The last few months I have spent in Asia and have just recently returned to the United States. Most of my time, I spent volunteering with Health Volunteers Overseas. This is my second time volunteering through this organization, which has exposed me to rewarding and unique opportunities to engage in physical therapy abroad. Here is a little more about this organization:
Generally speaking, Health Volunteers Overseas has many international locations with goal of educating local population to provide healthcare services. These locations include numerous countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America. In addition to physical therapy, they have opportunities for anesthesiology, oncology, cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, surgery, hand surgery, occupational therapy, hematology, infectious disease, internal medicine, maternal health, women’s health, pediatrics, mental health, dentistry, orthopedics, pharmacy, wound care, lymphedema, and other other areas. Even if a particular area of specialty is not listed, it may still be a good idea to contact them because they may not have a particular need listed. I know of at least two volunteers who had fit this criteria. Program goals, expected duration of visit, and details will vary from project to project, so check out each project’s home page. The staff at Health Volunteers Overseas helps to find the best matches for volunteers and sites and coordinate the process.
I have volunteered with Health Volunteers Overseas at their Bhutan and St. Lucia projects. St. Lucia requires typically shorter time frames and Bhutan some of the longer time frames for their physical therapy volunteers. Both locations, emphasized education as their primary objective consistent with Health Volunteers Overseas overall mission. However, teaching in a classroom setting in an academic setting was a major part of my Bhutan experience, but not at all in St. Lucia. In both situations, it was hard work but rewarding to see a difference being made.
For more information on getting involved with Health Volunteers Overseas at any of their other projects please visit their website:
Hope this helps,