Though my travel is not work-related and it is not employer assigned, my work schedule allowed me to travel extensively. I work several long days in a row to build up time off to travel. I’ve done all of my traveling while working a full time job as a dental surgeon in Singapore. I often work 12-hour days (including evenings, weekends, and public holidays) for weeks of consecutive days in order to accumulate several days or weeks of vacation time. I even used short weekends to travel to nearby countries or destinations. If I had only two days off I would take a trip to Indonesia, Malaysia, another nearby country with a cheap direct flight to Singapore.
I did use my dental and medical skills to help numerous people throughout the last four years while traveling.
For example, when visiting Socotra, I was told about three young siblings who were losing their teeth at an alarming rate. I was able to diagnose that they had the very rare genetic medical condition - Papillion Levfre Syndrom. Collaborating with a top Oral Pathologists, we wrote and submitted an article--which is now pending submission to the Pediatric International Journal-- to raise concern and support for continued research in order to cure this rare condition.
In Syria, I presented as a featured speaker at their 16th International Scientific Conference. It was great to see this country continuing to improve the health care despite the ongoing crisis that exists. Making presentations can help hundreds of patients. It feels good because by teaching other dentists new ways to help people, their efforts become more efficient and beneficial for all of their patients. I truly enjoy interacting with other dentists,, answering questions, and giving demonstrations. I, too, have learned from others.
When I planned my trip to Pitcairn, local leaders found out I was a dentist and asked if I would be able to treat the local residents. As one Pitcairn native put it “You are the most popular tourist we have ever had visit” – likely due to the fact that I treated nearly half the population (including the mayor of Pitcairn) while I was visiting the island.
These are just a few of the examples of times I was able to provide dental work when I was traveling; however, I have taken advantage of countless opportunities to help others. Though my goal while traveling was to see, experience, and learn about the country, I also tried to help where I saw a need–and everywhere in the world there is need.