Opportunities and Improvisations: A Pediatric Surgeon’s Suggestions for Successful Short-Term Surgical Volunteer Work in Resource-Poor Areas
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There is a paucity of trained pediatric surgeons in resource-poor areas, and many children never receive care for debilitating problems that could readily be managed by surgeons with proper training, supplies, and instrumentation. This article, written from the perspective of a surgeon who has been both the recipient of and the provider of volunteer surgical services, is intended to encourage surgeons in technologically advanced locations to volunteer in underserved areas and to assist them in the implementation of such endeavors. Concepts are presented with an emphasis on pediatric surgery, but most are relevant for volunteers in all surgical specialties. Volunteer paradigms include, but are not limited to, the “surgical brigade” model, where a large group of health care professionals take all needed equipment and supplies for the duration of their stint, and the “minimalist” model, where a single volunteer works with local personnel using locally available equipment. For a successful volunteer endeavor the host needs to have a perceived need for the volunteer’s services, and the volunteer must be flexible in adapting to meet overwhelming needs with limited resources. It is suggested that appropriate technology, such as the inexpensive anal stimulator presented herein, should be employed whenever possible. With proper planning, realistic expectations, and a cooperative and helpful attitude, volunteer trips can be rewarding experiences for both volunteers and host physicians and lead to lasting relationships that improve children’s lives globally.
KeywordsPediatric Surgeon Anorectal Malformation Underserved Area Anesthesia Provider Local Doctor
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