What you should know about working abroad in international healthcare part two

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When most people think of working overseas in healthcare, they envision medical professionals working in war-torn areas or areas stricken by some kind of natural disaster. While this may be true, it is only part of what you would be doing. The truth is it’s not all chaos & emergencies in international healthcare.

Observing a surgical procedure in the operating theatre in Iringa, Tanzania. Although health emergencies and war zones make the headlines and receive more attention, working in international healthcare does not always mean working in a chaotic environment. If you are interested in international healthcare but the thought of working in the chaos of a war zone does not appeal to you, there are several other possibilities. For example, you could be part of a vaccination programme or you could choose to work in a teaching hospital in third world countries, training the next generation of local doctors. One of the goals of most organisations is not just to provide ‘imported’ care but to help countries get self-sufficient in terms of medical care.

Short-term placements are another option, especially if you would like to keep working in this field but without major disruptions to your family life. Most organisations maintain a pool of professionals that they can call upon to help when needed.

What’s so fascinating about working in international healthcare?

Like any other opportunity, working overseas too has its fair share of pros and cons. One of the biggest downsides to working in this field is that it means having to be away from your family, sometimes for long stretches of time. The second downside is that most assignments are in resource poor countries where you may not have access to all of the luxuries and amenities that you are used to back home.    

However, it’s not all hardships of course. The opportunities and perks of the job often far outweigh the hardships or inconveniences that you may have to put up with, the opportunity to travel to different destinations and getting an in-depth understanding of the local people and their culture can be a very enriching experience. In addition to the prospect of personal development, it is also a great opportunity for professional development as you get to shoulder greater responsibilities and learn new techniques. Working internationally provides career prospects you would not otherwise have access to back home and these will eventually open doors and lead to other unexpected opportunities when you return home after your assignment.

For most healthcare workers who choose to take on foreign assignments, the biggest advantage of working overseas is the opportunity to work along with other medical professionals in their own, often challenging, environment.

Getting an experience in international healthcare

Interested in the idea but not sure if this is a field that is a good fit for you? Registering for a medical placement abroad is the best way to find out. During a medical placement, you get hands-on clinical experience working in local hospitals alongside local healthcare staff as well as other medical professionals from around the world.     

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