Oh, Mexico… my favourite country on earth – you never cease to impress me upon each visit. I just can’t seem to stay away!
If I’m being honest, I was nervous to attend this project in Guadalajara due to Mexico’s dangerous reputation, despite visiting the paradise beaches of the east coast previously. However, upon arrival I immediately felt comfortable in what is known as the second largest city in Mexico. I was lucky enough to be placed in Gloria’s house with her lovely family throughout my stay. We were located 100 meters away from the Expiatorio – a stunning cathedral and square that was always buzzing each night with local food markets, salsa-dancing lessons and live music. Oh, and the two rooftop bars next door became our local nightcap destinations after a long day of work!
Gloria became known as our Mexican Mumma. She cooked us amazing local food, she told us to be careful every time we went out, she became nervous when we came home later than expected, she bought us tea into bed when we weren’t feeling well, and she even held my hair back when I was vomiting from too much tequila… while also shaking her head!
My first week was spent in the Cruz Verde Emergency Department, which turned out to be an endless flow of patients in and out, mostly with traumatic injuries. Most of these were sustained from workplace accidents, motor vehicle crashes and assaults. On my first day I was able to assist in the management and treatment of my first ever gun shot wounds. I was blown away to see the patient hobble out of the ED within 3 hours of arrival after being shot through his knee and groin while continuing to bleed out!
The most shocking injuries I saw were from patients held hostage and tortured by drug cartels gangs. I was told that this is really common, even beheadings, however it only happens to victims that are members of opposing cartels and they consequently know the risks when getting involved in the first place! Life lesson – as everyone will know from Narcos – don’t sell drugs in Mexico!
I was also lucky enough to witness an orthopedic surgery of an ankle reconstruction following a severe break which was really interesting to see – I had to keep reminding myself I was in a hospital and not a building site after seeing the equipment they were using!
I also learnt skills such as how to properly irrigate, clean and suture wounds as deep as the muscle, insert nasogastric tubes and suction appropriately, and apply casts for broken bones.
The following 2 weeks I spent on the ambulance with both the Cruz Verde and Cruz Roja. Patient assessment on scene was very difficult only knowing basic Spanish. The paramedics spoke very minimal English while the patients no doubt do not speak it either! Therefore, my assessment became more practical – I would take blood pressures, heart rates, temperatures, oxygen saturations, control haemorrhage, insert intravenous cannulas and hang fluids… leaving the Spanish questioning to the paramedics! You never knew what job you were attending because the paramedics were unable to say so in English, which added excitement and nerves to the crazy experience. I also completed my first ever night shifts, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do so in Australia; I would recommend doing night shifts on the weekend, as they were busy and fun!
On our days off, we were able to explore the area in which we were living. Throughout my time in Guadalajara, I visited Chapala which is home to Mexico’s largest fresh water lake which was beautiful, we drank endless amounts of tequila in the town where tequila is made (I thought I had died and gone to heaven) and we also climbed La Barranca de Huentitan canyon which had stunning views. Nights out on the town with the other volunteers from around the world as well as the local paramedics always turned out to be a good laugh.
GMP staff such as Luis, Zuhey, Kevin and Ariel provided endless support and were just a phone call away if we ever needed anything… so thank you guys!
Overall, I had an unbelievable experience as a result of my placement in Guadalajara. I was exposed to so much trauma that I feel will benefit my future practice as a paramedic and nurse tremendously in terms of physical management and emotional response. I’m slightly disappointed to go back to being on an Australian ambulance, as it is unlikely that it will be as exciting as the situations I witnessed in Mexico! I will miss the tacos, the people and the mariachi music until I come to return once more!
So if you are a paramedic or nursing student thinking about doing this placement in Guadalajara, pack your bags and get on that plane… you won’t regret it!
Great report Bethanie! If you are interested in following in Bethanie’s footsteps and joining this type of project in Mexico, find out more here: Paramedic project in Mexico
Richard Ford is a physiotherapy student at the University of Salford. He joined our project in Mexico volunteering to work with disabled children.
I spent 5 weeks at Hogares de la Caridad in Guadalajara, Mexico. This was my first time volunteering, being in Mexico and working with children.
