Benefits to developing countries
The UK has a long history of international healthcare initiatives, particularly in developing countries, with UK doctors contributing their knowledge to healthcare systems around the world in various ways. This ongoing commitment and support is vital for developing nations, who continue to improve thanks to doctors willing to share their skills and experience, contributing to the education and training of their developing country colleagues.
Benefits to the NHS and its patients
With an increasingly ethnically diverse population, the NHS benefits in both the long and short term, from having staff with cross-cultural experience and awareness. Often voluntary positions give doctors exposure to a diverse spectrum of diseases, experience of working in small, multidisciplinary teams and the opportunity to gain skills in allocating resources, planning and monitoring initiatives, all of which are useful and transferable to working in the NHS.
Benefits to you and your career
Volunteering in developing countries provides an opportunity for students, trainees and fully trained doctors to develop non-clinical and leadership skills, to identify career paths for their professional lives and also to contribute to their personal development. Sharing skills with colleagues who work in resource poor health systems with low staff levels, limited equipment and medicines, and other pressures, in turn give the chance to gain skills that assist in adapting to the changing face of the NHS and innovating when it comes to patient care into the future.