By Robert Kalb, MD
I’ve long been a believer in the power of education to lift someone out of poverty, so in 2006 I began looking for opportunities to volunteer my dermatologic health expertise. Through the Academy, I found the perfect outlet: the Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO).
the Academy works with HVO to match dermatologists with overseas volunteer opportunities. Through this program, volunteers train local health care providers, giving them the knowledge adn skills to make a difference in their own communities. Assignments are usually around two weeks but are flexible.
HVO focuses on teaching and training local providers in several developing countries, with opportunities for dermatologists in Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Peru, and Uganda. Since 2006, I’ve traveled to Cambodia on four separate occasions to help bolster educational opportunities for medical students in that country. I plan my travel during the holiday break in December, so that my family can volunteer at local schools, as well. Volunteers focus on meeting the needs of the host country and creating programs that are sustainable and build local capacity.
Cambodia only has one dermatologist in the whole country, so there is a great need for our skills and expertise.
In Cambodia, I work with Sithach Mey, MD, the only native Cambodian board-certified dermatologist in the country, to help train the medical students and residents in the region. I find it very valuable to to experience the delivery of dermatologic and general health care in another country and what people struggle with outside of the developed world.
Since 2008, I have served as the site’s program director. In this role, I’m responsible for coordinating volunteer visits withe HVO for this rewarding program. Active or retired dermatologists and final-year residents are eligible.
As I have noted, Cambodia only has one fully trained dermatologist in the whole country, so there is a great need for our skills and expertise. I can attest the experience is challenging and rewarding. You will receive a warm welcome and come away having learned as much as you have taught. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 630-1102.
Dr. Kalb is a clinical professor of dermatology at the State University of New York in Buffalo and is in private practice with the Buffalo Medical Group. He was recently awarded HVO’s Golden Apple Award (see sidebar) and was previously awarded the AAD Members Making a Difference Award for his work in Cambodia.