The children at this orphanage have cerebral palsy and some also have autism. Parts of Mexico receive very little funding for those who have been abandoned due to their disability. Physiotherapy is vitally important for these children and it is because they had received so little treatment for their condition in the past that some of them are now left with debilitating conditions.
I saw how cerebral palsy and this lack of treatment affects children, treating a mixture of patients. I had to quickly learn the importance of using non-verbal communication skills because many of the children couldn’t understand English and some could not communicate at all. One of the children I treated was four years old and was unable to talk, walk or feed himself.
I also worked with a child who hated physiotherapy treatment and who would scream anytime someone touched him. He was blind and had a cephalic disorder. Sometimes, a balance would have to be made between giving him vital physiotherapy treatment and leaving him be. Occasionally, we had to persist with his therapy, stretching his muscles and massaging him even though he was crying.
The main treatments I used were massage, stretches, gait education, and proprioceptive exercises but it was not all about physiotherapy. I also helped with the day-to-day care of the children. This included spending time with the children and helping with feeding them at lunchtimes.
For part of my time in Mexico, I travelled to Peurto Vallarta to volunteer at a day care centre for children called Pasitos de Luz. These children had a range of disabilities caused by various diseases which meant that they were all in need of physiotherapy. This clinic had quite basic and limited facilities so I had to come up with different ways in which to provide forms of treatment for the children, for instance gently rubbing grains of rice against their legs and arms to act as a proprioceptive feedback mechanism to regain balance and sensation. In addition to the treatment, the children were just happy to see some new faces and play lots of games.
The trip gave me a real insight into physiotherapy and the treatment of disabilities in Mexico. One of the key lessons I learnt was how important is was to work with the whole team at the orphanage including the nurses, doctors, managers, other volunteers and physiotherapists to provide holistic care for the children.
You have decided where to go and have booked your place on one of our medical projects, now the nerves really start to kick in! On the one hand you’re excited for the adventure of a lifetime, travelling to a destination you’ve never visited before, and meeting new friends. However, the prospect of visiting a new country, experiencing a different culture and local language will fill most people with understandable trepidation.
If you’re stuck in the midst of a planning nightmare or slightly nervous about the trip ahead, then keep reading for our guide on the things you should be prepping for your volunteer adventure. We’ll take you through the important documents and vaccinations you need, how to keep home sickness at bay and learning about the local area you’re visiting.
Remember Important Documents
As people join us from all over the world, we can’t include flights. Additionally, many volunteers join our placements as part of a wider round the world trip so it’s much easier for you to arrange your travel arrangements around your prior plans. Don’t worry though, we’ll give you help and advice on all the preparations and what flights to book. Once you have confirmed your flights, let us know the details and one of our friendly members of staff will come and meet you on arrival at the airport.
You’ll also need to remember to organise your travel insurance for the trip. It can be tempting to book the cheapest insurance available, but make sure you read the policies clearly as you want to ensure that you are fully covered for your whole trip, this includes; baggage, cancellation, medical and transport claims.
Many of the destinations also require you to have a visa which you will need to organise. Without a visa you won’t be able to enter the country you wish to visit, so it’s always advisable to organise this well in advance of your scheduled departure date.
The majority of medical volunteer opportunities are based in countries where medical and sanitation conditions are not as good as at home, as such it’s more than likely that you will require vaccinations for your trip. You can find out which vaccinations are free and which are to be paid for on the NHS website. It’s worth remembering that most vaccinations need to be given around 8 weeks before your travel date to ensure you can receive the full course.
As well as your vaccinations, you’ll also need to ensure that you’ve got a first aid kit and any other medical supplies you might need for your trip. Include things such as; plasters, painkillers, sterile dressings, antihistamines, insect repellent, rehydration solutions and bandage tape in your kit.
Packing Your Bags
Packing your bags is the exciting part as it means your trip is just around the corner. You will need to make sure that you have the right clothing and anything else you need for your medical placement with you. Remember to pack for weekend trips and clothes appropriate to the hospital. We’ll give you a kit list of the key items to take in your pre-departure information.
Read more about our handy hints to what to pack here>>.
