Medical Seminar praises Projects Abroad volunteers
No one can deny that it's a tough call being a medical volunteer in India. There are many demands on you - a new culture, the hot weather, an almost exclusively curry diet, and to top it off, some of the more advanced medical conditions you likely to see; a result of a lack of either medical awareness, money or both, which means people tend to consult their doctors much later than we do in the west.
On Thursday the 18th of January in the town of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, Projects Abroad Director Peter Slowe met with a committee of ten of the regions most senior doctors to discuss the subject of volunteering. Each of these doctors run clinics or hospitals which continue to benefit from taking on Projects Abroad volunteers - from pre-university students to elective students to skilled doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and dentists -and the discussion revolved around the best way to match individuals to each location.
In his presentation, Dr G Gnanagurusamy (we're not being excessively formal here: Tamils from South India only use one name and their father's initial!) stressed that it was not just a matter of qualifications but also of keenness, willingness to help and the ability to get on with other staff in his clinic, that determined how successful a volunteer would be in a placement. If, as was often the case, the volunteer scored well on these criteria, they were likely to gain all kinds of useful experience.
C Rajendran, Director of Projects Abroad India, said that while Projects Abroad could only guarantee their volunteers the right to observe and to ask questions, it was great to know that volunteers were regularly asked to contribute their opinions and were made to feel very much part of the teams they were working in. Not only this, but many of them had had hands-on experience way beyond anything they could ever expect in their home-countries.
The seminar was really useful in bringing Projects Abroad and its partners in the medical profession closer together. They agreed to repeat the seminar at least once a year from now on.