By Helena Wimpole

Since its inception in 1991, this Fellowship has undergone a number of changes including its name and scope.

Initially called The Rotarian Doctors Fellowship, it was started by a small group of Rotarian Doctors in the US and spearheaded by a Past District Governor who was able to produce a membership list of about 150 doctors in over 30 countries.

Over time, other doctors from different medical fields succeeded him as chairman of the Fellowship, and its direction changed. Further professional contacts and activities followed, including professional visits to hospitals in the areas where Rotary Conventions were held. The first newsletter was published in 1992 and Rotary International recognised the group in 1993 as Medicine/Health Vocational Fellowship.

As membership grew beyond 300 to include nurses, pharmacists and podiatrists, as well as different projects conducted at RI Conventions, friendship exchanges occurred between the US, UK and Turkey.

The name of the Fellowship also changed in 2002 to International Fellowship of Rotarian Physicians in order to redefine the activities of the Fellowship and include the hands-on efforts of its members. There was considerable expansion in the activities of the Fellowship over the years with the addition of the presentation of scientific aspects of Rotary programs and projects undertaken by membership, scientific meetings, scientific visits and collaboration with other organisations such as Rotary Doctor Bank of Great Britain and Ireland and Men’s Health Network, a US based NGO.

In 2009, with the emergence of Rotary Fellowships in Nursing, Plastic Surgery, Dental Volunteers etc., the name and scope changed, and the Fellowship was renamed the International Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals. Activities also focused on larger projects with more emphasis on impact, sustainability and Rotarian involvement, especially vocational expertise for service.

An active members’ Google group was established in 2007 and this continues to flourish as a resource for information and discussion among members.

The members of this Fellowship contribute their time, energy and interest to sustainable projects across the globe such as peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health basic education and literacy and economic and community development. They also enjoy friendship and sharing their knowledge and expertise with each other for the betterment of world health.

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