By Meghan Edwards
Looking to volunteer abroad? Thinking about applying for ACR’s Goldberg-Reeder Travel Grant? Check out advice from some of radiology’s most well-seasoned travelers.
Morlie L. Wang, MD (Cambodia):
To those that haven’t applied for the grant: don’t be afraid to fail at something that you want to succeed in.
Don’t let anxieties stop you from going. When I applied for the grant, I did not tell anyone because of the opposition I knew I’d face. I had two children at home, and most people believed that I already had too much on my plate. With the support of one of my attending physicians, I decided to go anyway. Now, many years, later, my children are no worse for my absence and are proud of the work their mother did when they were younger.
Your time and knowledge are your best resources. The old adage about teaching a man to fish is true; many Goldberg-Reeder alumni noted that what physicians already possess are the best things that they can donate. While many physicians and hospitals find it prudent to donate equipment, often these donations are only good until the machines need service, as many places do not have the resources to maintain the equipment. It’s important to teach the residents in your host country about procedures that they can do with the resources they have readily available.
Understand the needs of your host country. This is another piece of advice that was frequently noted. The hospitals you travel to will be completely different from the settings you are used to — power outages are often frequent, and physicians there will have different priorities from your own. For example, in Ethiopia, the volume of imaging is not as high as in the United States, and the radiologists there spend a great deal of time directly interacting with patients and even going on rounds with the referring clinicians, notes Aarti K. Sekhar, MD, who traveled to Tanzania. She adds that it’s also a good idea to try and find out about your host site’s priorities before you travel, although sometimes that isn’t possible.
Daniel L. Cooke, MD (Tanzania):
Be prepared for things to move slowly, and don’t expect everything to fall on a timetable. That mindset is helpful in the U.S. where we have the capabilities. But in places where you have regular power outages and no internet, things will slow down fast, so you have to be flexible.
Learn more about the Goldberg-Reeder Grant.