Health Emergencies in Large Populations course. (H.E.L.P.)
From time to time I hear from people who are interested in a possible career change into humanitarian assistance. Some just want to get their foot in the door in order to volunteer from time to time, while others are looking to make a career jump into humanitarian medicine full time.
When asked what a good "next step" might be to learn more about humanitarian and disaster assistance, I recommend the Health Emergencies in Large Populations course (or H.E.L.P. course for short).
The HELP course is taught at a variety of locations each year. One is taught at my alma mater, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
The HELP course is designed to introduce participants to a wide variety of topics related to humanitarian disasters including food and nutrition, environmental health, infectious diseases, ethics and human rights, and international law. I can vouch for the excellence of the Hopkins course and the quality of the Hopkins HELP instructors-- they are world experts and excellent teachers.
The HELP course is not for everyone, but for those who are considering a change into humanitarian medicine, it's a great way to gain skills and exposure to a variety of issues. Furthermore, the networking opportunites at a course like this are priceless and can sometimes lead to future job opportunties.