The field of medicine is complex, but the choice to volunteer on a medical program is simple. Medical volunteering programs abroad are designed to help communities strengthen their general health practices as well as their hospital and clinic staff. GoEco offers a variety of medical volunteering opportunities around the globe, with opportunities to promote health education and shadow surgeons in Asia, lead HIV discussion groups and assist with newborns in Africa. Each project has its own minimum requirements, and while some do require prior medical experience and medical degrees, there are also programs, mostly those that focus on public health, that are open to those with no professional experience. For those who wish to gain international internship experience to propel their career, GoEco offers many programs that can be used for internship and course credit. All who wish to lend a hand in a medical community abroad have the opportunity to do so here! The Benefits of Being a Medical Volunteer Abroad In addition to jump-starting your career, being a medical volunteer abroad enables you to learn about an unfamiliar health care system, to experience a new place, to grow as a medical professional and to help those who are in need of immediate care. Your impact on these communities, and on the individuals, is paramount. Traveling in a country only allows you to gain a certain amount of cultural exposure. Volunteering and working in a new country throws you into the local communities’ world. Volunteering abroad in a medical setting is an ideal way to engage in cultural exchange while giving back; you can get to know the culture as you get to know your patients. Once you have exposure to the medical system of a foreign country, you can go home with the confidence to better relate to future international patients you may treat. Categories of Medical Volunteering Medical volunteering programs can be divided into two main categories: health promotion programs and practical programs. Health promotion programs are designed to spread awareness and knowledge of public health issues, with the goal of educating local communities and preventing widespread disease. Practical programs involve more hands-on tasks and generally involve shadowing medical professionals in hospitals or local clinics; these volunteers are assisting those who are already in need of care versus preventative medicine. Most practical programs require a medical certificate, degree or relevant prior experience. Health Promotion Programs: There are several options available for volunteers who wish to join a medical program directed more towards helping the community through education of sanitation practices and health promotion. These programs are especially suitable for volunteers without medical degrees, as they focus on prevention of disease rather than the curing of disease, which is an equally important a task. The two most popular health promotion programs are the Rural Healthcare and HIV/AIDS Awareness program in South Africa and the Community Health Education Project in Cambodia. Tasks in the AIDS Awareness program include creating educational materials and prevention methods, facilitating discussions in a support group, initiating home visits and partaking in related activities. As part of the Cambodia Community Health Education Project, volunteers will introduce local school children to standard hygiene methods used to prevent the spread of disease and to care for the body as a whole. Volunteer tasks may include demonstrating hand-washing, demonstrating teeth brushing and leading discussions on topics such as sexually transmitted diseases. Practical Programs: For medical students and professionals who are looking to gain course credit, advance their careers or simply utilize their skills to help a community in need, one of GoEco’s practical programs are the perfect fit. Most volunteers will shadow medical staff and professionals, but those who are qualified may partake in more hands-on tasks. Many of these programs, such as the Delhi Medical Internship in India, allow volunteers to select their preferred department in which to work. The departments range from emergency and critical care to slower-paced dialysis and physiotherapy placements. The Medical Placement in Ho Chi Minh may allow for more than shadowing and volunteers may have the opportunity to monitor patients and measure blood pressure. The Medical Aid in Antelope Park program in Zimbabwe has allowed volunteers to help with tasks in the maternity ward,such as weighing the newborns. Each medical program GoEco offers is different, and tasks oftentimes depend on the accreditation and level of prior experience a volunteer has. Locations Every continent and every country has specific healthcare needs. The needs of programs in Africa, Asia and South America are explored below: Africa: African countries are common destinations for medical initiatives, both practical and promotional. This is due largely to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS across the continent. The high rate of infection reflects how widespread this deadly disease is. All of our African medical volunteering opportunities involve some form of HIV awareness and educational tasks. By volunteering on the HIV/AIDS Awareness project in South Africa, volunteers can help lower the incidence rate (the rate of new cases) by educating young children how this disease is spread and teaching prevention methods. This in turn reduces the overall existence of the disease. Malawi’s lack of access to primary care unfortunately promotes community-wide disease outbreaks. Our Medical and Health Care Support program raises awareness through education of Malawi’s two most serious health concerns, HIV and malaria. Qualified volunteers may be able to offer practical assistance in a rural clinic. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, volunteers who are qualified may work alongside doctors and nurses in clinics. Volunteers can also choose to be involved in the promotion of HIV education at both the Livingstone Healthcare and Medical Aid projects. Asia: With three programs in India, two in Cambodia, two in Vietnam and one in Indonesia, GoEco offers medical volunteers the opportunity to travel and explore the varying health care systems of Asia. Within Cambodia alone, one has the opportunity to explore both one practical program and one health promotion program! Booking these programs back-to-back is sure to provide you with a well-rounded medical volunteer experience. South America: Medical volunteering in South America is extremely valuable for those who wish to further their career and expand their relevant skill set, all while improving their Spanish skills. Our Antigua Medical Internship in Guatemala requires an intermediate level of Spanish, and learning medical terminology in this widely spoken language can help you find higher-ranking hospital jobs worldwide; the knowledge of additional languages is always extremely beneficial in the healthcare field. Volunteering on a medical project has many benefits, and the help you can provide to another community as a medical volunteer is priceless. Read more about volunteering here.