Volunteering Abroad for a Fellowship: Clinical Volunteering? Ethical?

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pv9812

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Hey everyone.

A month ago, my college offered me a fellowship to work with a local nonprofit in Ghana for 10 weeks. I would be working on community development projects, such as providing laptops, building toilets, assisting with sanitation presentations, and working at an eye clinic distributing free eyeglasses and medications. For the health-related projects, I will be around various health professionals. '

When I received this fellowship, I was very pleased and excited to take on this new opportunity, but now, as the summer is approaching, some doubts have arisen in my mind concerning the ethics of volunteering abroad. None of the work I will be doing will involve something that is not allowed for a student to do (such as hands-on work with a patient), but as I have said, I will be assisting with sanitation presentations, and working at an eye clinic. I worry that perhaps an experience like this would be looked down upon from an admissions committee perspective. By no means is it voluntourism, and the work I will be doing is, in my opinion, significant, but I am uncertain how it would be perceived. Would this fall under the realm of ethical volunteering? Would this experience be considered clinical volunteering?

Thank you.

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This does not sound like clinical volunteering as you are not engaging with patients, except the little bit at an eye clinic. Given that it is several months in duration, it doesn't feel like voluntourism.

It is useful to get a perspective on a different culture and way of life and be able to bring that back to the US. It broadens your perspective.
 
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This does not sound like clinical volunteering as you are not engaging with patients, except the little bit at an eye clinic. Given that it is several months in duration, it doesn't feel like voluntourism.

It is useful to get a perspective on a different culture and way of life and be able to bring that back to the US. It broadens your perspective.
Agree 100% with my learned colleague
 
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This does not sound like clinical volunteering as you are not engaging with patients, except the little bit at an eye clinic. Given that it is several months in duration, it doesn't feel like voluntourism.

It is useful to get a perspective on a different culture and way of life and be able to bring that back to the US. It broadens your perspective.
Sounds good. Thank you! If I do get a chance to interact with patients, perhaps it may fall under clinical volunteering, but as of right now it can be considered as nonprofit volunteering.
 
As long as you are not doing anything invasive, this NGO sounds like a great growth opportunity for you to understand global health issues. Helping others with glasses and conducting eye chart exams is fine. This sounds similar to Remote Area Medical clinics so you can come back to the US and find an occasional clinic to help out.
 
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I agree with above, and will also add, even if this does count as clinical experience in some form or another, I should not expect it to replace clinical hours in the US. That is, if you have this experience plus only 50-100 hrs of clinical experience in the US, that would be a problem - you need to make sure the US clinical experience can stand on its own as part of your application.
 
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