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Self-Help Tools for Family Care

Frank Gillingham, MD

Regardless of where you're going on assignment and how long you're staying, it's a good idea to bring a first aid kit and a reference book about common medical conditions. Those tools will assist you in treating minor illnesses yourself and deciding when it's time to seek professional medical attention.

First Aid Kit

The kit should be much more extensive than the typical kit kept in a car or boat and should include:

Medical Reference Book

A medical reference book that explains common medical conditions and their treatment is a terrific resource for the expatriate, particularly in remote cities or host countries. As an physician in France explained:

"A medical reference book will come in handy for advice on how to treat common ailments, and when to seek medical advice..."—General Practice Physician, Paris.

There are many choices so review several titles and pick one that isn't too heavy to carry.

Medical websites are another tool that expatriates can use for diagnostic and treatment information, but it's hard to beat a book for portability and readability. In addition, medical websites vary a lot in the reliability of their sources and in how frequently they update material. The web is put to its best current use when patients search it for information about experimental treatment protocols and rare diseases, information that is rarely found in books or libraries.