Many of our volunteers, upon completion of an assignment, report that their experience reminded them of why they wanted to work in health care. Many report that the opportunities provided to volunteers allowed them to spend more time with patients and refresh their diagnostic skills.
What if these opportunities occurred as you were embarking on your career? Would it change the direction of your interest? Would it increase confidence in your skills and make you more aware of cross-cultural issues in your home environment? These are all comments HVO has received from so many volunteers over the years.
Encouraging physicians at the start of their careers not only develops their skills but brings an awareness of global health care that will challenge and enrich them for years to come. It has been demonstrated that such an experience early in a career fosters an interest in continuing to volunteer, both at home and abroad.
For this reason, HVO - with the support of some association partners and individual donors - offers a number of fellowships for senior residents. Successful fellowship applicants travel to established HVO project sites with an attending from their own residency program or a suitable preceptor to teach and train students and mentor junior residents in their specialty area. In the past, HVO has offered fellowships in anesthesia, orthopaedics and hand surgery, and, currently, applications for fellowships in orthopaedics and hand surgery are being accepted (please visit the HVO website for details).
Returning residents often note that the fellowships gave them the opportunity to provide more intensive basic training to medical students and residents at the site, whose education would often not be as thorough since many hospitals are short-staffed. Dr. Sarah Beth Nossov, a resident who volunteered with HVO in Malawi, remarked:
Sometimes it seemed like the smallest contributions were most important, like technique pearls. For example: there were a lot of plaster shortages in many district hospitals, so one hospital would not do any skeletal traction as they would typically dangle the weight off a plaster loop that connected to the ends of the traction pin. I drew out designs of a metal substitute they could have fabricated in the village and re-used.
The flexibility and ingenuity she shared is something that will benefit the project site and will serve her well in her career, wherever it takes her. If you know of a qualified resident who is ready for such a challenge and opportunity, please encourage them to apply
! Or if you're interested in contributing to a fellowship fund, please contact us
Nancy A. Kelly, MHS