Check the Local Area
As you’ll be travelling to a completely new part of the world, it’s essential you do as much research as possible before you begin your trip. Our team will be able to advise you on what you can expect, but it’s also worth chatting to people who’ve completed volunteering there previously. A previous student will be able to tell you all about how they felt before the placement, what to expect throughout the trip and help advise you on anything you simply must take with you.
The local culture will be extremely different to what you are used to. Embrace local traditions and customs on your trip with an open mind and sense of humour. Try learning the basics of the local language too. Basic phrases such as; ‘hello’, ‘how are you’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way in helping to integrate you into the country.
Overcoming Home Sickness
Being so far away from home and what you are used to can be a shock, so try to beat the homesickness before it arrives at your door. Taking lots of photos with you, whether they are printed or on your phone, can be a great comfort when you’re missing home.
If you’re feeling lonely then the worst thing you can do is yourself isolate further, so talk to those who are also on placement and keep yourself busy. The internet may not always be readily available in poorer countries, but there are often a few internet cafes so you can easily Skype back home.
In some cases the internet can make homesickness worse too, so avoid overdosing on facebook when overseas or you may miss out on exciting trips or meeting new people.
Plan for Downtime
Your days will be full on but there will still be time for lots of fun in between your day to day placement duties. It’s important to make the most of your time wherever you travel, so making a list before you go of the sights you want to see can help you make the most of any down time you have. A guidebook is essential reading before you go and will help with planning weekend trips.
It can also be a good idea to pack a few items to keep you entertained once your day to day duties have been completed. A couple of books or your iPad with some downloaded apps on can help to kill time when you have a spare few hours.
How much money you require for your trip will completely depend on the destination you are visiting and the duration of your stay. We’ll give you an idea of how much to take but it’s always a good idea to take a little extra for must have souvenirs or activities.
Many areas now accept card, but it can be advisable to notify your bank before you travel to avoid them blocking your card due to different spending habits.
These are just some of the things you’ll want to prepare before you begin your adventure, so keep these in mind before you embark on your medical placement. We are on hand both before you travel and while you are overseas so never be afraid to ask, even if you think it’s a stupid question. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!
Whether you’re booking a holiday abroad, the travelling adventure of a lifetime or embarking on a medical volunteer placement in a less developed area, the next thought often isn’t about how to stay safe abroad. You’re more likely thinking of the fun you’ll have and the memories you are set to make.
But safety should be your number one priority no matter where you are travelling or your reasons for going. There’s certainly a lot to consider both before and whilst you’re abroad, so take a look at our guide and make safety the top of your agenda.
Do Your Research
Once you have decided where to go, the next thing to do is to check the safety and security locally. You can find out the essential information on government websites. The UK Foreign Office, US State Department, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and most government foreign services will provide you with travel briefings. They will tell you if you should avoid travelling to a country and about the current political stability and safety issues.
Do be aware that they are obliged to tell the story warts and all. Be reassured by phrases like ‘Most visits are trouble free…” and take heed of some warnings like “We advise against all but essential travel”!
Don’t Show and Tell
When you’re exploring it’s more than likely that you’ll want to use the map app on your smartphone or snapping away on your fancy camera. But try you absolute hardest to keep this to a minimum as you’re effectively making yourself a walking advert for a gadget shop.
Keep valuable items in a secure backpack or bag and where possible try to wear it so that the opening faces inwards to you rather than outwards, thus making it harder for anyone to get into it.
Hide your money
If you’re going to a much less privileged country or neighbourhood then don’t flash the cash. It’s likely you’ll stand out from the crowd as it is, but try to blend in as much as possible to avoid becoming the target.
Don’t change all your money at once and keep cards and excess cash secure. If you do have large amounts of cash on you, divide it up and keep it in various pockets so you are not bringing out a massive wad of cash when paying for a bus ticket or bottle of water!
Money belts are useful but in hot and sweaty countries are uncomfortable to wear everyday.
Scan Important Documents
You’re going to need a fair few important documents whilst you’re abroad – especially if you’re volunteering – and whilst you may try to keep them as safe as possible, sometimes things sadly get misplaced or lost forevermore.
