Emilie Myers is a Sydney based Hand Physiotherapist who started volunteering as a student. She first worked in rural India 22 years ago. She was later a clinical supervisor in India for the University of Sydney. She has subsequently spent the last 15 years working in Fiji with Orthopaedic Outreach.
Her time in Fiji has involved over 20 trips to Lautoka & Ba Hospital, as well as two teaching trips to Suva. She travels with her husband, who is a hand surgeon and their two young children each trip.
Emilie co-ordinates a large (14+) Hand Surgical team from Sydney. The team also includes Hand therapists as well as students. She liaises with the local Physiotherapists, and all other relevant surgical staff in Fiji. Donations are gathered in NSW and packed by the team. Much of this is freighted ahead, but the essentials still travel with them.
The logistics are complex and vary from area to area. For Fiji, volunteers need to be locally registered, and the relevant local staff must approve of and be fully informed of the trip. Emilie organises the patients for outpatient clinics and relevant surgical cases are booked. A digital clinical log is set up for the Orthopaedic Outreach volunteers to use for their record keeping. The focus is on local teaching and assisting with the caseload in any way we can. In 2019, we are establishing a new Hand Therapy clinic at Ba Hospital.
Emilie is committed to assisting any interested AHTA volunteers in any way she can. She has run an audit of AHTA volunteers in the past, and she encourages the sharing of information to make the volunteering process as effective as possible.
While Emilie’s personal experience is with Orthopaedic Outreach, other organisations such as Interplast do also take Hand therapists from time to time. If you are interested in volunteering, get in touch with Emilie anytime by email, and she will assist you.
As an association, the AHTA considers it a great privilege to be able to support volunteers, and help share knowledge with other therapists around the world. Volunteering is so very rewarding on many personal and professional levels and we can only encourage you to be involved.