VAW – Medical Outreach provides volunteers with an opportunity to work first hand with experienced local doctors. Volunteers will fund raise for medications and supplies prior to the trip abroad. While in country, volunteers will assist the doctors, perform triage, distribute medications, teach classes on hygiene, nutrition, and first aid. All volunteer activities are under the direct supervision of a licensed Physician. This is an intensive internship, valuable to future nurses, future physicians and other future healthcare providers as well as those interested in seeing what it is like to work in a developing country. The internship is focused on giving volunteers a variety of experiences, deepening their understanding of the medical field, and broadening their global view.
This internship is designed to give volunteers an experience as close to being a practicing physician as is possible before going to medical school, while ensuring the safety of and ethical treatment of patients, by having all aspects of the work directed by licensed physicians. You will spend every clinic day doing one of the following activities:
Shadowing a Doctor
Volunteers sit right next to the doctor and listen as he or she meets with patients, diagnoses conditions and prescribes treatment. Volunteers will have countless opportunities to ask questions and learn as much as they would like. Volunteers may even learn a few skills like how to differentiate between the heartbeat of an unborn fetus and the mother with a stethoscope, or how to treat an open wound.
Measure Vital Statistics
Learn how to take blood pressure readings, analyze blood sugar levels, take height and weight measurements, and temperature readings. Volunteers will learn these skills and then apply them, under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse.
Volunteers meet patients as they come into clinic, take their personal and medical history and record their current symptoms. They record all of the information for the doctor’s review.
Manage the Pharmacy
Once the doctors have prescribed medications, volunteers count out the prescriptions, under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. The pharmacist then gives the medications to the patient and explains to the patient how the medication should be taken. Note: All medications are purchased in the country where the clinics are being conducted to ensure strict conformity with the guidelines of the World Health Organization which require that medications are based on local formularies and in local languages.
Local Medical Exposure
Some countries offer volunteers the opportunity to shadow a doctor at their local clinic or hospital, attend a medical class at a local university or visit the local elderly home.
Teams will travel to a local school and teach children the importance of hygiene, dental health, hand washing, nutrition or another subject the team decides to teach. Ideally teams will bring something to distribute to the children such as toothbrushes or bars of soap.
VAW Medical Outreach trips are 14 days long. All teams will have five or six Medical Work Days and one Education Day, as well as three to four days to explore the beauty and local culture of their host country. Each country varies slightly in how the schedule is arranged and what opportunities are available.
All volunteer housing, food, staff and in country work transportation is included in the program fees. Volunteers pay for their plane tickets, spending money and fun travel.
Volunteers Around the World constantly strives to provide the best quality patient care for our communities and the best professional development opportunities for our volunteers. We follow the guidelines outlined by top organizations, such as the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Please feel free to read through the guidelines AAMC has established for pre-medical students here or visit their website directly here.