Some countries require you to carry identification documents at all times. Scan copies of important documents such as your passport and visa, and email yourself essential paperwork you need throughout your stay. It’s always a good idea to have a backup, as even the safest of hands can still lose items. And remember to keep your accommodation details on you too if you’re prone to a bout of forgetfulness.
Be Wary of Using Personal Details
You won’t always be able to find wifi so you’ll often need to use internet cafés. You may have made friends with the owner and trust them, but if you don’t have to then avoid typing in your personal or bank details in online. Always look for the ‘Secure Visa’ mark if you do have to. Most browsers have an incognito or private option which prevents passwords typed into banking or facebook apps being stored on the computer.
Be cautious about handing over your passport number or personal details when you’re in a face to face environment too. That’s not to say that everyone is out to get you. Far from it. But you don’t want critical personal information to fall into the wrong hands, especially abroad when you aren’t used to the rules and regulations.
Whatever you do, don’t travel without making sure you have a fully compressive insurance package in place for your trip. You can do all the forward planning in the world and things can still go wrong, so make sure you have the right protection in place.
A good insurance policy will protect you when luggage goes missing, cancellations, delays, emergency assistance and medical cover. Plus, it’s so simple to sort out and isn’t a costly expense at all when compared to the costs you could face if you fail to invest.
Find a Trusted Friend
You may be tempted to want to explore on your own and feel the freedom that exploring a new country on your own brings but don’t put your safety at risk. Try to travel with a trusted friend, and always travel in a group or at the very least in pairs.
Always let someone know in the group or back at home where you are going. If you do go out on your own, then try to walk near another group of people to avoid standing out as a single person.
The Roads and Public Transport
Vehicle maintenance, road conditions and the standard of driving overseas are very different to home. Therefore, the biggest risk to your personal safety is travelling on the roads.
When using public transport, choose the safest looking bus or taxi. The vehicle is unlikely to be as well maintained as home but if it looks fundamentally unsafe avoid it – there will be plenty of opportunity to use another vehicle. The same goes for the driver. If he looks drunk, exhausted or just untrustworthy, move on.
Avoid using buses at night. If travelling home after a night out on the town, use a taxi.
Crossing the road can be an adventure in itself. If crossings exist it’s unlikely that drivers will pay any attention to it. Take extra caution when crossing the roads and look both ways. The traffic is probably coming from a different direction to what you’re used to!
Get a Health Check Up
Your health is your wealth so don’t put it at risk by forgoing a health check-up before you depart on your travels. If you’re travelling to far flung destinations then it’s more than likely you’ll need vaccinations for your trip. You should allow around 3 months before your travel date in order to make sure you have enough time to receive the course of injections.
However, you should still keep in mind regular hygiene routines are vaccinations are never 100% effective. Keep a hand sanitiser on you at all times and don’t drink the local water either if you don’t have too.
Get your teeth checked out too. The last thing you need is a dental issue miles away from good dental care!
You’ve booked your placement, your travel dates have been set, and you’re all ready to go – apart from packing your case. But what do you take on your volunteering adventure? Volunteering abroad is no holiday – far from it – so you’ll need a whole different set of clothes and equipment compared to what you’d usually pack for a holiday abroad.
You are unlikely to have volunteered abroad before and whilst you can of course find out from others what to pack and get their advice, everyone is different and what you take compared to the next person will vary.
To help you decide what to pack for your travel odyssey we’ve put together a handy guide of all the essentials you don’t want to forget.
It can be tempting to want to pack everything but the kitchen sink in your biggest suitcase, but volunteering is not a luxury holiday where your bags are ferried around for you and you’ll probably be surprised at how little you can actually get by with.
A travelling rucksack is the most portable option to pack your volunteering wares in. It’s best to invest in one of the big name brands to make sure you’ve got something of a high quality to go away with. Packing squares are also great to separate out your clothing items by type and allow you to quickly find what you’re looking for rather than rummaging through a stuffed backpack.
Surprisingly, we don’t discourage you from taking a case either. If you have a permanent base such as a host family or volunteer accommodation, a lockable hard case can be a good place to store the clothing and work items you don’t need to carry when heading off exploring at weekends.
