Overseas Physiotherapy Volunteer Projects
Volunteering overseas on a physiotherapy project is an opportunity to develop personal and professional skills and gain a broader perspective on the profession within a different culture and setting. It offers many challenges to students and professionals alike, while providing a practical benefit to the local people.
The roles and settings vary enormously, from large multi-disciplinary hospitals to community outreach programmes; working with conditions such as cerebral palsy, clubfoot and spinal injuries.
One of the great challenges in these programmes is adapting to the tools available and new colleagues to become a valuable team member. Volunteering in a developing country gives a unique cultural and work experience, a constructive and giving role from which the volunteer gains new skills and perspective.
Volunteer Physiotherapy Projects Offer the Chance to:
- Acquire first-hand experience of healthcare in a developing country
- Learn new techniques in working with new and familiar conditions
- Develop problem solving, reasoning, observation and communication skills
- Make a constructive and positive contribution to the setting
- Build rapport, share knowledge and skills with local staff
- Gain an invaluable cultural experience and perspective on your profession
Physiotherapy Volunteers Work in Hospitals and Community Settings
Your role will vary by placement and your experience. We encourage you to use your initiative and be proactive; this will ensure you get a great degree of involvement in the care of the patients.
Every setting is different, in terms of the supervision and guidance, the conditions of the patients, the resources available and the expectations of you. Hence your role may be very hands on, or more observational. You would never be expected to do something that you were uncomfortable with and we will take care in placing you at the most appropriate setting.
You will need to adapt to very different work practices, conditions and fit into a local team. Many people pinpoint this process as being of lasting value. There is much to learn by giving your skills and time in developing countries, and with some thought you can identify a productive role which is rewarding, constructive and educational.
Students and professional physiotherapists volunteer with children and adults with disabilities at rehabilitation centres in countries such as Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia; in hospitals and clinics in India, Nepal, Ghana and Tanzania among many other settings.
The Experience of Physiotherapy Volunteers Overseas
“During my time in Nepal I was able to try my hand at practical things I hadn’t yet learnt to do in Australia, such as making a dynamic splint. The hospital was under-resourced, so the splint was made using items such as an old coat hanger and elastic bands, but nevertheless the treatment goal was the same as it would be in Australia. I experienced life as a physio in another country, and also got to network with physio students from all around the world (which was so interesting). I was surprised to discover that across the world – despite socioeconomic differences – physiotherapy is very similar, especially in the way of treatment techniques.”
Physiotherapy in Nepal
You can read more stories from physiotherapy volunteer here.