An Outstanding International Volunteering Opportunity for Radiology Professionals

Reading Time: 7 minutes read

An Everything Rad Interview with RAD-AID Volunteers Jamie and Steve Surratt.

RAD-AID, founded in 2008, is an international, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to increasing radiological availability, expertise and infrastructure around the globe –in many underserved countries that need this support the most.

In today’s post, we interview Jamie Surratt, M.D, and Steve Surratt, M.D., both experienced radiologists and RAD-AID volunteers, to learn about RAD-AID from the perspective of these dedicated “boots-on-the-ground” volunteers.

Everything Rad:

Jamie and Steve, we want to thank you for taking time out of your very busy lives and careers to talk to us today.

We’d really like to get your personal thoughts and perspectives on the work you do with RAD-AID. So to begin, can you tell me what drew you to the field of radiology in the first place?

Jamie Surratt:

Sure. I’ll go first. I was a physical therapist before going to med school, and worked for the public health service. It was pretty eye opening to see the degree of need among those served by the public system – and that’s here in this country! Then, when I went to med school, I fell in love with radiology. For me, that was the best part of the day. I loved radiology’s ability to put the pieces of the puzzle together and clarify the nature of an illness or injury. Also, Steve and I met there in school. Then we were in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida for 25 years.

Image of Steve & Jamie Surratt with 2 residents in park
Steve & Jamie Surratt (in back) are experienced radiologists and RAD-AID volunteers.

ER:

You worked together in the same practice?

Steve Surratt:

The same practice, but different departments. Jamie worked in the breast center and I was specializing in body imaging.

ER:

And how did you first become involved with RAD-AID?

Jamie Surratt:

Well, after we retired from full-time practice, we knew we wanted to give back, and started looking for ways to do that.

Steve Surratt:

We both had a strong desire to get back in touch, and to pass on what we’d learned during close to 30 years of radiology experience – to be able share that in a way that would really help people. The first opportunity we found was volunteering for a local free clinic, performing imaging with basic radiography and ultrasound.

Jamie Surratt:

Then we started volunteering abroad. I’d gone to Cuba as part of a volunteer medical team since around 2002 – that’s 16 or 17 years! More recently, we were trying to work with a new residency program in Honduras, which proved very difficult. I wanted to learn more about how to successfully integrate training, curriculum, best practices and so on to give the in-country residents the level of expertise they’re looking for. That’s when I found out about RAD-AID and got to know Melissa (Melissa Culp, RAD-AID’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer). I completed the RAD-AID Certificate of Proficiency in Global Health Radiology and learned a great deal about Radiology Readiness – which is crucial to RAD-AID’s success.

ER:

I understand you recently completed a RAD-AID trip to Guyana. What was that experience like?

Jamie Surratt:

Jamie Surratt teaching 2 females how to read images on the display.
Dr. Jamie Surratt working alongside radiology residents in Guyana.

In a word? Amazing! I think I can speak for Steve too when I say that we’ve found precisely the volunteer experience we were looking for.

Steve Surratt:

Absolutely. The residents are so eager to learn. There’s no shortage of places to teach, and there’s so much potential to help them improve their diagnostic techniques and knowledge. You know, here in the States, there are so many wonderful schools and teaching hospitals that aspiring radiologists can access. But in the countries RAD-AID serves, this is simply not the case – so they’re very grateful for what we can offer. And that’s just been really rewarding.

Jamie Surratt:

And the RAD-AID model is wonderfully self-perpetuating and sustainable. For example, several of our residents told me that they want to stay on and become the teachers of the incoming residents. So that’s a beautiful picture of sustainability.

ER:

What impresses you the most about RAD-AID as an organization?

Jamie Surratt:

Probably their attention to detail and the totally buttoned-up way they go about things.

Steve Surratt:

I feel the same way. As Jamie mentioned, we were part of the residency effort in Honduras about five years ago with a different organization. And while some good things were accomplished…

Jamie Surratt:

…well, it just wasn’t a RAD-AID program, and there were issues and frustrations. RAD-AID is just amazing: way up front they perform the whole Radiology Readiness assessment to determine the most specific areas where improvement is need. They have all the background, the structure, the organization, and a solid strategic plan all in place.

Steve Surratt:

They really do cross their I’s and dot their T’s. By the time volunteers like us come onto the scene, everything is set for us to hit the ground running and begin working very effectively with the residents from day one.

ER:

Okay, thanks so much. This has been a great conversation. In closing, if a potential RAD-AID volunteer asked you what they could expect to get out of the experience, what might you say to encourage them?

Steve Surratt:

I would say this is an outstanding international volunteering opportunity for radiology professionals – one in which you genuinely feel like you’re making a difference and providing a service that’s needed so urgently. And I would tell a prospective volunteer not to worry at all about the logistics of the experience. RAD-AID makes it seamlessly easy for the volunteers. They have housing all ready for you. They provide transportation that makes it convenient to get to and from the hospital. You do provide your own the plane ticket to get there, and you do buy your own food – but it’s very inexpensive. It’s simply a hassle-free and affordable way to give back.

Jamie Surratt:

You know, when we were still in practice in the U.S., the pace was always so hectic and the workload so heavy that there was little time to share cases, discuss issues or collaborate as fully as you would like. In Guyana, while we were certainly busy, there was time to do all of those things. And you know what? I felt my original love of radiology come back. It doesn’t get much more rewarding than that.

To explore a volunteer experience with RAD-AID, please visit www.rad-aid.org

Read the related interview with Melissa Culp, RAD-AID’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer to learn about RAD-AID’s origins, objectives, and programs.

POST A COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.