Volunteer abroad to give yourself the edge for your career in medicine

by Asako Maruoka /
Asako Maruoka's picture
Jan 24, 2013 / 0 comments

Volunteering abroad as a medic is not just a way to help others, it is also a way to help yourself. Whilst the benefits of volunteering are felt by the communities where projects are based, many volunteers claim to have taken home so much more than they have ever given. Here are some ways you can give your career in medicine the edge by volunteering.


Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/us7thfleet/7689203342/

Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/us7thfleet/7689203342/


Network globally

Working through an international volunteering organisation like Projects Abroad means that you will be working alongside other qualified professionals from across the globe. You will meet, work with and share ideas amongst people who not only share your concerns and passions but who will provide you with a global network of friends that you can call on for advice and career opportunities.


See the world

Set yourself apart whilst living in exotic locations such as Nepal, Kenya, India, or Peru. Your pluck, resourcefulness, and ability to work in challenging circumstances will shine through on your CV and you will have the trip of a lifetime that will linger in your memory long after the usual beach and bar break.


Revitalise your career

Forget those spa treatments: if you want to feel revitalised in your medical career nothing compares to the sense of fulfilment gained by volunteering abroad where resources are stretched but your expertise is valued. Your temporary posting will have a lasting effect as you return home with a renewed sense of purpose or realise new career directions.


Recognise what you have

For all the faults in the health care service you work under, volunteering abroad can help put in perspective exactly what you do have that other practitioners are still struggling without.



Whether working as a nursing volunteer abroad, a professional medic or a student you are likely to experience some of the most transformative moments in your career whilst working in settings that challenge your knowledge and skills to the limit. You can think of volunteering abroad as a professional development workshop that helps you to question your assumptions and find new answers.




Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/orbis_emea/7773039488/

Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/orbis_emea/7773039488/


Where better to learn a new language and equip yourself for work abroad than when living and working in another country? If linguistic skills are not your forte you will still take home with you a nuanced understanding of another culture as you work closely with local patients and professionals. There is no better way to understand yourself and your career than stepping outside your usual habits, routines and comfort zones.


One medical blog quotes a paediatrician returning from training medical professionals in Africa as commenting that “I learned more than I taught”. This is the view of most medical volunteers after a stint abroad: you take home so much more than you could ever give. Do something different this year and give your career the edge.