This past November, Dr. Maria Chansky went on her fourth medical mission, this time to Haiti. The Haiti mission was made possible through a generous grant from the Making a Difference Foundation in partnership with International Medical Relief, enabling five physicians and several support staff members to travel to and within Haiti for eight days, giving of their time and skills to those most in need of medical and dental care.
Every day, the team set up at a different site in order to treat as many people as possible.
“We had to figure out how to use the site effectively, had to figure out where the dentists were going to be, where the primary care providers were going to be, where the patient education was going to be, where the pharmacy was going to be,” says Dr. Chansky. “Really, we had to work together to organize, lay things out, and move benches and equipment.”
Dr. Chansky says the whole team stepped up wonderfully, making the logistics and delivery of care a smooth process that benefited a lot of Haitians.
Life in Haiti
Even though Dr. Chanksy has seen other places devastated by natural disasters, one thing that struck her about Haiti was how destroyed parts of it still are from the 2010 earthquake.
“There are almost like two Haitis,” says Dr. Chansky. “There’s the group of people in Haiti who still have places to live and still have work, but then there are people whose neighborhoods were completely destroyed by the earthquake — and they’re living in refugee camps, and their neighborhoods haven’t been rebuilt. It’s been eight years and they still have nothing. It seems like the people who were really devastated by the earthquake, their situation hasn’t really changed or improved much, which is heartbreaking.”
Dr. Chansky adds: “The incredibly huge line of patients who were waiting to be seen spoke to the importance of what we were doing.”
Putting medical skills to good use
Dr. Chansky says that she is drawn to these missions in order to give back to those most in need.
“I like working with the disenfranchised populations, learning about them, seeing what life is like in different places, and serving people who need my services. I really enjoy working with people and getting to know them and doing something that hopefully makes a difference in their life,” she explains. “From a purely selfish point of view, I get to travel to places that perhaps I wouldn’t go to otherwise and meet people who I wouldn’t otherwise meet, and I really enjoy that.”
This desire to help those who most need medical care is part of why Dr. Chansky has worked as a locum tenens physician at various times throughout her 21-year career. She worked three years in New Zealand, plus a couple years of full-time locum tenens in the continental U.S.
“The clinics that are hiring locums are the clinics that are probably in the greatest need, and so I’m filling the role and providing a service,” she explains.
She also likes locums because she enjoys traveling and meeting people. The third thing she likes about locum tenens is the flexibility.
“I have a lot of flexibility as far as where I am and when, so if my husband’s parents or my parents had some kind of emergency I could get locums work close to them,” Dr. Chansky explains.
She says that flexibility also meant that when she was working locums, she could be in a certain place at a certain time of the year to experience something unique to that area — or to take time off for a holiday or family gathering. Locums also allowed her to set her own schedule, decide where she wanted to work, and work fewer hours than a long-term position.
Dr. Chansky says that she encourages other physicians to consider locums if they are looking for more flexibility, travel opportunities, and want to use their medical skills where they are most needed.
She also encourages physicians to sign up for a medical mission to see life through others’ eyes and give back.
Inspired to make a difference through a medical mission? The Making a Difference Foundation partners with world-class nonprofits to provide physicians the opportunity to participate in meaningful medical missions to make a difference around the globe. Visit them to learn more about medical mission opportunities.
Gerry Carpenter is the managing editor for CHG Healthcare. He is a 20-year marketing veteran who loves to write, edit, and play with words. He enjoys visiting new places, speaks fluent French, and is slowly learning Portuguese and Japanese.