Healthcare professionals unite in Rotary fellowship

By Christina Sweeney, Rotary Service & Engagement Staff

In Rotary, our profession and our passion for service goes hand-in-hand. Our organization provides opportunities to empower others by using our unique skills and expertise to address community needs and help others discover new professional opportunities and interests. One way to take action through vocational service is to connect with others in your profession through a Rotary Fellowship. We asked Dr. John Philip, Chairman of the International Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals, to share his experience.

Why are you a member of the International Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals?

Philip: I joined the Fellowship over 12 years ago to easily connect with healthcare professionals outside my immediate Rotary circle. The Fellowship opened the door to a global network of professionals, working on the frontline. I never cease to be amazed by the selfless dedication of many of them. They have been an inspiration for me in my professional life and in my Rotary life.

How does your Fellowship help you use your professional expertise for service?

Philip: When I joined Rotary many years ago, there was one other doctor in the club. Both of us felt frustrated that we, as medics, had no effective way of using our skills to help others. Our club had a number of local community and youth service programs which we supported. Whilst we enjoyed this, there was something missing:  when we wore our Rotary hats to serve the community, our medical skills were not in use. In the UK, where healthcare is provided through the National Health Service, there was not much scope for clubs to engage in health programs.

What upcoming plans does your fellowship have for 2022?

Philip: We want to highlight the importance of patient safety; our vision is a world in which no person is harmed in health care, and everyone receives safe and respectful care, every time, everywhere. We are currently working on establishing a network of ambassadors in different countries and want to appeal to all engaging in Rotary-funded health programs to integrate outcome and safety into their protocols. We are also hoping to establish patient groups which, with the support of local Rotary and Rotaract clubs, become the voice of the patients. We have an amazing group which is asking some tough questions, such as when we donate medical equipment, do we do so in a safe and sustainable manner?

We have established two chapters of the Fellowship and look forward to more branches so that healthcare professionals in different areas can work together and, if needed, can tap into our international network.

We also want to launch two campaigns, one to reduce road traffic accidents and one to promote health screening as a right for all children before they start school. The post-pandemic landscape is unpredictable, but one thing is clear: many of the gains we made in health improvement programmes—especially maternal and child mortality, control of infectious diseases and mental health—may need resetting. It would be a huge challenge and much of it can only be tackled by coordinated strategies. We are the natural home of all healthcare professionals combining fellowship with action. If you are not a member please join us.

How has connecting with other healthcare professionals through this fellowship changed your Rotary experience?

Philip: I feel that the connections and sharing of ideas with professionals in over 60 countries have made my Rotary experience fuller, more meaningful and rewarding. I have an extended medical family who cares for each other and in whom I trust. It has also made me appreciate the power of Rotary and that is a force for good in the world.

Read more about the International Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals on their website,

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