A day sack is also an essential item to take in combination with a large rucksack or case. You won’t need to take everything you’ve brought with you for weekend trips so a day sack can come in handy for transporting just the clothes you need for the beach or bazaar and all the must have souvenirs!
We will give you a comprehensive list of what you’ll need for the placement and much of what you need will both depend on the length of your placement and location. However, some items are common to all placements and these are some of the must-haves.
Sturdy and comfortable footwear – something with a good grip and cushioning
Rainproof or lightweight jacket – a foldaway mac will work best if you’re short on space
Jumper or hoodie
Lightweight tops which you can layer up – the weather is often unreliable so pack items which you can add or remove as necessary
Shorts, skirts or trousers depending on the weather
Underwear and socks
Something relatively formal just in case
Remember that some clothing that’s acceptable at home may not be in the culture in your host country so make sure you pack items that respect other customs and religions.
Things can get pretty weighty when it comes to all the toiletries you need for your trip, so make sure you keep an eye on your weight allowance before you buy heavy duty bottles of shower gels and shampoos. It’s also worth remembering that you can buy most toiletries in shops locally so bring small travel bottles and stock up on what you need when you arrive.
However, it’s worth noting that the brands and ingredients will be very different to what you’re used to. If you have sensitive skin or hair you might want to bring enough to last the whole trip. Feminine hygiene products in particular are often very different overseas so we’d recommend bringing enough to see you through.
Shampoo and conditioner
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Lip balm with SPF
Taking a mini first aid kit on any type of holiday is always advisable, and even more so when volunteering abroad. Try to pack this lightly as you’ll usually be able to buy extra medical supplies if you need too. Most first aid packs have slings, bandages and trauma items you are unlikely to ever need. Here are the essentials you’ll definitely need:
Antiseptic wipes and cream
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
Any extra medication you regularly take e.g. inhalers
There’s always going to be a few random items you’ll need to include in your rucksack that you don’t want to be without. Here’s a few other things you may need to include:
Camera (and plenty of memory)
Book / e reader / tablet
Travel towel – a microfibre one will dry quickly
Plastic bag to keep dirty clothes separate
Ear plugs and eye mask – you never know what sleeping conditions will be like
There are a few essential documents you need to take with you and keep safe. It’s worth picking up a small plastic envelope wallet to keep these safe in, that way you know exactly where everything is rather than stuffed in random pockets or your rucksack.
A photocopy of your passport photo page and visa
Emergency contact and accommodation details
Health and travel insurance documents
Pen (essential for filling in essential arrivals immigration paperwork)
Money – remember to check the local currency and take a debit or travel money card as back up
What NOT to Take
Tempting as it may be to take them, there are a few things you simply don’t need to take with you abroad. Try to keep your rucksack as light as possible and avoid over packing it with these items.
Brand new clothing or shoes – you may end up ruining items and you don’t want blisters either
Too many toiletries – you don’t need to volunteer in a full face of make-up or over pack on beauty items
Valuables – if you don’t want something to get damaged or lost then don’t bring them
Leaving for an adventure is an exciting time, but you don’t want to get too caught up that you end up missing out the essentials. Keep in mind our checklist and make a list before you begin to pack of everything you need.
Global Medical Projects offers the student on a distance education/blended learning course in pre-hospital emergency care, the opportunity to conduct practical learning in accordance with his/her course requirements.
The aim of this program is to accelerate practical learning. The mentored aspect provides teaching, guidance, support, evaluation and coordination to maximize time-effort and validation of clinical hours completed, allowing the student to complete his/her course in the shortest possible time without compromising standards.
Emergency Care Practicum Program overview:
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
12 weeks/750 hours, mentored ambulance and emergency room rotational clinical placements, suitable for students of:
Ronin SA (Remote Medical Technician course)
Level 5 diploma in FREUC (UK)
IHCD Ambulance Technician (UK)
5 weeks/375 hours, max 8 weeks mentored ambulance and emergency room placements rotational clinical placements, suitable for students of:
HLT51015 Diploma of Paramedical Science (Ambulance)(Aus)
EMT-Paramedic (International) (+ 1 week)
Industry Paramedic (International) (+ 1 week)
3 weeks/168 hours, max 4 weeks, mentored ambulance and emergency room rotational clinical
placements, suitable for students or holders of:
Level 3 and 4 certificate in FREC (UK)
HLT41115 Certificate IV in Health Care (Aus)
Ronin SA (Telemetric Medical Assistant course)
Pre university prospective paramedic students (International)
University paramedic students (International)
* Extensions to any course are available in weekly increments to the maximum stipulate attendance per course.
