I was cheered to read that 20 men and women graduated from medical school in Somalia last week, becoming that country’s first new class of physicians in more than two decades. What a feat! Reports say they dodged firefights on the way to school, maneuvering through Mogadishu, one of the world’s most violent cities. The ceremony was held inside the barricaded walls of a hotel.
The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population does not have access to basic health care. And the Global Health Workforce Alliance projects a global shortage of 4.3 million healthcare providers. Twenty new physicians may not seem like much, but their impact will be immense. After watching the documentary Living in Emergency—Stories of Doctors Without Borders, a film VISTA supported throughout its production, I am awed by the energy and contribution a tiny handful of care givers can make. Watch this space for information about distribution of the film.
In the meantime, I can’t resist encouraging physicians considering retirement to think about locum tenens as a way to continue making a contribution to the global healthcare workforce. Your skills and time are incredibly valuable to organizations trying to recruit full-time doctors, covering for doctors on medical leave or military deployment, and/or staffing up to serve huge volumes of patients. As a locum tenens, you don’t have to own or manage a practice. You can practice pure medicine, essentially where and when you want. I can assure you that you will feel the deep appreciation of patients, colleagues, and communities. We can also place locum tenens doctors in Australia and New Zealand, both of which also face extreme physician shortages.
PS: And if you happen to know a pediatric anesthesiologist, preferably with some academic affiliation or experience, our friends are IVUmed are urgently seeking a volunteer for their upcoming surgical workshop in Senegal, February 13-22, 2009. IVUmed is a non-profit organization that provides medical and surgical education to physicians and nurses, and quality urological treatment to thousands of suffering children and adults through outreach programs and surgical workshops worldwide. Find out more at http://www.ivumed.org/opportunities/ .