Volunteering in PNG with YWAM Medical Ships; Opportunities for professional development

Andrea Menzies 1

Registered Nurse, Canberra Hospital And Health Services, Canberra, ACT, Australia


Papua New Guinea has significant health challenges; 5 women die in childbirth every day, 1 in 13 children die before the age of five, 84% of the population live in rural areas – making delivery of health and training services a challenge. YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Medical ships are a volunteer organization operating out of Townsville and work in partnership with the PNG National Government to help address these challenges.

The recent acquisition of new ships, equipment and enhanced training opportunities means more primary healthcare, dental and optometry services to more remote regions. The advantages of volunteering with a well established, respected organisation like Medical Ships are augmented by the opportunity to learn from field officers with experience and expertise in the pacific region and PNG.

The twofold purpose of taking leave from a permanent Infection Control position in Canberra to travel to PNG is to develop insight and new skills unavailable in a tertiary healthcare setting and to realise a personal goal of volunteering as a nurse in a developing country.

Time spent with beginning practitioners in healthcare (student participants) and onsite trainees affords opportunities to impart nursing knowledge and skills plus develop relationships which are unique to an in situ experience such as travelling to the provinces of PNG.
The support of Canberra Hospital Healthcare Services Infection Prevention and Control team is acknowledged in pursuit of this volunteering opportunity in 2016.

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