For many, volunteering provides an unforgettable experience. Volunteering is an opportunity to travel and live in different communities making new friends and learning exciting things along the way.
Whether you are thinking about taking a career break or are a dental graduate looking to boost your skills and experience, this article will highlight all the details you need to consider prior to volunteering and how to approach a volunteering placement overseas. It also features snippets from other dental volunteers who share their stories and it will provide you with useful contacts should you wish to take the challenge yourself.
Why YOU should volunteer
There are many different types of reasons why dentists choose to volunteer their time and help provide oral healthcare around the UK and abroad. For some dentists it's simply the satisfaction of helping others in need of treatment and making a real difference to the local community. However, others consider volunteering as an opportunity for a change, and a chance to have a new working environment from the usual scenery. Volunteering is often thought as a positive learning experience which presents challenging dental problems that you might not necessarily come by in your normal dental practice or hospital enhancing your experience.
• Dental work abroad gives you the opportunity to encounter different cultures and explore a new country
• Dental volunteering has the added benefit of learning new skills and developing your clinical experience
• Dental volunteering enables you to view how other dental professionals practice dentistry around the world and you can also examine the techniques/procedures used
Before you volunteer
It is important to do your research and find out as much information as you can before you go:
• Speak to volunteering organisations and charities directly, as they will be able to answer your queries and offer information about how to go about organising your volunteering placement. Have a look at our useful contacts page
• Ask your friends and dental colleagues for personal recommendations or information on volunteering organisations/charities
• Consider your budget and the costs involved eg flights, visas, accommodation, medical screening etc.
• Check out our useful links page
Preparing for your volunteering placement
It's really important to get as much practical information and knowledge before you go on your volunteer placement:
• Establish the main dental requirements of the patients that you will be treating where you are situated
• Research accommodation and transport links in the local area
• Try to determine the availability of dental equipment so that you can select any additional equipment from your dental kit to take with you
• Find out the local language spoken and buy a language dictionary
• Be sure to take any prescription medications which you will need or any other personal medication. Often travellers seem to be prone to catching flu or diarrhoea so make sure you visit a pharmacy for some essentials prior to going
• Ensure you have access to appropriate indemnity. Don't forget if you are a member of Dental Protection your indemnity can travel with you during your volunteering so you can seek assistance from Dental Protection in the event of a claim for clinical negligence, damages and associated legal costs.
During your volunteering placement
• Take any personal items that you may not be able to buy elsewhere such as toiletries and recreational belongings like an iPod, phone charger and camera etc.
• Your personal safety in a foreign country is crucial, so when travelling be mindful not to carry too many valuable items or large amounts of cash
• Stick to public transportation routes when you're on the road and carry a mobile phone
• Write a blog, update on social media to let everyone know what you are doing.
After your volunteering placement
• Tell theyoungdentist.com about your dental volunteering experience and we can publish it on our website
• Update your CV to boost your career in dentistry and demonstrate your new skills and experiences.