Verifiable mentored clinical placement hours in accordance with the individual student’s pathway of studies or requirements of their specific training organization.
logbooks verified by mentor and sanitized patient report forms available to the student to make his/her own copies.
The medical placements are quite diverse and can be tailored to your interests. As a third year Psychology student, Katie was primarily interested in psychology work experience.
I travelled to Kerala for 4 weeks with Global Medical Projects during the summer between my 3rd and 4th year of my Psychology with Human Health degree. I was really eager to obtain psychology related work experience, as it is difficult to do so in the UK. My sister had previously travelled to Beijing for a medical placement with Global Medical Projects and enjoyed herself so much that she was interested to do another placement with me. After speaking to Kevin, he was very encouraging that even though I was a psychologist there would still be an opportunity for me to gain experience.
Before I arrived in India, Babu the director who is based in Kerala had already received my CV and a list of departments that I was interested in gaining experience in. He contacted a psychiatrist and psychologist and organised all the initial arrangements for me. Once I started my placement, it was up to me to organise the rest of my placement. For three weeks, I spent my time shadowing in psychiatric wards in three different hospitals. My experience included shadowing psychiatrists during ward rounds for in-patients and consultations with out-patients. Further time was spent with the psychologist during counselling sessions. I also got the opportunity to watch Electro-Convulsive Therapy. For my last week, I organised to spend time shadowing on a Neurology ward during ward rounds and appointments or consultations. During my work experience I was very eager to watch brain surgery; however I was told this would be very difficult to organise. Nevertheless, I was surprised because all it took was for me to ask the surgeons myself and I was lucky enough to observe three operations, one brain and two spinal surgeries. So it is definitely worth asking if you are interested! It is your placement at the end of the day, so make sure you are happy and feel that you are getting the most out of the experience.
I made some great friends in the hospital and at the end of my stay myself and the other volunteers were invited to join the psychiatrist and psychologist and their families for dinner. This was a great experience and I was very grateful for everything they did for me during my stay. I was so happy with my overall work placement. I never expected to see as much as did, most of which I would not have been allowed to see in the UK due to still being a university student. Its great experience to fill out your CV with or talk about in an interview! My only concern when booking was how well English would be spoken in the hospitals, but I found that it was well spoken by the majority of people I shadowed. I felt the doctors took the time to translate and explain everything clearly to me; they made me feel very welcome. However, I would say that some staff were quite shy and lacked confidence when speaking in English in front of me.
During our time in Kerala, we made the most of our evenings and weekends with the other volunteers so I would recommend making the most of time away.
If you’re looking for amazing work experience abroad and want to make new friends and experience living in a completely different culture- then I would definitely recommend Global Medical Projects! I felt everything was very organised and Kevin was always reliable and very helpful when I had any questions.
Well done Katie! Katie’s feedback shows that we can often arrange placements in specific areas of medicine, or the subjects allied to medicine. If there’s an area of medicine you would like to experience, contact us to discuss your objectives further. If you would like to follow in Katie’s footsteps, read more about our our medical placements in India.
With many employers now looking to see what it is that makes you different from the numerous other job applications, volunteering can give your career prospects a boost.
From gaining practical hands-on experience to building professional relationships, volunteering goes beyond the realm of making us feel good inside to proving our worth when it comes to our careers.
To help you decide if a medical placement abroad is for you we’ve put together just how volunteering can help your career.
How many of us have started a job before we realised that it’s actually very different from how it looks on paper? Far more people probably come to that realisation than they would care to admit out loud. Volunteering can help to give you chance a to ‘try on’ a particular role, before you take it up full time.
A job role on paper can be vastly different to what you’ll end up doing on a day to day basis, and the reality is often very different to our expectations. A volunteering placement can help to give you chance to see what a role will really be like in reality or whether that particular working environment or organisation is right for you.
