Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Dr. Johnstone

Earlier this year, Dr. Anna Johnstone volunteered at the MedGlobal clinic in Cucuta, Colombia and at the Colombia Brigade to El Talento. As we celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the Cucuta clinic, we are proud to highlight Dr. Johnstone as a part of our diverse team making a difference all over the world!

Where are you located and what is your profession?
I currently work at the Balfour Hospital in Orkney, which is a group of islands off the North coast of Scotland. I work as a locum junior doctor, covering all acute services, including the emergency department, acute medical and surgical team, and the high dependency unit.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
In the current climate with COVID-19, I think the main event that I am hoping to witness is the release of a successful and effective vaccine programme for COVID-19! Let’s hope it’s not too far in the future!

How would your friends describe you?
I would hope they would say I am driven in my work, and also take time for my friendships and social life. I have often been described as a very direct person – which at times I am not sure if that is a good thing!

Who inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My grandparents were both doctors and I think they are big inspirations for me. My granny went to medical school in the 1930s when less than 30% of medical school graduates were women. They both worked in Orkney as general practitioners and looked after their community. They also had a never ending list of visitors in their house, and many infamous parties. Their balance of care for the community and great social lives is something I would like to achieve!

What countries have you volunteered in?
I have done a trip with MedGlobal to Colombia. I volunteered in Ethiopia with a facial surgical charity called Project Harar. I volunteered in Madagascar with a marine conservation charity called Blue Ventures. 

Why do you volunteer?
I have been given the most amazing opportunity through training as a doctor to be able to help people. Volunteering allows me to use this training to support people in situations where they would otherwise have no access. It also develops my own learning and I feel improves my care for patients both here in Scotland, and in my volunteering role. 

It also gives me the opportunity to travel around the world, and meet like-minded people. 

Which is your most memorable moment on a MedGlobal trip?
My trip to Colombia in February 2020 was my first trip with MedGlobal and it was fantastic. I learnt so much from the team I was working with, and the care we were able to provide for the patients was great. 

After volunteering, how has your perception of the Global Health crises changed?
I think the main thing that I have taken from my short global health career is that people don’t need anything fancy or glamorous with their medical care. They need their blood pressure to be checked, they need counseling on family planning, and they need someone to talk to about their anxiety. By providing a general and basic level of care, you are taking one step towards helping them get through the rest of their lives, which is invariably difficult and often out of both their and your control.

Thank you for being a part of the MedGlobal community, Dr. Johnstone!