Who are our volunteers?
We have multiple roles for nursing staff, mostly centered around the operating room given that this is mostly a surgical mission. We primarily are looking for staff who routinely work with children although there are roles for adult nursing in our Gynecologic hospital and General Surgery area. Our main jobs are for recovery nurses who care for patients in the recovery room and circulating nurses for assistance in the operating room.
The ideal recovery nurse has specific experience in this capacity or works in the ICU or ER setting, and preferably with children. Equipment can be limited, so experience and comfort in this role is a must.
Circulating nurses perform standard OR assistance in preop care of the patient, helping set up the case in the OR with the scrub assistant, helping Anesthesia, Intraop documentation and supply support, and post op transition to the recovery room.
We are always short staffed in the area of recovery nursing, so this is a job we are always recruiting.
We perform surgery in the field of Plastics, Orthopaedics, General, and Gynecologic surgery. Our main focus is on caring for children, so pediatric specialists are preferred. Occasionally we have room for oral surgeons or other related specialties. The problems we treat are typically those one would see when access to care is limited. Congenital conditions, chronic neuromuscular diseases, and mostly non-acute concerns are what we treat.
We have a regular group who attends the mission so we are not always able to accommodate new surgeon volunteers, but we would always like to hear your interest. Residents and fellows are always welcome to express interest as well given that training is a concomitant goal of our mission.
Anesthesia is provided for the mission by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and Anesthesiologists from all over the United States. All supplies and medications required for anesthesia are collected all year from sales reps, hospitals, pharmacies, Americares and individuals who participate in the mission by donating. Volunteers should be comfortable performing anesthesia on children but also some adults. They should also feel comfortable with anesthesia for facial reconstruction as well as children with neuromuscular disorders. Additional skills that are useful include performing neurologic blocks. Anesthesia residents and fellows also participate in the mission.
In our orthopaedic hospital, we utilize the skills of Physical, Occupation, and Speech therapists. The ideal rehab volunteer would have pediatric experience or be comfortable working with children and their families. Common diagnoses that are seen include microcephaly, cerebral palsy, prematurity, genetic diseases, developmental delay, orthopedic traumas or injuries, congenital malformations, neurological conditions, club foot, hip abnormalities, amputations, and spinal deformities. You should also be comfortable working with translators or be fluent in Spanish.
Physical therapists treat patients in the clinic, provide post op care exercises education, fabricate splints and braces with our orthotist amongst a multitude of other skilled tasks.
For occupation therapy, many pediatric specialists may work mainly with children diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorders, learning disorders, amongst others. Our main focus in Ecuador however, is with neuromuscular disorders. OT's for the mission will need to provide oral motor interventions for feeding problems, Neuro-developmental treatment (NDT) and splint fabrication.
Another large component of our mission is in custom wheelchair fitting, modification, and repair. This team of specialists come from both the PT and OT world as well as a few non-medical volunteers with mechanical backgrounds. Experience in this area is key.
At times we have speech and language therapists who are available to attend and their services are useful for screening preop palate disorders with our surgery team as well as home oral motor education and treatment for our neuromuscular patients.
Last but not least, one of our most important members is our Prosthetist / Orthotist. A huge component of our rehab work is in custom fitting, modification, and repair of orthotics for neuromuscular patients. This job requires ingenuity, inventiveness, patients, and above all, experience. We set up a complete brace shop in the hospital with tools and supplies brought by our volunteers. We always have a need for additional help in this area and certified P&O specialists are preferred. Students and techs in the field with experience are also useful.
Operating Room Personel
Since we are mainly a surgical mission, there is a need for operating room scrub techs, anesthesia techs, and other staff for support of the surgeries. Skilled and experienced scrub techs are preferred, and specifically those used to working in our surgical fields of Plastics, Orthopaedics, General, and Gynecologic surgery.
There are a few roles but important roles for non-medical volunteers such as interpreters, medical assistants for helping keep clinic organized and schedule appointments, help with documentation, and "runners" to help move supplies from one facility to another. Unfortunately, skilled volunteers are still preferred for this role. This is one of our biggest volunteer groups to apply, yet it is one of the least accepted as most of our needs are in the positions outlined above. These non-medical volunteers are usually the occasional spouse or family member who is attending with one of our medical workers although there is not enough space on the mission for everyone to bring a spouse or family member. This is a common request but not one that can typically be accommodated. All volunteers are to be above 18 years unless approved by a board member.