New and Improved Skillset
Each new job or role develops our skills. Volunteering in a new environment also helps us to apply our current skills in different ways. Whether it’s the new skills you learn, or old skills which are put into practice in different ways, both of these can help to boost job applications.
Working in a different country exposes you to processes that are a lot different to what you’ve previously been used to. A new environment can also help us to adapt our existing skillset or knowledge base and perhaps learn a better or different way of doing something we hadn’t thought of before. Diversity is what makes us unique, and adding volunteering to your CV can help to make your career stand out.
Many jobs these days are often about ‘who you know, not what you know’, and volunteering can help you to expand your network outside of your home country and across Europe, Asia and Africa, not to mention the connections you’ll make with those also on the trip.
You should never underestimate the value a network of likeminded professionals can bring to your career. Not only will you be able to learn vital skills and information from people you otherwise might not have met, you’ll hear about new job openings, and be able use those in charge of your placement as references on your CV.
Dedication to a Cause
Potential employers like to see dedication in job applications and there’s no better way to show that than through a volunteer placement. Volunteering can help to show that you’re willing to dedicate yourself and your time to a particular cause, which benefits someone other than yourself.
During your time on a placement you’ll be able to soak up every part of the working environment you’re in and immerse yourself in a culture which is often vastly different to what you’re used to. Volunteering tests what you know and pushes you to think outside the box, something which you often don’t get pushed to do once you’re in full time employment.
Builds your CV
Interviews are granted on what an A4 sheet of paper says about you, and with the job market as competitive as ever, you need to stand out from the crowd in order to get past the first round. Qualifications are important, not to mention essential, when it comes to gaining a job in the medical profession, but volunteering can also help to show how you’ve put your skills into action in the real world.
Many interviews are based on competency based questions, which means you’ll need to provide examples of when you’ve put a particular skill to use, or succeed at a particular situation. Volunteering can provide real world experience and give you the opportunity to draw on your experiences abroad.
New Cultures and Languages
Working in the medical sector you never know what kind of medical emergency or situation you’ll be presented with. Throw into the mix a new culture and language, and you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to think on your feet, overcome language barriers and be respectful to a new culture.
We live in an increasingly global world, where languages and cultures can blur into one, so learning from those abroad can help to improve your employment prospects greatly. Gaining an understanding outside of your comfort zone, and in a completely different environment can prove you’re willing to do something different in order to better your career.
Getting the Most from Your Medical Work Experience
Medical volunteer projects are a great way of gaining important healthcare work experience in a hospital setting, and often this is experience that you can’t get at home – but taking part in these placements overseas will help you take away more than just clinical experience.
Taking part on a volunteer placement abroad allows you to not only broaden your mind but also to develop other transferable skills that will be useful in your future career.
Improved Employment and Interview Prospects
Whether you’re studying or taking a gap from employment, volunteering is a great way to fill up your annual leave, summer holiday or gap year. Alongside the new knowledge, skills and cultures you gain, your employment prospects are also greatly improved too.
Spending time on a healthcare project overseas is interesting to the medical school interviewer or future employer. It shows them that you are someone who has taken part in a healthcare volunteer placement in a completely unique setting and that will make you stand out in their minds when reviewing candidates.
Volunteering can also help you to increase your network of contacts, expose you to different working practices and embrace a whole host of other skills, which will all look great on your CV when you apply for your next role. You will have the chance to develop skills, assist in areas that you haven’t previous been involved with and learn more about the treatment of illnesses rarely seen at home – all of which can be of value to your (future) employer and help boost your career progression.
One of the best things about travel is meeting new people from a background and culture very different to our own. As soon as we step foot off the plane we are fully immersed into another way of life which is completely different to what we know. Volunteering abroad allows you to not only meet new people and learn more about their culture, but to live their customs and way of life too.
Living in another country, even if it’s for a short period of time, can provide you with experiences that are truly once in a lifetime and that will stick with you forever.
Joining a medical volunteer project overseas will expose you to different languages and dialects. Even in countries where English is widely spoken, strong accents can make communicating more difficult.
