April 3, 2011

International Medical Service Corps

A NYT article this weekend discusses some of the stories of physicians working in other countries. More physicians (and new graduates from medical school!) are interested in working abroad than ever before; this makes sense, as our world becomes more and more connected, refugees from poorer, war-torn countries have entered all of our lives, and we read every day about other countries falling apart (for now, I won't mention the ways in which our own is falling right with them...)

However, the way this is financed is incredibly scattered and often involves a component of financial support from the individual, which is not always feasible to medical graduates who are carrying many hundred thousands of dollars of debt. Vanessa Kerry MD (John Kerry's daughter), and Paul Farmer MD wrote an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably medicine's most prestigious and well-read journal, advocating for the creating of a Peace Corps-like Medical Corps of new graduates and health professionals who would work with and train medical personnel in some of the poorest countries around the world. They argue that this would foster improvement in these countries economies - because they would have to spend less on the costs of pandemics - as well as foster better international relations.

This is something I hope to do after I graduate, but I won't be able to if I have to pay back my loans on the salary I make after residency. Therefore, I am very interested in these programs becoming more financially feasible.

"She plans to deliver in the same place she gave birth before – in her cow shed. When women are menstruating or giving birth, they are considered to be ritually polluted and must stay outside of the home, often in cowsheds or cement rooms near toilet facilities."
-Gates Foundation Website about a Nepali patient

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