Dr. Olujoke (pronounced Oh-loo-jo-kay) Jones calls Arkansas home but she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to live in a third-world country. A CHLT Hospitalist since 2011, Dr. Jones works locum tenens exclusively as a way to give back to her native Nigeria. “I have always had a desire to give back to humanity,” she shares. “Living in the U.S. for close to 20 years, I am familiar with the major obstacles we are yet to overcome in less-developed countries.” Hailing from a land of stark contrasts—oil-fueled wealth and modernity interspersed with poverty and a lack of available healthcare, Dr. Jones has had a longtime dream of doing what she can to help the less fortunate back home.
By capitalizing on the flexibility of the locum tenens assignments she accepts with Sarah Thacker, her Hospitalist rep, Dr. Jones has finally fulfilled a dream she shared with her late husband. She established Labors of Love, an organization that facilitates mission trips to under-served African nations.
With a belief that education is the key to success, Labors of Love’s works with medical training facilities around the world to exchange medical information and practices as well as to educate the local people about basic preventive care. Taking her cue from the experience she gained on her first mission trip with another organization in 2007, Dr. Jones realized that as a mission doctor, she could effectively help people with immediate needs like antibiotics or antiparasitic medications, however helping those with long-term needs like surgery or chronic diseases was a different story. “As a missionary, you can’t effectively solve those problems,” she says. “You are there and you leave.”
The tactics of Labors of Love’s inaugural trip to Lagos, Nigeria, in May will be twofold. The group will set up a community clinic for the needy, offering preventive health screenings. And, in keeping with organization’s education-based philosophy, Dr. Jones will use her local contacts to partner with residents and medical students to exchange information that can be used well after the missionaries leave. “The future doctors are the people who will go on to practice locally. When they learn from you, it creates more of a long-term impact,” she says. With local medical schools low on resources readily available in the U.S., such as a CT scanner, Dr. Jones understands the importance of empowering doctors to find solutions to problems not easily solved. “You have to get down to the grass roots to come up with the solution. That’s what we hope to teach them,” she shares.
For Sarah, who has been Dr. Jones’ exclusive rep, working with a physician so willing to give back is a reward in itself. “Dr. Jones is the best. She is a joy to work with. She is easy to talk to and is kind and caring,” says Sarah. “Her colleagues hold her in high esteem. She is a hard worker, reliable and I always know she will do a great job on her assignments.”
Hoping to spread her educational message beyond Nigeria, Dr. Jones has already set her sights on the potential site of her next trip, which she hopes will be to South Africa.
For more information, visit Labors of Love.
Original article posted in Medhealth.