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Volunteering Overseas Revives Physicians' Outlooks

Volunteer experiences often boost personal fulfillment, professional esteem

MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Physician volunteer programs can revive doctors' passion for medicine, according to an article published Nov. 11 in Medical Economics.

Programs like Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) offer volunteers with a wide variety of professional experience (from recent medical school graduates to retired physicians) and across medical specialties a chance to volunteer their services around the globe. Daily burdens, like dealing with insurance and time pressure, are removed and volunteers can provide medical training and mentorship to health care providers in the destination country or they can provide direct care to needy patients.

In addition to personal fulfillment from helping those truly in need of medical attention, volunteering offers two other benefits: reviving confidence in their basic clinical skills and enhancing relationships with their patients. With limited resources available, physicians must rely on the most basic diagnostic tests -- a finger on the pulse rather than fancy machines and lots of laboratory tests. Additionally, sharing the volunteer experience often enhances physicians' relationships with their patients back home.

"As challenging and as much work as it is to do it, whether you volunteer with HVO or another group, physicians will look back on it and say it's one of the best things they've ever done," said Kate Fincham, HVO's director of program support, according to the Medical Economics article.

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