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surgery and the underserved...

Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by bottomlesspit, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. bottomlesspit

    bottomlesspit 2+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2007
    first of all, i want to thank everyone for all of their thoughtful, insightful and personable advice. i'm so appreciative to have found a surgery-dedicated forum where i can field any question, and have my hopes of receiving an honest, experienced answer satisfied 5 or even 10-fold! many thanks to all :D

    so now i have yet another question about the intersection between surgery and OTHER interests. people always portray surgery as so wholly demanding in and of itself that no time or space is left in a surgeon's world to care about anything else ...

    it's a somewhat complex topic, but i'll try to make it brief. most of us are probably aware that primary care is supposedly the best, most effective way to address the needs of the underserved. fam practice, medicine, peds -- in all of these specialties, it's incredibly easy to find people and programs dedicated to serving inner city/immigrant/homeless/minority/impoverished/rural/global communities.

    but this strikes me as odd -- poor people, whether domestically or internationally -- need surgery just as much as rich people do. perhaps even more. and considering that everyone claims that the best HO is a 3rd-5th year surgery resident (with which i agree whole-heartedly), why don't these two groups of people intersect more? the best trained working with the neediest? what makes better sense?

    so i'm wondering whether it's possible to have a career in surgery and still regularly work with disenfranchised communities and populations, both domestically and abroad?

    of course, i've heard of the wonderful plastic surgeon who takes a month every year to fix cleft palates in nigeria, but i'm looking for something with more longitudinal scope, and ideally, something you could do domestically in your career rather than having to take your vacation time to work abroad in order to do good things. i'd prefer to do good things at home *as well as* abroad...

    i hope this makes sense ... i fear i might be rambling ... thanks in advance for reading :oops:
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    NDESTRUKT Fadeproof 10+ Year Member

    i know plenty of general surgeons that dedicate overseas time. what ultimately matters is whether your group that you join or organization you work for lets you take the time off to go overseas.
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    While the work of PRS in underserved countries and populations is probably more well-known, large humanitarian groups, like Doctors without Borders, certainly do take general surgeons on-board. Doing this, as noted above, does require a certain commitment from your partners or the hospital you are employed by, to allow to go on sabbatical every few years.

    But you don't necessarily need to go abroad to help the underserved. Unlike Angelina Jolie and Oprah, you can do some great work in the USA. Doing pro-bono work in rural communities, setting up surgical clinics for the underserved (who might otherwise not get care or would delay it unneccessarily for the fear of long ER waits or bills). Unfortunately, our residency system is not set-up, in most cases, to allow residents to do work abroad except during lab years or perhaps a month long elective. The same is true as an attending but there are relief groups that do support sending general surgeons abroad and in the US for a few weeks at a time to provide such services (one of the community surgery residencies in PA does this every spring).
  5. Tigger14

    Tigger14 Ready to move 7+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2002
  6. Dr. Z

    Dr. Z New Member

    May 27, 2004
    There are many publicly funded hospitals in the United States that need dedicated surgeons. I work at one and I LOVE my job. Sure, I get frustrated because we have a hard time getting the latest equipment, the best staff, etc. But, the people I work with are dedicated to the mission of the hospital and enjoy the challenges of taking care of people with less than average means. I make a good living, but, my friends in "private" practice make more money. However, rewards are not always financial.
  7. Amgen1

    Amgen1 New Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2005
    State, County, and VA hospitals all have surgeons (usually on an affiliated med school staff). You are definitely helping the poor and underserved at these institutions.
    Most residents spend a significant amount of their time training at these same hospitals.
  8. LuckyMD2b

    LuckyMD2b Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 27, 2003
    Thanks for the post, that's an awesome site. Dr. Cox is right there's so much need for surgeons right here in the United States; I definitely want to do something like this in the future. Good luck everyone.

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