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Ethics and code of conduct for medical volunteering

Participants in a Projects Abroad Medical program experience the challenges of healthcare, with limited resources and facilities, first-hand. They help to provide access to vital medical services and care for thousands of people every year.

Female volunteer during a medical outreach

Our medical placements support specific medical goals for each country, outlined in our Medicine & Healthcare Management Plans, and enable an exchange of medical knowledge and skills. We are committed to ensuring that our Medical projects have a positive impact on the communities in which we work, and that participants behave ethically and responsibly throughout their time on a project.

To ensure that our Medicine & Healthcare Projects make a tangible impact in the communities where we work, Projects Abroad uses the Global Impact Database. This is a secure and anonymous database that allows us to record, monitor, and analyze the work that our staff, project partners, and volunteers do on the ground. The information we gather is used to improve the healthcare services we offer and achieve the long-term goals set out in the Medicine & Healthcare Management Plans.

Our Principles

We use the following principles to inform the expectations and activities of our medical volunteers, interns and placement partners.

Public Health volunteer doing basic checks during a medical outreach

  • Medical ethics and appropriate behaviors are universal. Even if specific medical practices differ from country to country, we expect all our medical volunteers and interns to meet universal standards of medical ethics and behavior.
  • Local medical professionals at our placements are best qualified to make judgements on the treatment of patients, and the level of involvement of medical volunteers and interns.
  • Primary responsibility for the care of the patients lies with local medical professionals at our placements. Volunteers and interns observe and assist only under the supervision and direction of these professionals.
  • Volunteers and interns should only conduct medical procedures or activities they are qualified, experienced and confident to perform.

What we expect of medical volunteers and interns

Our Medical Ethics Policy guides our participants on how to behave on a Medical project. In general, we expect Medical project participants to:

  • Be responsible at all times
  • Observe and learn, and respect the experience and knowledge of local medical professionals
  • Be committed to ensuring the best possible medical care for patients
  • Respect the privacy and wishes of patients and colleagues. In particular, photographs and videos should not be taken or shared (including on social media) without the consent of patients, colleagues and Projects Abroad, and should never reveal sensitive or personal information, including medical conditions or treatments.
  • Be sensitive and mindful of cultural differences, and observe and respect the perspective of local medical professionals and patients.

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