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International Opportunities in Ophtho?

Discussion in 'Ophthalmology: Eye Physicians & Surgeons' started by Corn Dog, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. Corn Dog

    Corn Dog Dream Big
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    I'm interested in doing international work in ophtho. I'm guessing that there must be a ton of demand for this type of work, yet it's been pretty tough trying to find them. It doesn't help that there is no faculty member at my school who is involved in this type of work.

    I know there's UnitedforSight program that does a lot of international work i ophtho. I'm just interested in knowing other international opportunities out there. Any others you've done or heard of?

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. eyehope

    eyehope Junior Member
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    1. ORBIS - need to be board certified + 4 years out of residency (difficult to join from what I've heard)

    2. International Eye Foundation

    3. http://www.aao.org/international/links.cfm
    (links to many others)
     
  4. Corn Dog

    Corn Dog Dream Big
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    Wow. There are quite a lot. Any recommendations in particular for medical students seeking international opportunities?

    Thanks for your input, eyehope!
     
  5. digitalsideburn

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    I can address some aspects of opportunities for medical students. I'm a 4th yr currently applying to ophtho residency.

    UniteForSight (http://www.uniteforsight.org/ ) does indeed have many opportunities out there for college, medical, optometric and other students. I almost went on a trip with them but decided last minute against it when I learned about 1) the need to raise $1400 in addition to paying your own way (flights, housing, etc) 2) the lack of programs specifically geared to med students, 3) lack of flexibility in terms of dates/duration. That said, I met someone on the interview trail this year who went with them to Ghana and loved it.

    I pursued an elective with the Tilganga eye hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal this past summer. (Scroll down this page for "Elective Medical Students" http://www.tilganga.org/edu_training.php ) They have a state of the art regional eye hospital that is totally NGO supported, covers all ophtho subspecialties, and regularly has visiting med students. I worked at this eye hospital with attendings and local residents for 10 days, and then went on a surgical eye camp in rural Nepal for another 5 days. It was an incredible experience. Most powerful was experiencing their culture, the disparities in health care, and how different their attitudes towards physicians were (among other things). There was also another 4th yr ophtho applicant there from another school who also had a fabulous time.

    There are numerous other opportunities out there for medical students that come from establishing contacts with physicians who conduct international ophthalmology. However, the most challenging aspect of this is to establish these contacts and to setup activities for you to do in other countries. If a strong plan isn't in place, these types of trips can be risky in terms of actually having a good experience.

    When looking for these types of experiences it is important to recognize that many of these are more of an "observership" than a true medical elective. Many of us expect to land in another country and to make a huge impact medically. However, this is quite difficult because of disparities in language (huge one), knowledge of medical systems, and lack of ophtho surgical skills. That said, you can certainly help out- but your job is more to learn about ophtho in these countries and how you might better their care in the future (through fundraising, coming back with an MD, etc). Going in without any expectations often yields more satisfying outcomes in life (in least in my experience).

    A big issue with doing international ophtho as a med student is funding. Some schools provide for this. It's very important as a month long experience will run you $2-3k when all is said and done. Also, timing is an issue. For me I only had one window of time- I went just after I turned in my SFMatch residency application in late August and came back just before interviews were to begin. Going late in your 4th yr after the match would also work well.

    Feel free to PM me with questions.
     

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