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The role of medicine is to provide medical services that support the health and wellbeing of individuals. The capability of individuals to access medical services is highly important as it determines how efficient the field of medicine is in accomplishing its roles and responsibilities as a valuable member of society. To address this issue, medicine has become flexible enough to consider issues of medical services access and availability even under the most difficult circumstances; hence, the establishment of remote medicine and offshore medicine as a means to widen medical accessibility and availability. (“Wilderness Medicine,” 2008)
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The work environment of remote and offshore medicine is highly constricted with the lack of adequate resources and physical space needed by medical professionals or practitioners. The distinctive nature of remote and offshore medicine cause difficulties and pose several risks or threats that endanger the lives of medical professionals or practitioners or place them in an uncomfortable position. Remote and offshore medicine requires the deployment of medical professionals and practitioners to areas or locations that are unknown to them. In my case, I am currently deployed to practice medicine in Iraq.
There are particular issues or concerns that I have in mind when I think about the circumstances that might happen during my stay in Iraq. Being deployed in an unfamiliar location creates stress and pressure in terms of adjusting to new environments and facing unexpected or unlikely situations that are entirely different from the usual work environment. Stress and pressure will greatly impose constraints to my practice is it influences the stability and rationality of emotions, points of view, composure, and professionalism in dealing with medical cases.
Stress and pressure are brought about by many factors that materialize with one’s immersion to a completely foreign physical and cultural environment.
For instance, being in a secluded area wherein resources for providing medical services are scarce results to anxiety and unease in terms of being confident about providing quality medical services. It defeats the purpose of medicine, such that medical professionals and practitioners will become unable to cure illnesses or save lives that are at risk without necessary tools or equipment. Another reason for stress and pressure that influences efficiency and productivity is the lack of support from colleagues in the profession. Medical professionals and practitioners who practice medicine in isolated or offshore areas are left to themselves, such that major decisions are made independent from the opinion and recommendations of other professional or practitioners.
Aside from these concerns, perhaps the most serious concerns that I have been thinking about is security and cultural differences. Threats to personal security are undeniable in Iraq, a war-torn country wherein murderous activities, perhaps perceived by locals as normal events, happen frequently. It will be difficult to go on with a daily routine without thinking about one’s own personal safety and security. It is most likely that medical professionals or practitioners who are in my place will become preoccupied with the thoughts of harm and death, which will lead them to become unproductive and fully efficient. Fear causes stress and panic, and when one panics, the practice of medicine will likely become frenzied. (Gassmann, 2005)
Arab culture is largely different from the Western culture. When it comes to providing medical services, cultural differences will bear immense implications on how efficient services will be granted to patients. The difference in culture will materialize on how locals will adapt to medical approaches that are conflict with their cultural background. (Encina, 2007) For instance, women in Iraq choose to cover themselves up from head to feet with fabric garments and are not allowed to bear their skin. This simple cultural practice becomes a hindrance in providing medical services, most especially in the process of diagnosing patients.
Remote and offshore medicine are highly complex areas perhaps bringing the difficulty level of providing medical services to the extreme. If the usual environment for medical professionals and practitioners are stressful enough, then remote and offshore medicine are far worse when it comes to stress and pressure levels, accessibility and availability of resources, and productivity levels. Due to the complicated and demanding fields of remote and offshore medicine, it is important to prepare medical professionals and practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills in surviving and conquering difficulties in harsh work environments. This is where strategic planning comes in. (“The Strategic Learning Process,” 2007)
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