Building a Career in Medicine
Nursing, midwifery, paediatrics, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatric, dentistry, neurological or genetics. Whatever the area of interest, a placement abroad is often the best opportunity for aspiring medics to ‘test-drive’ their potential occupation and gain valuable skills, experience and friends in the process.
At a time of fierce competition for university places, anything that can demonstrate a clear commitment to obtaining experience in the field is incredibly valuable.
Impossible in UK
Gaining this crucial work experience in the UK is nearly impossible for those under 18 or without any training in the area. This makes it hugely difficult to decide if medicine is definitely the career of choice before taking the plunge. In contrast, the demand is high in community-based organisations abroad for ambitious, dedicated and caring healers. A small amount of training and a can-do attitude can be enough to get a challenge-hungry volunteer started in providing hands on medical care for people in a way that would never be possible in the UK.
For those already in medical training a placement allows them to diversify their experience and offer life changing skills. Volunteering abroad doesn’t have to mean manufactured experiences, a grossly inflated programme fee and strict schedule to act as an elaborate holiday to boost the CV – this is very much the negative angle that some (but definitely not all) have become. With the right programme volunteering abroad can actually be a hugely beneficial and positive experience for both the medical volunteer and the organisation.
18-year-old Emily went to Tanzania last year to volunteer in struggling community health centres. She plans on pursuing a career in midwifery and found her placement to be invaluable preparation for that:
“I volunteered in hospitals and health care centres in Morogoro Tanzania. Myself and other students were there to help the doctors and nurses and to gain more knowledge from the procedures they were showing us and letting us help with. From my mentor showing me how to give birth I ended up assisting 11 births in one week!
I decided to do it because all I wanted to do was help others in a less fortunate country and give them the help they needed whilst also contributing to the funds of the hospital.
I have been able to put the experience on my CV and my personal statement for University. I have spoken to lecturers at open days and they are so impressed with the experience that I’ve had at a young age.
I think everyone should experience volunteering abroad because not only do you gain knowledge and get hands on experience, the help you’re giving to the local doctors and nurses is so appreciated. They were so grateful of all my help and I think volunteers really do help to improve health care in places like Morogoro, Tanzania. ”
Interested in taking part in medical volunteering abroad? Join our Ghana Project.
Guest Blog by Rebecca Lawes. Read more of her wonderful work here.