Operation Giving Back provides array of volunteer opportunities

Operation Giving Back (OGB) is a program of the Division of Member Services at the American College of Surgeons (ACS). OGB’s mission is to “leverage the passion, skills, and humanitarian ethos of the surgical community to effectively meet the needs of the medically underserved.” Through a variety of activities, OGB provides opportunities for ACS members of all specialties to engage in humanitarian outreach internationally and domestically. This article highlights some of these initiatives and provides information on how to become involved.

OGB Volunteer Database

The OGB Volunteer Database provides a platform for individuals and organizations to partner with the OGB to engage in international humanitarian work. Volunteers have access to a database of opportunities from partner organizations, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and hospitals around the world.

The database contains dozens of active volunteer opportunities to explore, including an ongoing project in Iraq, a resident volunteer position in Tanzania this September, and a surgical mission trip to Honduras in May 2020. Opportunities exist across levels of training and specialties. To view listings or to register, go to the Volunteer and Partner Portal.

ACS-COSECSA collaborations

The ACS has partnered with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) on a number of projects. Examples are as follows.

ACS-COSECSA Surgical Training Collaborative

In January 2019, the ACS-COSECSA Surgical Training Collaborative launched its inaugural hub in Hawassa, Ethiopia. A total of 13 participating U.S. academic institutions are deploying faculty to Hawassa on a monthly basis to provide training and support to local surgical residents and faculty. The goal of the consortium is to strengthen the surgical care system in Hawassa through research, quality, education, and service activities, and ultimately to establish a regional surgical training hub. If your institution is interested in being considered as a partner for a future hub, contact Sadie Bazur-Leidy at ogb@facs.org.

Annual COSECSA Examinations

Each year, COSECSA recruits surgeon volunteers to administer annual examinations to graduates at the organization’s December meeting. If you are interested in this opportunity, contact Ms. Bazur-Leidy at ogb@facs.org. Preferred specialties include general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, urology, pediatric surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and neurosurgery.

ACS-Puerto Rico Project

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico, the ACS sent a delegation of surgeons to determine how best to address the surgical needs of the population. After significant planning, partnership building, and local input, our first volunteer surgeon arrived in San Juan, PR, this spring. In collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Hurricane MARIA, Inc., the United Clergy Task Force, and other local partners, this project is facilitating a consistent mobilization of volunteer surgeons to address a significant backlog of surgical cases. The patient population is specified as those who are uninsured or underserved, focusing on immigrants primarily from the Dominican Republic. If you are interested in contributing to this effort by spending a week or more on the island, contact Ms. Bazur-Leidy at ogb@facs.org.

Health Career Collaborative

Although African and Hispanic Americans are among the fastest growing segments of the population, they are underrepresented in the health care workforce at all occupation levels. The Health Career Collaborative (HCC) is a three-year pathway program for high school students from low-income and ethnic and racial minority communities. Program goals include increasing academic achievement, health literacy, and interest in health care careers for at-risk high school students. Medical students and faculty serve as volunteer program mentors and instructors. The program is initiated as a partnership between a medical school and a local, underserved high school. The HCC provides validated, web-accessible, easily reproducible curricula intended to minimize preparation time required by volunteers and increase potential for participation.

The HCC operates in 13 cities with involvement from ACS Fellows, with expansion sites regularly identified. For additional information or to become involved, go to the HCC website or contact Liana Gefter, MD, Program Director, at lianagefter@gmail.com.

Clinical Congress 2019

Each year at Clinical Congress, OGB provides a variety of Didactic Courses, Panel Sessions, and meetings to discuss the global engagement initiatives of the ACS and to prepare residents and surgeons for careers in global surgery. A selection of offerings this October includes the following:

Register online for Clinical Congress 2019 and learn more about what will be offered.

Committee on Global Engagement

The Committee on Global Engagement through OGB provides support for the development and implementation of initiatives through the following subcommittees: Domestic Engagement, International Engagement, Advocacy, and Education. The committee is accepting applications for informal subcommittee positions. To apply, send a curriculum vitae and an outline of your global health experience to Ms. Bazur-Leidy at ogb@facs.org.

For more information on OGB and how to become involved with volunteer efforts, contact Ms. Bazur-Leidy at ogb@facs.org or visit the OGB web page.

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