Presently Medicorps offers elective rotations in Cambodia in an effort to open new worlds of knowledge, insight and empathy to visiting medical volunteers while presenting high level medical advances to their local partners and increase their knowledge in turn. The rotations come as packages (minimum 1 week) including accommodation and logistic support for a reasonable fee.
We usually place trainees with adequate clinical experience in government hospitals in their choice of specialty (if available) accompanied by Cambodians fluent in Medical English. The visitors participate in all aspects of clinical work to learn about tropical diseases and pathology typical of countries under the severe restraints of poverty. They have the chance to gain insight into Khmer culture and sharpen their professional skills having to function without much of the technical assistance offered in industrialized countries. Based on the judgment of their Cambodian preceptors they may be allowed to engage in hands-on activities such as surgical interventions.
Some visitors may not want to participate in a hospital based program preferring to work in rural environments or don’t have the necessary clinical background (pre-med or junior medical students). We would place them in a rural development program such as:
- our health oriented Self-Reliance-School close to Battambang where we teach children important topics of preventive health care, public health and basic medicine for free.
- with one of our associated community development NGOs, such as 'Build your Future Today’. Here the students have the chance to study and be involved in public health issues and rural economic development. We also encourage research projects and welcome topics proposed by our trainees for their theses or other academic purposes. We supervise such projects along the principles of ‘Rigorous Evaluation’ quality control.
In keeping with our agreements with international universities we place emphasis on verifiable retention of material presented. Each participant will have to complete questionnaires documenting the knowledge gained in hospitals and or villages in order to obtain a Certificate of Graduation.
Please remember that
- It often takes time for trainees to understand the local culture and gain the acceptance and trust of the local doctors and nurses. As nurse Emily Mottershead puts it: “I thoroughly enjoyed my placement at the hospital. It was hard at first to get into it, but once I had been there a week or two I started to settle in.”
- The challenge of communicating with non-English speakers is a big obstacle, but your companion will make it much easier. For longer term visitors we can arrange at a minimal cost.
- Adapting to a very alien environment can be quite frustrating. Government hospital schedules are not nearly as structured as back home. You will have to be very patient and use a lot of own initiative to maximize your experience.
- The shorter your rotation is the less your chance of doing much hands-on work.
- As Trainee Kat Osman summarizes it: “…we're witnessing how a developing world health care system works, or doesn't work, as it sometimes goes. It's a fascinating process, one that our Western mindsets barely have a frame of reference for, and will require more patience than we perhaps imagined.” And student Carrie Griffin remembers: “On the second day in Phnom Penh we were ready to bail, declare this trip a failure, and skip off to the Thailand coast. Thanks to the intervention of Medicorps founder Dr. Hintz, we sublimated that impulse for one more day and are beyond grateful that we did.”