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Internships and Voluntary Work

Improving health at home and abroad: How overseas volunteering from the NHS benefits the UK and the world


The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health have produced a report on overseas volunteering and partnerships from the NHS. The report, Improving health at home and abroad: How overseas volunteering from the NHS benefits the UK and the world addresses the role of NHS staff who volunteer overseas in advancing health globally and bringing new knowledge, skills and ideas back to the UK, and what can be done to facilitate this work further.

An “extraordinarily long list of benefits” from overseas volunteering was compiled during the review. These have been refined down to the four most compelling: health gains for developing countries, leadership development, innovation and international relationships. The report states that, “although often ‘under the radar’, overseas volunteering is already a valuable asset to the NHS, and could be contributing much more still.”

THET have responded to this by urging people to put the valuable work that volunteers do with health partnerships on the radar. Calling on those who have volunteered to raise the profile of their work in their Trust and in their locality – with their MP and the media by telling them about the benefits at home and abroad. They have produced a toolkit to facilitate this.

THET also have an excellent resource outlining the benefits of volunteering.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges: Volunteering Statement

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (the Academy) have published a statement encouraging support for the engagement of health professionals in voluntary work.  They have argued that Healthcare in the UK is widening its focus from local to global health related challenges. This means that doctors need to be more aware of health issues from a broader perspective and also in delivering that care in low resource environments.

Broadening Horizons: Working and Training in developing Countries produced by the BMA has been developed in consultation with key bodies from medical education and employment and outlines national policies as well as examples of best practice.  The guide is aimed at both doctors and those in medical education and employment, at all stages of their careers. Alma Mata has consulted on the 2013 update.  The BMA can support doctors with the process, including offering pensions and employment advice. The BMA also offers full-time unpaid voluntary workers for charitable organisations free membership.

Research Opportunity in Peru
This is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in a dynamic and productive research team under the mentorship of Professor Robert Gilman from Johns Hopkins University. Please see attached file for more details and contact Danni Kirwan at for further information and to apply.

African Health Placements (AHP) – mission is to staff the healthcare facilities of southern Africa with a solid complement of enthusiastic people. They operate within the ethical restrictions and standards set by regulatory bodies such as the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the Foreign Workforce Management Programme (FWMP). For a better understanding of the options available to you, please see here.

The AMECA Trust have a fantastic database that contains information about hospitals in many countries across sub-Saharan Africa where there are opportunities to work or volunteer.  You can search according to location or specialty, or contact the Trust directly if you have any specific questions or requirements.

COOL (COSECA Oxford Orthopaedic Link)  The College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa offer research and training in primary trauma care and musculoskeletal impariment across ten sub-Saharan countries in the COSECA region.

Devex – News and jobs for aid workers and international development professionals.

The Kambia Appeal have a volunteer programme that aims to improve health outcomes and quality of healthcare delivery within Kambia District.  They aim to empowering UK health volunteers through skill sharing to train and teach local healthcare workers, develop quality improvement tools, and provide clinical support.  They also strive to contribute to the personal and professional development of UK health volunteers.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a non-governmental organization that was founded in 1971 by a small group of French doctors and journalists who believed that all people have the right to medical care regardless of race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national borders.  They actively provides health care and medical training to populations in about 70 countries.  MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 in recognition of its members’ continued efforts to provide medical care in acute crises, as well as raising international awareness of potential humanitarian disasters.  More than 2,500 international medical and non-medical staff work alongside 30,000 locally hired staff to provide medical aid in countries around the world.  Visit their website for more details on how to apply.

Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, is a medical, humanitarian, non-governmental organisation which relies on volunteer health professionals to participate in its projects throughout the world in both developing and developed countries. It provides medical assistance to vulnerable populations in emergency situations and where there have been long-term effects arising from political and economic development.

Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN)their overall aim is to improve the health of populations affected by conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and health systems collapse through the provision of appropriate and accessible healthcare. It concentrates on emergency medical relief and intensive training. Typical posts would involve working to rebuild medical systems, running clinics and education and nutrition programmes.

RedR –  builds the skills of local people and communities in areas of disaster, delivers expert training in the UK and in the field, recruits humanitarian professionals who can respond to emergencies or take longer-term placements, provides online expertise to aid workers on assignment and supports a network of members who are vital to humanitarian work.

Response International – working for victims of conflict. HMD Response International is always keen to hear from potential volunteers who want to offer their expertise and help victims of conflict. For further details contact the Programme Manager on +44 020 7372 6972 or send your cv and covering letter to

The Welbodi Partnership supports the provision of paediatric care in Sierra Leone.  They provide funding and facilitation to help the Ola During Children’s Hospital to become a centre of excellence in healthcare for children that will disseminate much-needed paediatric expertise and hence raise standards across Sierra Leone. As well as providing high-quality care to its own patients, the children’s hospital trains medical students, general and specialist children’s doctors, and paediatric nurses, many of whom will go on to staff other health facilities across the country.  They work closely with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and with child health experts worldwide, and have established a unique combination of local presence and international partnerships. Our main focus is on building local capacity, both of healthcare and management staff. Volunteer opportunities currently available

Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET) – is a specialist global health organisation that educates, trains and supports health workers through partnerships, strengthening health systems and enabling people in low and middle income countries to access essential healthcare.  If you are interested in volunteering with one of their programmes, you can contact the team directly: SOMALILAND and ZAMBIA.  If there is a particular health partnership you are looking to get involved with then just head to their Health Partnerships page – a dedicated resource that lets you search for partnerships by name, country and specialism.

UK-Med: UK International Emergency Trauma Register: brings together surgeons, anaesthetists, emergency physicians/nurses and other supporting medical, nursing and paramedical personnel who are interested in responding to large scale emergencies overseas.  The principle of the register is that it is inclusive and all those who have appropriate skills arewelcome. As members gain in experience they will become more eligible for emergency deployment. When fully trained and experienced, members will be available at 24-48 hours notice to be deployed overseas for 2-3 weeks in response to a major international catastrophe..

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)’s work revolves around four development areas: health, participation and governance, secure livelihoods and education.   Most of their placements require at least two years’ professional experience.  VSO has relationships and partnerships with most of the Medical Royal Colleges in the UK and runs Fellowship Programmes with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)matching prospective trainee volunteers to 6-12 month overseas placements as out of programme experience (OOPE). These programmes are endorsed and accredited by the Royal College partners. Pre-requisites for paediatrician trainees are that they will have completed ST3 at time of departure and for obstetricians and gynaecologists ST4, amongst other criteria.

A number of delegates at the recent Alma Mata conference expressed interest in undertaking an internship with Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa (activist organisation campaigning for greater access to anti-retroviral treatment for Southern Africans).

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