International Volunteering...

Hi…someone here was asking about foreign volunteering opportunities and how to find them. I don’t remember who that was, but it’s an intriguing possibility to go somewhere “to do good”.
So I’m thumbing through a magazine at my dentist’s earlier this week; found a relevant mag article (i.e. Better Homes & Gardens, Dec. 2002, pages 122-126, if you want to check it out).
Sources listed at the end of the article:
1. CHOICE Humanitarian (801-474-1277)
7879 South 1530 West, Suite 200
West Jordan, Utah 84088
2. (says it contains links to hundreds of non-profits)
3. (says “Hiefer International explores solutions to hunger”) Their # 800-422-0474
4. (says “a great search site for volunteer opportunities overseas”)
There’s always the Peace Corps., but that’s a long commitment
…the family featured in the BH&G article went to Bolivia for a few weeks, (not years)! The whole family went…(something Ted & I have talked about possibly doing when our sons are a little older).
For anyone who already has medical training/licensure (of some sort), there’s “Doctors without Borders” and other like groups. Hope that helps!

So I'm thumbing through a magazine at my dentist's earlier this week; found a relevant mag article (i.e. Better Homes & Gardens, Dec. 2002, pages 122-126, if you want to check it out).

Wow, your dentist has recent magazines!?

I have spoken with some people from Doctors without borders and the general impression that I get from them is that unless you are a fairly experienced specialist (surgeon, pediatrician, internal med) or GP, you are encouraged to apply but don’t hould your breath.
RNs, NPs, PAs are also needed, especially if they have experience in family/geneal/underserved pop’n care.
Note that on the website students are asked NOT to apply smile.gif
However, I was speaking with a friend who said he has found other, similar, organizations that send volunteers into 3rd world countries to do the same type of work. I cannot racall any of the names of those orgs, but you could probably track them down on the web…

The UN Volunteers ( has short term assignments.

I found some other places to look for international opportunities:
I am going to talk to someone at the WHO this week or next and will have some more ideas, if anyone is interested.

I’d definitely be interested.
I’m hoping to get some overseas experience during breaks and part of the glide year by hooking up with some profs at the SOM and SPH that are doing research abroad. I figure if I go in there, badger them, and offer to write up a buttload of papers to submit for publication, someone will eventually take me up on it. tongue.gif
But I’d be interested in knowing what your contacts have to say.
Have you checked out the AMSA overseas rotations and the AMWA international reproductive health opportunities?
There are many different opportunities listed here, from pay to go programs to fellowships (RWJ has a bunch, too).
Keep me posted! I’ll be pursuing these types of opportunities soon enough myself.

I had NOT looked into that (or even thought to) … THANKS.
I work at a UN office and the WHO has an office down the hall. I have been helping a woman down there with her computer and we are going to talk a bit more about other opportunities. She did mention the following NGOs (non governmental organizations)
Save the Children (I have emailed my contact there) Oxfam, Action Aid, Bread for the World…
There are some others and I can post them here when I am less brain dead than I am right now. Had a bio exam this morning and despite having known all the material covered in class a few questions got me. I hate this waiting!

I just remembered I have a folder of bookmarks that I’ve collected while researching this. tongue.gif
General info + specific country programs:
RWJ list of international programs (some grants and fellowships listed here):…ganizedlist.htm
Pre-med paid/unpaid internships (few international, but totally comprehensive!):
General “how to” on getting involved in international medical experiences:…00/started.html
International Medical Volunteers Association:
IMVA’s link to volunteer orgs and their profiles:
The IHMEC Guidebook: Advising Medical Students and Residents for International Health Experiences
There is a TON of information out there, but these were the sites that I found most useful.
I will DEFINITELY be asking the post-bacc people I interview with if they have any experience hooking people up with overseas work…I’ll let you know if I get some new info.

Thank you! You rock!

Regarding international volunteering, is there an advantage to doing it, or is this a personal goal? Just curious

On the one hand, there is no advantage to doing things which are not a personal interest.
On the other hand, there are both cynical and less-cynical advantages to doing international volunteering. (I actually haven't done it yet, but I'm about to try to do it myself, and these are reasons I've thought of myself or heard from others.)
The cynical: it proves that you're a dedicated badass who goes where others don't to pursue your interests in medicine and health. It's big with admissions committees for that reason.
The less-cynical (and therefore more important):
1. It gives you exposure to health systems and health issues that are different than those in the US–and therefore helps you get perspective on issues in the US as well as those abroad.
2. It allows you to see clinical situations which are less common in the US. For instance, unless you understand how and why children die of diarrhea, you do not really understand the true impact of world events. (For instance, the health impact on Iraqis of bullets and bombs may turn out to be significantly smaller than the health impact of disrupted water supplies, which you might not realize if you stayed in the US.) And since diarrheal illness is the number one killer of children in the world, this might be worth seeing for yourself. This is just to take one example among many. (The impact of malaria might be another; refugee health another–the list is very very long.)
3. It may inspire you: you can meet incredible people who are fighting the good fight in any of a number of different ways, often with many fewer resources at their disposal than the privileged US private practice doctors who are constantly telling oldpremeds that medicine sucks and they shouldn't bother going into it.
4. It broadens your world beyond that of the US. We are not just citizens of our nation, we are also members of the human species; and many health issues that can be of concern to physicians extend beyond our borders. For instance, some of my classmates are working on the connections between environmental change and medicine; one such connection is the prospect that global warming may change the latitude at which malaria-carrying mosquitoes may survive and thrive. Understanding malaria–because you've seen it–may help you understand global issues differently.
5. Depending on the country, it may help you see how the US system could be improved–for instance, if you go to a country with universal access to care, you could begin to understand the difference between that system and our own.
6. It's an adventure.
7. You can learn a lot from people who are thinking about things in a different way than you are, because they've grown up somewhere else and are facing different conditions. You will grow and change as a result.
8. On a spiritual/political level, it is just inherently a good thing to experience connection to and communion with people outside your immediate circles and experiences.
–joe (after just putting in a proposal to go to South Africa this summer)