it in person please consider donating a few dollars to a trusted organization such as the Red Cross or any of the links above.

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MAHAVIR 07.05.10 at 4:22 pm

Hi Ryan!
Gr8 post !
I’m an Urologist from India.
I’ve just started practice and wish to volunteer for endourology work all over.
But I can’t afford to bear my travel expense just yet.
Could you suggest some organisation which can assist bearing that in mind.
Thanks

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Ryan Winter 07.06.10 at 8:43 am

Mahavir,

I would directly contact the organizations listed in this post. They may be able to advise you. Good luck with your volunteer efforts!

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Bishal Paudel 08.27.10 at 1:39 pm

MOVE Nepal (Master organization of Volunteers for Experience)- Voluntary work in Nepal.

MOVE Nepal is a non-government organization (NGO), whose mission is to provide volunteers with a customized program that will enable them to make an important contribution to the people of Nepal
Our mission is to create a global understanding by encouraging volunteers to assist with our community development and youth mobilization programs. Since its inception, MOVE Nepal has placed over 100 volunteers from various countries in villages throughout Nepal and has developed a wide variety of successful programs addressing environmental and development issues. Many volunteers enjoy their experience so much that they return or extend their placement.
Volunteers visiting Nepal come for different reasons, but are united by their outgoing personality, friendly and easy going nature, their adventurous spirit and most importantly, their desire to make a difference. After completing a training session in Kathmandu, volunteers move to various placements all over Nepal, where they stay with a traditional host family.

MOVE Nepal- Voluntary work in Nepal
POB-23889
Paknajol-16,Thamel,Kathmandu,Nepal
Website- http://www.movenepal.org
Email- info@movenepal.org and movenepal@gmail.com

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Jade Brunet 07.15.16 at 11:41 am

My sister is a nurse and she loves finding opportunities to use her career even outside of her work hours. I think it is a great idea for medical professionals to volunteer. People are so amazing and getting to know them is a treat. I will inform my sister that by serving outside of work, she will have the opportunity to help many others with her knowledge and kindness.

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