A career in conflict and disaster medicine
Doctors on the front line
- By: Anna Sayburn
For many people, doctors who work in conflict and disaster zones are heroes. There’s a sense of glamour about those people who take their skills to the most dangerous and difficult places to practise medicine. Yet the quality that some experienced doctors in this field think they need above all others is not heroism, but humility.
Conflict and disaster medicine entails providing immediate and ongoing medical care to people caught up in natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes in Nepal, epidemics such as the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, and armed conflicts around the world. Doctors often find themselves working in makeshift field hospitals, setting up refugee camps for displaced people fleeing violence or disaster, and tending to everything from major trauma to seasickness in deeply uncomfortable conditions.
This is not a branch of medicine with a clear career ladder, yet despite the challenges conflict and disaster medicine remains