DocTours Newsletter April 2013
As the weather gets cooler now is the time to start
planning and arranging your next journey.
What to expect?
So you are interested in volunteering – great! Sipping cocktails by a swimming pool cannot compare with the unforgettable experience that you will have on a volunteer program. Read below about the experience enjoyed by one of our doctors who recently travelled to Nepal. There will not be a red carpet to welcome you however you will be make a huge difference to the lives of individuals, families and communities. When in doubt about what to expect and what is expected of you, take inspiration from the Hippocratic Oath.
The Oath states:
“I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgement”, “In a pure and holy way, I will guard my life and my art and science”,
” I will keep them from harm and injustice.”
“I will not cut ….”,
“I will remain silent …. “,
The Oath therefore reminds doctors to act in the best interests of their patients, maintain a high level of professional integrity and acknowledge the limits of their competence by referring cases to more specialised practitioners. There is also an expectation of confidentiality with the need to build trust with both patients and colleagues. These are also the universal rules for volunteering.
Our most asked question is “What should I expect when volunteering?” Of course everybody will have a different expectation and therefore we have decided to plant a few seeds for you. So when you embark on a volunteering program with DocTours there won’t be too many surprises at your destination. Most importantly, remember to “go with the flow”. You are about to embark on a once in a lifetime experience that will be extremely challenging, frustrating, exhilarating, rewarding and definitely unforgettable. Every country is a unique environment of different sights, sounds, smells and tastes. In addition, their culture, religion, laws and language may seem strange at first and therefore please remain respectful as you learn and appreciate the differences!
You will be working in a functioning hospital or medical clinic in a developing country and therefore you will be offering them another pair of hands as well as your valuable experience and training. You will not be expected to work outside your area of expertise however you will see cases that you do not see in Australia and the type of equipment and medicine (or rather, the lack thereof) will be different to what you are used to. Some of our volunteers returning from Cambodia are seeing their first case of leprosy, while others are mystified as to how hospitals seem to operate without the most basic of equipment or supplies (such as the lack of soap and gloves or needles that are re-used many times). However it is important to use your initiative, continually offer assistance, be flexible and build trust by discussing cases and suggestions with your new colleagues.
Depending on the location, volunteers may be placed in home stay accommodation where they live with a local family. It is a fantastic experience to stay with a family to learn their way of life, meet local people, eat local food and engage in local customs and traditions. During orientation you will be advised on how to ensure that you respect your host family’s house rules and culture.
In Cambodia, we use guest houses (similar to a modest motel) where you have your own room with ensuite bathroom which is an ideal scenario for couples and families who wish to work and stay together. Other destinations may use a shared volunteer house and/or dormitory style accommodation which are a great way to meet other volunteers from around the world. All accommodation is VERY basic indeed but clean and in most cases with western toilets. On occasions in rural outposts you may have a mattress on the floor and no hot water. In some locations we can upgrade you to hotels and guesthouses at additional cost.
What’s hot? Namibia
We have received a lot of interest in our new volunteer program in Namibia and now we have a couple of incredible tours that you can join pre or post your program. The best time to see Namibia is now through November.
For those short of time we have a 3 night 4 day Etosha Wildlife Safari ( 3 star ) for around $ 1190.00 per person twin share and half board ( Breakfast and dinner ) . OR
An unbelievable 5 day tour of the Skeleton Coast – flying low over the ship wrecks and seal colonies, where huge sand dunes meet the sea, and Sossusvlei with its giant 300 metre red dunes (one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia) and the Etosha National Park, the Namibian wildlife sanctuary where waterholes reveal its population of lion, rhino and river elephant. This is not your average safari and it will absolutely astound you.
A volunteer experience in Nepal
One of our volunteer doctors visited Nepal recently and wrote about her experience: Public hospitals, which are mostly under-resourced, can also be expensive, so many Nepalese are left to care for the sick independently. This made the community work invaluable to me, as I was able to stretch my knowledge and creativity to make inexpensive management plans.The first ‘health camp’ (clinic) I went to was at a poor district on the outskirts of Bharatpur. I had a nurse translating for me, while I and two other local junior doctors saw 130 patients in just a few hours. Cases ranged from orthopaedic to paediatric to dermatological, but were predominantly gastroenterology complaints.
Read the full article in the Medical Observer Jounal:
Next month we will publish a volunteer’s experience in Cambodia.
What’s new …..
Medical Student Placements: DocTours are now able to place medical students in some fantastic international locations such as Cambodia, Nepal, Tanzania, Kenya, and Vietnam to gain valuable experience. Volunteers may do their medical elective at hospitals in various locations, where they will have limited hands-on or observational supervised clinical placements in a variety of faculties relevant to their expertise and interests. So drop us note to request a call-back to discuss one of these invaluable experiences that are great value for money!