Learn About Global Volunteering during the AAOS 2017 Annual Meeting

I wasn’t sure what to expect in either the work or living situation. By having an open mind and willingness to participate in whatever opportunity was available, I think a volunteer will do very well. One needs to be relatively independent and patient, in terms of navigating around the city and managing daily activities.” 

–Divya Singh, Project Director, Orthopaedics Myanmar

Each HVO experience is personally enriching. It is truly a joy to teach, demonstrate, operate and take care of people; all the reasons I went into medicine without all the politics and computers I left at home.” 

–Germaine Fritz, HVO volunteer, leader and former Project Director for Orthopaedics Ethiopia

So, you think you want to volunteer overseas? Okay, you know you want to volunteer overseas. But where to start? The task of finding an international volunteer opportunity that complements your unique skill set and level of experience is daunting. Once this is accomplished, numerous logistical issues—from visa applications to housing and transport—must be resolved.

Many HVO volunteers will tell you that the knowledge they gained and the relationships they built through their overseas assignments in resource-scarce countries made the early steps in the process well worth the effort. If you are attending the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego this March, a few of those volunteers will even tell you in person.

Orthopaedics Overseas (OO) – the founding division of Health Volunteers Overseas – will host a two-hour session during this upcoming meeting entitled, “How Can I Volunteer Overseas?” The session, which will take place from 1–3 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, will be moderated by Gary Anderson, MD, Chair of the OO Board of Directors.

Following an introduction from Dr. Anderson, Nancy Kelly, MHS, Executive Director of HVO, will give a 20-minute presentation on the nuts and bolts of volunteering overseas. Ms. Kelly will address how HVO helps volunteers overcome some of the initial obstacles described above, from finding the perfect project to navigating the visa application process to facilitating communication with the project site.

Attendees will then have the opportunity to hear from HVO volunteers and project directors Divya Singh, MD, Todd Kim, MD, and Germaine Fritz, DO. Drs. Singh and Kim will each discuss strategies for effective volunteering, including the importance of meeting providers and sites where they are in terms of resources, and the necessity of knowing your own limits as a provider. Dr. Fritz will address the question, “Why Volunteer?”—drawing on insights gained from multiple overseas assignments.

After the conclusion of Dr. Fritz’s presentation, the four speakers will take questions as a panel. They will be joined by Dr. Dino Aguilar, the on-site coordinator of HVO’s orthopaedic training project in Nicaragua, who will bring his unique perspective to this final question and answer segment. In addition to connecting with the scheduled speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with HVO volunteers and staff members in the audience, including Andrea Moody, MA, HVO’s Project Support Manager, who handles volunteer placement for orthopaedic volunteers. Whether you are a first-time volunteer, or a seasoned veteran looking to improve your efficacy on your next overseas assignment, this session is for you! The volunteer session is open to all participants registered for the AAOS 2017 Annual Meeting.

In addition to Thursday’s session, HVO will be co-hosting a luncheon with the Société Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie (SICOT) to celebrate and discuss global orthopaedic care. The luncheon will take place on Friday, March 17, from 12 noon-2 p.m. The cost of the luncheon is $100, and you can purchase your ticket in advance. Be advised that space is limited.

We hope you will join us for these two events and help spread the word to your professional network.

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