Eight reasons to be a Global Health volunteer

We share stories from our Global Health Partnership volunteers on how global health volunteering can benefit both your personal and professional development.

King’s Health Partners offers a range of volunteering opportunities for clinical and non-clinical staff in the UK and overseas. Our Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships has been working in Somaliland since 2000, Sierra Leone since 2011 and the Kongo Central province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2013.

Why volunteer?

happy staffThere is strong evidence that health partnerships benefit people in low resource settings. Our Sierra Leone partnership, for example, played a key role in the country’s Ebola response and have since worked restoring the country’s first oxygen factory to provide piped high-flow oxygen, reducing mortality rates in the Intensive Care Unit by 20%.

In addition to supporting the local population in our partner countries, our Global Health Volunteering Scheme can benefit you and boost your career. Discover eight additional reasons to volunteer:

  1. Your physical and mental health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, evidence suggests that when you help others, it can promote physiological changes in the brain, linked with happiness. It can also encourage us to be more active, and being active, supports our mind and body wellbeing, as referred to in our Mind & Body toolkit

2. Your leadership skills

Instilling confidence in our people to build strong clinical leadership skills is one of our areas of focus at King’s Health Partners. Laura Semple, NHS General Manager, reflects on her King’s Health Partners Global Health volunteering experience, and the advice she was given to work as an effective healthcare manager:

You have to be the glue that brings the various parts of the system together.

3. Your skills in interdisciplinary team working

King’s Health Partners is committed to building strong teams and global partnerships. Exposure to different ways of working across hospital disciplines can improve team building skills. Lucy Harshorn, a volunteer Hospital Performance Monitor at the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, reflects on her experience leading the referral coordination team in Sierra Leone. This relied on her building communication networks across the hospital for doctors, nurses, midwives and laboratory staff.

4. Your knowledge in innovation and quality improvement

Life in freetown global healthDriving innovation across local care systems and beyond is central to our strategy at King’s Health Partners. The challenge of limited resources often faced by global health volunteers creates opportunities to work innovatively. Linda Jenkins, Nurse Educator at King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, talks about how her colleagues at the Faculty of Nursing in Freetown, Sierra Leone, are inventive when dealing with challenges such as poor conditions in offices and no electricity or water, and how the experience benefited her own knowledge base.

5. Your clinical and teaching experience

One of King’s Somaliland’s Partnership’s key priorities is supporting postgraduate clinical training for local nurses and doctors. Key projects, such as the Safer Surgery, Triage, Early Warning Scores (STEP), recruit volunteers from our partner organisations, with experience in emergency care, to work with Somaliland hospitals on triage. Exposing yourself to different teaching and clinical environments can enrich both your life and work experience.

 6. Our cross-cultural experience

King’s Health Partners works collaboratively locally and globally. Volunteering with the Global Volunteering Scheme provides cross-cultural experience which is central to partnership working. The scheme gives you tangible professional and personal development opportunities.

Linda Jenkins said:

I feel…the experience…helped me and my colleagues to communicate and build relationships, which is the core to partnership working.

Hear more from Linda.

7. Your personal resilience and efficiency

Will Pooley contracted Ebola whilst treating patients in Sierra Leone. He returned to Sierra Leone to support the King’s Health Partners team as soon as he was back to full fitness to strive for:

An increase in the standard of care for Ebola patients [which is] difficult in resource-poor context of countries like Sierra Leone.

 Read more about Will’s story.

8. A renewed energy for taking the challenges in improving NHS patient outcomes

Improving patient outcomes is a fundamental area of focus for King’s Health Partners. Learning about different ways of working across the globe can help revitalise our views and give us the confidence to introduce new techniques to improve patient outcomes in the NHS. Laura Semple, NHS Manager who volunteered in Connaught Hospital, Sierra Leonne, draws on the common issues she experienced both abroad and back home, such as health records management and robust systems for audit and quality improvement. Talking about her experience, Laura said:

I’m enjoying learning about how the Connaught management team is approaching this task and trying to make the best contribution I can.

 Read more about Laura’s experiences on our website. 

Our partners place a high value on supporting staff to volunteer with King’s Health Partners Global Volunteering Scheme as part of their personal learning and development. If you are interested in taking part in King’s Health Partners Global Volunteering Scheme, take a look at the current volunteering opportunities on our website

There are various ways in which NHS organisations can facilitate participation, please contact King’s Global Health Partner’s NHS Engagement Lead, Laura Semple, on laurasempleATnhs.net if you would like to learn more about the options available.