Volunteerism is Global Health

  • Crawford, Ana, MD, MSc, FASA
| Jul 06, 2021

ana-crawford_profilephotoAs a member of the ASA-Global Humanitarian Outreach (ASA-GHO) committee, I was recently asked by the representation of retired ASA members for ideas on how to facilitate opportunities for Anesthesiologists no longer in practice. It spurred a realization that there are likely many CSA members seeking opportunities to give back. Initiatives and programs often target our youngest members and trainees, so I am delighted to see the formation of a committee engaging retired members, a powerful group of teachers and advocates for safe and effective peri-operative and critical care. We should harness the engagement of our most experienced colleagues in any way possible. 

With travel restrictions and a pandemic, many discovered opportunities to innovate through developing virtual programs to continue engagement with remote programs.  The pandemic’s lens also magnified obvious health disparities within our own healthcare systems in the United States. In addition to partnerships abroad, ‘global’ is inclusive of local, regional, and national, so includes the development of local volunteerism as much as volunteering abroad.  Daily we see vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in our communities, our schools, our prisons, in our streets and under our bridges. Homeless tent encampments have an uncanny resemblance to slums and ghettos historically associated with far off places. Volunteerism and philanthropy also bring us a sense of purpose - a large component of physician wellness regardless of career stage.

Here are just a few opportunities available to ASA and CSA members, whether residents, fellows, faculty, or retired:

  1. Participate in ASA-GHO remote education programs: The ASA-GHO has programs in both Rwanda and Guyana. These programs are now remote with online webinars, case-discussions, and didactics. Both programs would welcome additional volunteers to teach or participate as co-panelists during webinars. https://www.asahq.org/gho/ghoprograms/overseastrainingprograms

  2. Volunteer as Faculty for the Incarcerated: Incarceration can and should be an opportunity to improve education and civil engagement. Mount Tamalpais is always looking for faculty to teach basic STEM classes. https://www.mttamcollege.org/academics/faculty/

  3. Engage with your local 211: 211 (similar to 911) is a number anyone can call from anywhere in the USA. 211 helps community members with social needs and barriers. It is well recognized that social barriers are often determinants of health outcomes. There are ways to fundraise and promote the services 211 provides. Volunteers should simply engage with their local county's branch. https://www.211.org

  4. Global Health Education through California Academic Anesthesia Programs: Many of the academic training programs in California have robust global health programs. Their work has been featured in the CSA Vital Times in 20202019 and 2018. Global Health programs often have academic partners in limited-resource settings that are now dependent upon remote learning to continue. CSA members can reach out to these programs and volunteer as teachers and educators to ensure the continued success of these programs.

  5. Medical Board of California Volunteer Physician Registry: Sign up for the state volunteer registry to help California clinics and hospitals in need. https://www.mbc.ca.gov/VPR/

  6. California Medical Assistance Team: Sign up for the California Emergency Medical Services Authority. https://emsa.ca.gov/cal-mat-phase-i-registration/

  7. Learn about and Support California’s Native American Tribes: http://nahc.ca.gov/resources/california-indian-history/

  8. Support California Health Programs for Indian Health Service: https://www.ihs.gov/california/index.cfm/health-programs/health-programs/

Whether starting out as an anesthesia trainee or wrapping up a long career, physician anesthesiologists have a specialized, invaluable, skillset benefiting patients, communities, and healthcare systems in many ways. From educating other anesthesiologists, to lowering the social barriers, to strengthening emergency response systems, any engagement can be valuable and benefit the lives of others. Opportunities to make an impact are available throughout our careers and thereafter – helping our patients, our communities, and our own wellbeing.





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