Dr. Kait Graham is the Director of Volunteer Programs and Operations at World Spine Care. She previously volunteered as a Volunteer Associate in Mahalapye and Shoshong, Botswana in 2015. World Spine Care asked Kait to share more about how she got involved with the organization and what spine care practitioners should know if they’d like to volunteer.
How did you first hear about World Spine Care?
My introduction to World Spine Care was a situation of being in the right place at the right time, and I am forever grateful. I was working at an event, for a whitewater rafting company, the summer before I started chiropractic college. I was introduced to someone who told me all about his wonderful chiropractor in Ottawa, Canada. This chiropractor was about to pack up his life and move to the other side of the world to start and build a spine care program in Botswana, Africa. I was encouraged to contact him and meet him before he left. So I did just that. On a Wednesday afternoon, a couple of weeks before starting chiropractic college, I found myself shadowing and learning from Dr. Geoff Outerbridge in his clinic in Ottawa. He told me all about World Spine Care, Dr. Scott Haldeman, and World Spine Care’s incredible mission. While Geoff moved to Botswana with his family, I moved to Toronto and started the school year at CMCC. From that day forward, I knew that I wanted to learn more and get involved with World Spine Care.
Why do you think World Spine Care’s mission is so important?
World Spine Care’s mission is to improve lives in underserved communities through sustainable, integrated, evidence-based, spine care. I believe that World Spine Care’s mission is so important because it is addressing a profound need in the world. By helping individuals in underserved communities with their spinal conditions, we impact their lives in a meaningful way. When they are not in pain and functioning better, they can accomplish their daily activities, they can work to support their families, they can enjoy life. Furthermore, World Spine Care’s projects address the reality that spinal conditions are recurrent. Our sustainable and integrated clinics mean that communities have access to evidence-based spine care when they need it.
What drives you personally and professionally each day?
The desire to help people drives me personally and professionally each day. Whether that be teaching fitness classes, working with World Spine Care, or treating patients in clinical practice, my desire to help people move and feel better keeps me going. It also motivates me to continue to learn and understand how to better serve others.
Any advice for someone who wants to get involved with World Spine Care?
- Do your research and ask questions. World Spine Care has an extensive community of current and past volunteers who are always happy to talk to prospective volunteers.
- Make a plan. Whether that be fundraising before you volunteer, or lining up a job for when you come back, having a plan eliminates the stress of the unknown and allows you to enjoy your volunteer experience to the fullest.
- Keep an open mind. As a World Spine Care Volunteer, you will find yourself in the expert role, in a new country, surrounded by a different community and a new culture. Be open to learning from your patients and their experiences. Your clinical cases will vary from what you learned and what you know from textbooks. Pain may be experienced differently and function may have a whole new meaning.
- Listen and learn. My clinical experience in Botswana taught me so much about the importance of listening, observing, and understanding my patients. You can gain valuable clinical information by taking a thorough history, by observing how someone walks, sits, moves, and works.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! In anticipation of re-opening our clinics later this year, we are currently recruiting volunteers for the role of clinical supervisor in Moca, Dominican Republic. The start date is flexible – we will only ask someone to go once it is safe to travel again. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, feel free to e-mail me.