BLACKFOOT — Dr. Renée Volny has a passion for service and helping those in underdeveloped or underserved communities, and her decision to work as a locum tenens—or traveling physician—provides her the flexibility to do so.
For most physicians in the U.S. who open their own practice or take a permanent position at hospitals or clinics, the opportunity to go on medical missions is rare. But Volny, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and is currently on a nine-month assignment at Bingham Memorial Hospital, is able to schedule her assignments around her medical missions.
Prior to arriving in Blackfoot, Volny went on a two-week medical mission to Ghana, a small country in West Africa, where she provided women's healthcare and trained midwives in cervical cancer screening.
It wasn't long after she arrived at Bingham Memorial Hospital that she heard the hospital was replacing its functional, analog mammogram machine with a new digital machine. Volny asked if the old mammogram machine could be sent to Ghana. The answer was yes.
"That was an extremely generous gesture on their part," Volny said. "Hopefully this will help to provide early detection for breast cancer (in Ghana). The hope is that the number of breast cancer deaths will decrease."
The machine is expected to arrive in Ghana before the end of the year. It was donated to International Healthcare Volunteers, which is coordinating the delivery.
Volny plans to return to Ghana next August to provide training on the mammogram machine and to help educate the public about breast cancer. She is also hoping to receive a grant to implement and expand an education program there.
In addition to her mission in Ghana, Volny also went on a one-week medical mission providing disaster relief in Haiti, one month after the 2010 earthquake that devastated much of the country. The mission was special to her—Volny's parents are Haitian immigrants and her older brother and sister grew up in Haiti.
Going on medical missions and working at various locations throughout the U.S. as a locum tenens has given Volny a broader cultural and medical perspective and has forced her to challenge herself as a doctor.
"It's really challenging to be in a place where you really have to rough it in medicine," Volny said. "I have to figure out how I can provide the best care."
Volny is on assignment at Bingham Memorial until June. She works as an OB/GYN in the hospital's Women's Center.