For some, volunteering in a hospital abroad can be an opportunity to learn a new and interesting language. There is no better way to learn a new language than to be completely immersed into a community where this language is spoken.
For others, working in a healthcare setting where English is not the spoken language is a great opportunity to develop non-verbal communication skills. Non-verbal skills may come in handy when meeting a patient on a ward at home that doesn’t or can’t speak English.
Working in the medical sector you never know what challenges you’ll face, and adapting to different situations at a moment’s notice is a valuable skill.
Volunteering in a healthcare setting overseas is the ultimate expression of adaptability, as it shows that you can work in a hospital very different to home and with colleagues who have had training very different to your own.
Handling Conflicting Opinions
We are constantly faced with differing opinions and views, but knowing how to handle these in a professional manner is a skill that is not taught in the classroom but learnt over time.
Understanding how to overcome these challenges and voice opinions in a considered manner is something you’ll get used to on a placement abroad as in overseas hospitals, with different working practices and spoken languages, opinions are often very different.
A healthcare professional is always part of a team, and volunteering abroad will be a great way to demonstrate and develop these skills.
Volunteering a great way to show willingness to be a team player and develop those crucial teamwork skills that so many employers look for. In another country with different languages, rules, and cultures to abide by, you’re thrown into a situation where teamwork is essential especially where a patient’s health is at risk.
Volunteering abroad is one of the most generous things you can do, but in addition to the clinical experience, there are other lessons and skills to be learnt which carry their own rewards too.
Whether you’re a pre-university student looking for work experience, a medical student looking for a worthwhile elective, a medical professional taking a career break or simply just want to volunteer your time and skills, a medical project overseas can be a daunting prospect. When leaving the comforts of home behind to embark on a new adventure, you’ll want to be sure that you know what to expect when taking on a medical volunteering project.
We’ve put together a brief introduction to medical volunteering, from the personal and career benefits to daily life and the working conditions you’ll experience.
They say that travel broadens the mind, and by volunteering with us on a medical project overseas you will be able to travel to an amazing country you probably wouldn’t have considered journeying to before.
Volunteering is an extremely rewarding thing to do and you’ll have the opportunity to create some amazing memories and make new friends in an entirely different environment.
It’s important to remember, that whilst rewarding, it will be a demanding experience and one that you should prepare yourself for. Working away from home, surrounded by people you don’t know and in an environment which may be emotionally draining can be challenging, but you’ll be supported by our friendly overseas staff and the comradeship of your fellow volunteers who will all be based in the same area.
Everyone has different motivations for joining our medical volunteering placement. Whether you’re a pre-university student looking to boost their application to medical school, an elective student or qualified professional, volunteering will look great on your CV / Resume.
Aside from what you learn about medicine overseas on the placement, volunteering abroad will allow you to learn a new language and experience a new culture, both of which are great qualities that universities and employers will be keen to make use of. Helping a local community will show your charitable spirit and can also help to aid your career choice or your next step in life.
At Global Medical Projects we have a variety of volunteering options available for those interested in medical, nursing, physiotherapy, dentistry, paramedic or radiography projects. You could be assisting on maternity wards, providing dental care or shadowing doctors and nurses. No two days are the same and you will have the opportunity to experience a variety of hospital departments and clinics but rest assured that you will be fully integrated into the team.
Typically you will work office hours, Monday to Friday, leaving weekends free to travel with the other volunteers but be prepared to work occasional evenings and weekends too.
Volunteering certainly isn’t a luxury holiday and working conditions during your hospital experience will be vastly different to home. You’ll be working in a variety of communities, most of which are under privileged, and see the challenges these communities face on a daily basis.
Volunteering abroad will give you real hands on experience and you’re likely to see different tropical infections and diseases that you may not have encountered previously. You may see a lack of funding during your placement and experience times when patients can’t afford to pay for treatments.
What’s included on a Trip?
Your trip with Global Medical Projects will include;
Local induction and orientation
Medical placement and donation
Local overseas support
Food provided by your host family or organisation
You’ll need to take care of the following;
Food at weekends
Volunteering is a life changing experience and one that we hope will stay with you for a long time. We look forward to welcoming you on one of our placements soon!