Golden Opportunities

January 23, 2009

Physician retirees face unique challenges when looking for volunteer options, but their skills are needed.

Physician retirees, with plenty of free time and a vast bank of medical knowledge and experience, can be ideal candidates to volunteer with the dozens of medical mission organizations around the world.

Yet despite their skills and availability, many retirees aren’t inclined--or able--to travel the globe, traipsing through remote regions to treat hundreds of patients of every age and condition.

One organization that addresses this problem is Hilton Head, South Carolina-based Volunteers in Medicine, a national network of free clinics that uses retired health-care professionals and community volunteers to offer medical treatment for the uninsured. As of December 2008, there were 71 Volunteers in Medicine clinics in 23 states with more than 7,500 medical and non-medical volunteers.

VIM recommends retired physicians volunteer a minimum of a half-day per week, but they are permitted to contribute as their schedule allows. Volunteer physicians working in VIM clinics are covered by government-backed malpractice insurance, according to Executive Director Amy Hamlin.

“Empowering retired physicians to practice the pure medicine they crave without the business of medicine is the common sense approach that Volunteers in Medicine provides,” she says.

Another organization for retirees to consider is Project Access, which are local networks of volunteer primary and specialty physicians who provide free health care to low-income, uninsured residents. Now with 50 communities participating, you can see if there is a Project Access network near you by clicking here.

Senior Corps, a division of the U.S. government’s Corporation for National and Community Service, offers a searchable online database of local, regional, and state volunteer opportunities for seniors with interest in health and medicine. Go to www.seniorcorps.gov to learn more.