Volunteer Program In India
Read reports from volunteers about
their experiences by
The Christian Medical College
in Vellore, India (CMC)
is a major
college and teaching hospital in South India
which welcomes health professionals from around
the world as volunteers .
What each volunteer can do
will vary with the needs of the hospital and college and
the level of expertise offered. CMC is on the cutting edge
of medicine in India with a number of firsts from the
first open heart surgery and first kidney transplant in
India to the first to find HIV in an Indian and to
introduce routine blood screening for the virus in India.
CMC is also recognized for its research, and five of the 11 Indian
labs named as Centers of Excellence by the Indian Council of Medical Research are at CMC
in Vellore. Its Community Health programs, CHAD, RUSHA, and CONCH are internationally
Considering its goal for excellence in its mission to provide the
best possible care to the disabled, the disadvantaged and those least able to afford
quality care, particularly women and children, CMC is especially interested in health care
professionals who can offer a high level of expertise and have a genuine desire to make a
contribution to the truly needy and less fortunate.
As a major hospital and medical college, there are possibilities in
all areas of health care. The program, however, is a strictly volunteer one in which
the volunteer pays all his/her own costs including transportation to and from Vellore,
lodging and living expenses. (Relatively inexpensive lodging is usually
available on campus.)
The Vellore Foundation helps expedite the program for volunteers from
North America by providing information and communications between the volunteer and CMC
staff. Volunteers in the U.K. should contact the
U.K. Friends of
Vellore, while those in Australia can contact the
Friends of Vellore Volunteers in other parts of the world can contact
Those North Americans interested in volunteering should write the
U.S. Foundation detailing their professional background (send a C.V.), and indicate, in a
covering letter, what they would like to do at CMC, when they would like to go and for how
long. Volunteers can go for any length of time from a few days for a highly specialized
lecture or help in some procedure to several months. Generally, because of visa
restrictions, the longest period is six months.
The government of India does not encourage hands on practice of
medicine by non-nationals, especially those physicians who are "tourists."
Medical registration (licensure) is generally not being granted to visitors or tourists .
. . this is not a problem for most other health professionals. Volunteers can contribute
in a wide variety of fulfilling and valuable ways including doctors who can participate in
rounds and clinics, see patients and advise on care, give lectures, and participate in
Once the U.S. Foundation office receives information from the potential
volunteer, it sends it to CMC where the staff in the appropriate department is brought
into the process, evaluating the need and the volunteer's potential contribution. The
staff then considers the mutual benefits of the potential experience for both the
department and the volunteer, the activity in the department at that time and whether
housing is available. The staff then extends an invitation to the volunteer if and when it
determines that the experience is a viable, feasible one.
If you would like to volunteer, or would like further information
about the program, you can e-mail us at
Please be sure to include your postal address or write our
York office. If interested, we can also put you in contact with a number of former
volunteers who can tell you more about the experience on a first hand basis. If you
contact the Vellore Foundation office we'll try to connect you with someone in your discipline
who has been to CMC/Vellore for more personal information. The office also has a number of
books about CMC's history, its mission, and the people who have been associated with it.
There are many ways to contribute.
photograph is by volunteer Marge Gieser who was able to contribute her talent as an
artist at CMC by painting murals in the Children's' Ward. Mrs.
Gieser accompanied her husband, Dr. Richard Gieser, an
ophthalmologist who volunteered at the Eye Hospital. So, while
volunteers to CMC Vellore are mainly health care professionals, there
non-medical professionals who find other ways
to contribute to the work there.
Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), which sends
volunteers to many places around the globe, has an ongoing program with the
Christian Medical College, Vellore, sponsoring volunteers to CMC in
the fields of Dentistry, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, and Anesthesia. The HVO program
primarily focuses on education and training at CMC. Volunteers serve for two to four