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Old 13-12-2008, 12:12   #1
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Floating Doctor's Office ?

I am not a cruiser yet. Actually I am in medical school, and eventually my dream is to have a sailing Doctors office.

I wonder though, why haven't I seen more suggestions for work related to cruising like scuba diving for hull cleaning and inspection, or sail repair-- seems to me that in distant ports these would be valued services and wouldn't require much by way of equipment. You might not make a bundle but might be able to keep the kitty topped off.

Also, why not a small shipping business to islands in the S. Pacific that have nothing? Start a small route between a few islands stocking up in Tahiti or something along these lines...

I'd like to hear some thoughts on the above including the floating Dr. idea.
Thanks!
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:24   #2
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first, you need permission to work in most countries and they don't give permission much unless you have a skill not found in the country already. Many folks do this under the radar but you don't make much money. And that brings up the next issue. For every job you want to do there are a dozen or more locals ready and willing to do the work for a lot less money. And they don't take very kindly to you coming in and taking work away from them. To practice medicine in every country we have visited you need a license by that country or you work alongside one of their doctors. Nurses are in such demand that they are usually allowed to work just about anywhere. As cruisers, even at our age we find when we are out there we have very little contact with the medical profession unless there is an accident.
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:44   #3
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Originally Posted by mkrautha View Post
I am not a cruiser yet. Actually I am in medical school, and eventually my dream is to have a sailing Doctors office.

I'd like to hear some thoughts on the above including the floating Dr. idea.
Thanks!
I'm in general agreement with what Chuck said, but I'd also like to add that as a physician, you pretty much need to develop a practice. Same for lawyers; same for accountants. Part of that developing means you need to be there, wherever 'there' is. If you look at all the realities of the business side of medicine, notably insurance and billing in general, you'll see this is doubly true.

There are opportunities for travel in medicine - serving with your country's military, Medecins sans Frontieres and aboard a cruise ship come to mind. But none really grant the autonomy you might be looking for.
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:55   #4
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Most cruisers don't have money. An internet based service business is probably the best bet.
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Old 13-12-2008, 14:39   #5
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Here on Nevis, we have a medical school (Medical University of the Americas). The physician-professors are not allowed to practice medicine on the island, since they would compete with the local doctors. We do get some specialists who come here once or twice a year, but they are donating their services at no charge.
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Old 13-12-2008, 15:24   #6
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Quote:
Also, why not a small shipping business to islands in the S. Pacific that have nothing? Start a small route between a few islands stocking up in Tahiti or something along these lines...
International smuggling has been a profitable business for centuries. The only serious downsides are the competition may not play fair since most have automatic weapons and a poor sense of ethics. The local customs authorities may take offense at your operations. The primary merchandise includes just about anything illegal to possess in most all countries. It also requires a low profile so you don't want to hang around in public places with respectable people. You want a very fast boat since the authorities would easily have you out manned and out gunned.

Islands that really have nothing don't have money either or infrastructure to allow you to do business. It why they don't have anything.

Being an import / export merchant is actually a legal business but does not lend itself well to a ship based operation. It's really like working for a living and usually requires a legitimate address, office, and license to do business. Would you ship or trade with someone that didn't?

The better solution is to be a doctor for a while and make some serious money. Then when you leave you won't have to work. You have an ability to make a lot of money in medicine in countries where people have a lot of money.

Places with little money will find many locals who perform menial jobs far cheaper than you would think possible and probably do it better and faster too. In the 3rd world unskilled labor pool you are poorly equipped to make a living. Locals have relatives and a standing in the community. You are just a stranger on a boat that dresses funny.
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Old 14-12-2008, 16:12   #7
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I doubt the sailing Dr's office will work. In my experience, at any semi-crowded anchorage, there will be a few doctors, a few engineers, and a few lawyers. They tend to be the ones who can afford to cruise on yachts.
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Old 14-12-2008, 16:27   #8
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In Georgetown one season we heard a call go out over the VHF, someone had broken their toe playing volleyball. After the dust settled we had two surgeons, two general practice MDs, a Medtech and a handful of nurses. The guy could never have ask for faster response or better care even in the good old USA, especially in the good old USA. No one to our knowledge, handed him a bill.
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Old 14-12-2008, 16:28   #9
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This thread has my vote for some of the funniest answers I have read here on the forum. Congrats!
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Old 14-12-2008, 16:30   #10
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This thread has my vote for some of the funniest answers I have read here on the forum. Congrats!

I guess we all have a different sense of humor. We must have really discouraged our original poster since he hasn't been back since his original post.
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Old 14-12-2008, 17:11   #11
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We were at chub cay and a call came over vhf that a fisherman was in need of medical attention. We had someone onboard who went over and removed a hook that was imbedded in bone. At the Island they said they would supply her with a clinic if she would stay since they had no medical facilities.
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Old 14-12-2008, 18:10   #12
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We were at chub cay and a call came over vhf that a fisherman was in need of medical attention. We had someone onboard who went over and removed a hook that was imbedded in bone. At the Island they said they would supply her with a clinic if she would stay since they had no medical facilities.
Did they say how much they would pay? I would venture not much if anything at all. That was the original posters question, could he make money as a traveling doctor on his boat.
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Old 14-12-2008, 20:18   #13
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Telemedicine

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Originally Posted by mkrautha View Post
I am not a cruiser yet. Actually I am in medical school, and eventually my dream is to have a sailing Doctors office.
Two fast growing segments of healthcare are (a) telemedicine and (b) web-based presentations for licensed providers to keep current with their CEUs. I realize my suggestion here is not exactly in line with what you were asking, practicing medicine while cruising; however, like other folks here have said, I do not see that option as viable.

Depending on your medical leanings you could develop methods that could be used in telemedicine. For example, in my population I have a lot of folks with vestibular problems. Operationalizing an assessment method (or a rehab protocol) that can be used via TV / sat link to someone in the field could be useful. Read the literature in the area that interests you and see who is doing what. Contact those folks and discuss developing a proposal to submit to either NIH, DoD, or US Army Medical Command. You and a professor apply for a grant through either NIH or DoD and develop this method. Then you take that dog and pony show to the net and in conjunction with a continuing ed program through a local university, you develop web-based trainings and presentations so providers either get certified in your new methodology OR they take the webinar and get CE units. Areas like vestibular, migraine management, mild TBI rehab are developing like crazy in telemed. Then you can hold real time web conferencing answering questions those people have AFTER they paid money to see your presentation.

Telemedicine is utterly ripe with potential. It is (and has) been exploding with growth.

This is not in line with your Dr. Boat dream, but it is presented in the spirit of using your doctorate in medicine from different areas of the globe.

Michael
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Old 14-12-2008, 20:42   #14
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MV, Still can't see how this would be feasible working from a boat while cruising sometimes remote areas.
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Old 14-12-2008, 20:47   #15
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First off, it is a suggestion that has multiple limits. And there are two ways it can work. One, you build a stream of income from presentations, much like royalties work. It starts very slow, but it can be built up over time. Secondly, of course any live web presentation requires an up-link. But you can be contracted to develop presentations -- your task is to get them mailed the slow way or by email.

So to heart of your post, no, some of what I suggested it is not all that feasible or practical in remote areas. And some of what I suggested can be done in less than remote areas.
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