Royal colleges call on doctors to volunteer in developing countries

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  04 Apr 2013


The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has urged UK doctors to volunteer in resource poor settings to increase their expertise in global health and learn new skills.

Healthcare in the UK is increasingly influenced by global health challenges, such as pandemic diseases and health problems among migrants and refugees, the academy says. Volunteering overseas can give doctors the skills to engage in these emerging global health challenges and develop skills that could be applied in their NHS careers, it argues.

In a statement supported by the medical royal colleges, NHS Employers, the BMA, and the government, the academy said that it was “critical” that UK based healthcare professionals took advantage of opportunities to volunteer in healthcare in low resource settings.

John Howard, chairman of the academy’s international forum, said, “We believe that volunteering helps to both further the global health agenda and enhance the outlook and values of those that volunteer. Taking ourselves out of our own day to day environments to share with and learn from others can help to keep fresh our perspectives and promote high quality healthcare and patient and carer experience.”

The academy does, however, acknowledge the challenges that doctors face in securing volunteer work overseas, such as having time out from training and getting formal recognition of volunteering for professional development purposes.

The academy has urged its members and others who play a role in facilitating volunteering opportunities to work together to overcome these challenges. It has provided several case studies on how healthcare professionals can successfully take time out of their NHS careers to volunteer abroad.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: