As a neurologist, you´ll have the opportunity to get involved in a number of humanitarian missions, whether for a short amount of time, or for an extended period at the beginning or during the later stages of your career. You could even choose to practice in a developing country if you wanted to, and you have no family members that really need you to stay in your home country. There are, however, better ways than others to get involved. In this article, we´ll cover a few ways, a few reasons why you´d want to do humanitarian work and some inspiring individuals to show you the sort of experience that can be achieved.
You are probably not going to do humanitarian work for an award, but there are certainly some inspiring people who have won awards for their efforts.
In 2015, Dr. Babar Kockhar, MD, MBA, received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association at their Annual Black and Blue Ball. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to patients with neuromuscular disorders, and improved patients´ and families´ quality of life.
Dr. Khokhar, the assistant professor of neurology, created a dedicated clinic at Yale for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He also set up a support group for ALS patients at Gaylord Hospital. He makes home visits to patients that are no longer ambulatory and volunteers at an MDA camp for children.
Dr. Khokhar joined the Department of Neurology after completing a neurology residency and fellowship in Neuromuscular Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital and West Haven VA Medical Center.
He is the Medical Director of Ambulatory Services for Yale Medical Group (YMG) and leads their clinical optimization división, too. He´s also the Director of the Neurology Outpatient Clinics, Chief of the General Neurology Division, and the Director of the Yale MDA-ALS Clinic. His clinical interests include motor neuron disorders and general neurologic diseases.
Dr. Richard Tallman was recognized as Physician Recipient of the 2015 Frist Humanitarian Award at the end of the year. This Austin Diagnostic Clinic neurologist joined the Clinic in 1984. His specialty focus is neuro-oncology, multiple schlerosis and neuromuscular disease.
Dr. Tallman´s work with the Travis County Medical Society’s Project Access Program, a coordinated system of volunteer physician care, hospital care, diagnostic services and medications assistance for the low-income and/or uninsured of Travis County impressed many.
Project Access´ mission is to provide access to appropriate health care services for uninsured people in Travis County. The incomes of the community there are at or below 200% of the Federal poverty level. Dr. Tallman also served as a former member of the Indigent Care Collaborative – a community non-profit group aiming to bring care to the uninsured in Central Texas.
Dr. Tallman was also recognized as an Austin Monthly Top Doctor for two years running and as Texas Monthly Super Doctor from 2004 until 2006 and again in 2010 and 2014.
Formal Opportunities for Neurology Residents to Study Global and Humanitarian Health
How can you get involved in humanitarian work? Nowadays, there´s even a track to get you trained up for the work during your residency.
Aaron Berkowitz, MD, PhD, Tracey Milligan, MD and Tracey Cho, MD, announced that there is a new track for neurology residents in the The American Academy of Neurology in 2015.
They argue that many residents that participate in rotations abroad are oftentimes inadequately prepared and poorly supported. A new track in global and humanitarian health has been developed to provide a structured curriculum designed for resource-limited setting, which includes components such as:
- Mentored, longitudinal experience in a resource-limited setting abroad that can be beneficial to both the host institution and the resident.
- Mentored, longitudinal experience in a similar but domestic setting.
- A mentored education, research or quality improvement project in collaboration with a foreign or national institution where the experience has been sought.
- Participation in academic global health conferences, lectures and other educational activities outside of those related to neurology.
The authors report that residents will be paired with a mentor at the beginning of their second year of their neurology residency, in order to develop a 2-year plan to achieve the above goals.
Funding support comes from within the residency program, or from mentor support if residents are working on a particular project that already has funding. Here´s more detail about the track.
Iraqi Refugees at High Risk of Neurologic Disorders
Why would you want to get involved in humanitarian work? Because the world really needs you!
Approximately 1 in 6 Iraqi refugees that seek medical assistance is diagnosed with a neurologic disorder, according to a study presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The refugees with a neurologic diagnosis self-reported a history of torture 60 times more often that those without a neurologic diagnosis.
“The objective of this study was to look specifically among those people receiving health and humanitarian assistance and to determine their burden of neurologic disorders and what specifically those disorders are,” said Dr. Mateen, a neurologist and student in International Health at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Dr. Mateen and the other investigators recorded registered refugees’ information, including age, gender, number of medical visits, medical procedures required and referrals to specialists, disabilities, and resettlement status.
There were 36,953 registered Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers in Jordan in 2010; neurologic diagnoses were uncovered in 1,295 refugees, which accounts for 4% of all registered Iraqi refugees. “The total data set had a mean age of 37 years, and 49% were male,” Dr. Mateen stated. “Among the people studied that had neurologic disorders, the mean age was slightly higher at 43 years old, and 46% were female.”
Some of the most common neurologic diagnoses were back pain (30.5%), headache (13.4%), epilepsy (12.9%), nerve root and plexus disorders (10.0%), cervical disc disorders (7.2%), and other cerebrovascular disease (4.3%). A total of 7,642 received health assistance, 17% of whom sought medical assistance for neurologic disorders.
We have established several residency tracks to provide residents the opportunity to develop their interests in research, medical education, global health and healthcare management early in their careers.
Yale Investigative Neurology Program (YINP)
This is a unique training opportunity through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). We offer up to 2 positions per year, to rare candidates who have both extensive research experience and a clear vision for a career in research. Residents in this program will be provided additional protected time for research, and an additional 12 months of funded research time in a PGY-5 year if desired. To learn more about this program, clinic here.
Clinical Neuroscientist Training Program (CNSTP)
Residents who have not matched into the YINP will have the opportunity to enter this program, which is an NIH-funded R25 program providing up to 24 months of protected research time, with at least 6 months of protected research in the PGY-4 year and the remainder completed during a post-residency research fellowship. Candidates are selected on a competitive basis at the beginning of the PGY-3 year. For more information, click here.
Residents with a strong interest in careers in neurology education can choose to enter this track at the start of their PGY-3 year. In this track, residents will have the opportunity to use elective time for medical education training, education research and/or the development of educational tools or programs. To find out more, click here.
Global Neurology Track
Residents with a strong interest in careers in global health and neurology can choose to enter this track at the start of their PGY-3 year. In this track, residents will have the opportunity to use elective time for travel abroad and global neurology research. To find out more, click here.
Healthcare Management Track
Residents with a strong interest in careers in healthcare management can choose to enter this track at the start of the their PGY-2 year. In this track, residents will have the opportunity to use elective time to participate in healthcare management projects. To find out more, click here.