Benefits to host countries
The UK has a long history of supporting international healthcare initiatives, particularly in low-resource settings, with UK doctors contributing their knowledge to healthcare systems around the world in various ways. This ongoing commitment and support is vital for nations with weak or under-resourced health systems.
Providing direct care can have significant short-term benefits for the communities where you volunteer, especially during emergencies. Roles that involve sharing your skills and experience can have a longer-term impact by contributing to the education and training of your overseas colleagues. This transfer of skills and knowledge plays an important role in capacity building and health systems strengthening in low and middle-income countries.
Benefits to the NHS and its patients
With an increasingly ethnically diverse population, the NHS benefits in both the short and long-term from having staff with cross-cultural experience and awareness.
Working in resource-poor health systems with low staff levels and limited access to equipment, diagnostics and medicines will give you the opportunity to hone your clinical skills. In these settings, medical volunteers gain experience of managing a diverse spectrum of diseases and injuries.
By volunteering abroad, you are also likely to have the opportunity to gain experience working in small, multidisciplinary teams and to develop skills in allocating resources, planning and monitoring initiatives, and teaching or supervising groups. These skills are useful and transferable to working in the NHS. They will help you to adapt to changes in the UK healthcare system and to innovate when it comes to delivery of patient care.
Benefits to you and your career
Volunteering globally provides an opportunity for students, trainees and fully trained doctors to develop non-clinical skills in communication, teamwork, leadership and management. These experiences can help you to identify career paths for your professional life and contribute to your personal development. Volunteering can have a positive impact on your resilience, work satisfaction and retention upon return from overseas placements.