Optometrist and Ophthalmologist Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer optometrists and ophthalmologists apply their skills and training to provide eye care to patients alongside the local eye doctors. Optometrists share knowledge and skills with local optometrists and ophthalmic nurses, while ophthalmologists provide surgical training and skills transfer to local ophthalmologists.
Increasing numbers of Unite For Sight ophthalmologist and optometrist volunteers are bringing their high school, college, and graduate school children to accompany them to the Unite For Sight program. The students participate as standard Global Impact Fellows, while the optometrists and ophthalmologists work with the local eye clinic staff to provide optometric and ophthalmic services. For those interested in bringing a high school student, read Priya Srinivasan's perspective as a high school student.
Qualifying as an optometrist or ophthalmologist volunteer requires that the participant be a fully licensed, fully trained and practicing optometrist or ophthalmologist. Ophthalmology residents, for example, are not fully trained nor fully licensed and therefore qualify as a standard volunteer.
Free Airline Tickets For Optometrists and Ophthalmologists
Emirates Airline Foundation, in conjunction with the airline's frequent flyer program "Skywards" (http://www.skywards.com), has generously donated roundtrip economy class airfares for optometrists and ophthalmologists to work with Unite For Sight's partner eye clinics in Ghana. Ophthalmologists participating for at least 2 weeks, and optometrists participating for at least 4 weeks, are eligible for the donated airline tickets. In order to qualify for donated airline tickets, optometrists and ophthalmologists must be fully licensed, practicing eye care professionals. Ophthalmology residents are not eligible for the donated airline tickets.
Available Program Dates and Locations
Optometrists and ophthalmologists may participate for at least 7 days up to one month or more, depending on location, and program arrival and departure dates are somewhat flexible based on the eye clinic's schedule.
What Are The Requirements and Other Participation Details?
Please find complete details online at http://www.uniteforsight.org/volunteer-abroad/program-requirements-optometrists-ophthalmologists
Steps To Participate
All prospective volunteers are required to submit the online application. A decision on your application will be made within 3 days of receipt of your application and letters of recommendation. Accepted volunteers receive Unite For Sight's easy-to-use personal login page so that they can keep track of their pre-service progress and access all relevant program-specific details and materials, program manuals, phone numbers, and important links.
Eye Doctors In Their Own Words: Perspectives on Volunteering with Unite For Sight
"I had been involved with some eye care missions over the years (with other organizations) in Mexico, Central and South America, but I really didn’t have an appreciation for what is needed to create a sustainable program until my experience with the Unite For Sight Program in Ghana last August. This was truly sustainability in action, as exemplified by the work of North Western Eye Clinic in Accra in conjunction with Unite For Sight. I found the outreaches to be pretty grueling and work intensive, but this is what is required to have a successful program. After seeing 100-200 patients on any given day, and witnessing the cataract surgeries on patients that I had referred, the positive results of this approach were obvious; the barriers to accessing the needed health care had been demonstrably overcome."
"The UFS experience was unique for me since I was able to accompany my daughter, Lauren. I had been on several missions previously, but never with my daughter. I was superbly impressed with the enormous impact it had on her to understand (and experience first hand) the cause of the world health problems especially in the area of eyesight in the impoverished world. The satisfaction gained from providing simple, economical, advanced and humanistic medical care in African countries cannot be underestimated or taken for granted. I am indelibly touched by the kindness and hospitality and the selfless and humanitarian work of the eye clinic; these are fond memories which are incredibly heartfelt. Also kudos to Dr Clarke."
"Unite For Sight is a uniquely conceived, well-run, and well-executed organization that combines the strength of our first world resources -- fundraising and a pool of well educated, motivated volunteers -- with a self-sustaining, established network of local surgeons and health providers that will continue to grow and enhance the quality of care for a population in need on a global scale." Read Dr. Calvin Eng's full narrative.
"Working alongside with Unite For Sight was a unique and tremendously rewarding experience. Prior to my trip, I learned many important points regarding different cultures and the ramifications of providing care in Africa through the modules provided by Unite For Sight. I was fortunate enough to share my experience with my daughter (then a junior in college), and together we felt a strong bond in that we were able to improve not only the patient’s sight, but their quality of life. The people of Ghana, Africa were extremely appreciative of our efforts. Upon our return, we both felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I would recommend volunteering through Unite For Sight for anyone who wants to reach out and help those most in need of care."
"The Sinha family welcomed me into their home, and introduced me to eye care in India. They are lovely people, and shared not just their work, but their stories, laughter and social engagements. They work tirelessly in their clinic and surgical center. In addition, they do a number of outreach and screening clinics to bring eye care to the people and attract them to seek treatment for their eye conditions.
As a cataract surgeon, it was my goal to learn manual small incision cataract surgery (SICS). This is the technique primarily used in underdeveloped countries and on medical trips, and relies on much less technology than techniques we use in developed countries. I was able to do enough surgeries to become comfortable with the technique while I was there. Since then, I have been able to used my new skills in other poor countries. I started an outreach program in a Native Indian community near where I live. I had previously thought that the lack of resources in the community would make it impossible to do an effective exam. The Sinhas taught me that even with a basic exam, trust, word of mouth and relationships can be formed, which has ultimately improved eye care in this community. I would encourage other physicians to take advantage of and learn from such an experience. With an open mind, we can all learn to be more generous in our own communities and beyond!"
"The dedication of the clinic staff, the ophthalmologists, and Unite For Sight really made me proud as a volunteer to be part of such amazing work. I've shared so many laughs, tears, smiles and more with the wonderful Northwestern and Crystal Eye Clinic teams and accompanying volunteers. It left me wanting more, so I returned a year later, and it was just as exciting and another immense learning experience. What I learned could not be taught, only experienced: the meaning of dedication, the value of human life, and above all, I learned and saw how I dealt with situations totally alien to my experience in practice. I'm so grateful for the chance and insight that I have gained. I learned more about myself than I could have thought. Thank you, I truly left a changed and better person for it. I would recommend volunteering with Unite For Sight. If you're thinking about it, do it, do something amazing and gain from it, like I did. Read Maya's "Reflections on Volunteering Twice in Ghana"
"It was terrific to work with my Ghanaian counterparts. I worked with two doctors, and I found both of them to be extraordinarily talented, extraordinary humanitarians, with boundless energy. These are doctors who work enormous numbers of hours under difficult conditions, seeing an extraordinary array of pathology and a huge number of patients per day, their energy is tireless, their idealism is inspiring. I was really quite amazed how their level of energy to carry out this level of work on a regular basis. In addition, they had a wonderful sense of humor, and they were light with patients. It is not easy being a doctor around very sick patients. Patients look to you for a tremendous amount of support, and you alone realize what some of the risks are taking care of that patient, and they maintain an ability to do terrific level work at the same time as be a resource for strength among their patients, and I think that is an incredible combination. I was very, very impressed."