Globally there exist significant inequities in access to medical care—and in many places basic public health needs are not being met. Our commitment to structurally vulnerable populations has led us to consider the needs beyond our own borders and to contribute our time and energy in a thoughtful way to help address this problem.
In recent years, residents and faculty traveled to the following countries to do medical work, participate in public health projects, and provide education about family medicine where it does not yet exist as a specialty:
- New Zealand
The Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency provides opportunities for residents to experience medical work abroad through annual group trips lasting about 10 days. Residents also have a four week long elective in the third year that is free of call, offering interested residents the freedom to plan their own international experience.
As an organization, we are committed to projects that are socially responsible—ones that attempt to develop systems of care that are inclusive of local people and not solely reliant on episodic appearances by foreign medical personnel; that assess and respond to public health and hygiene needs; and that address other basic human needs such as education, without which lasting change may not be possible. Ideally, we hope to work with the same communities over time to provide continuity of care and to effect more significant change.
Most recently, we began working with Shoulder to Shoulder (Hombro a Hombro)—a private, non-profit, non-government organization founded in 1998—which serves the rural area of Intibucá, Honduras and is dedicated to sustainable and accessible health, nutrition, and education services. Our inaugural trip in partnership with this organization took place in the spring of 2015.