William Baugh, M.D., was a liberal arts student at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, Calif., when he first volunteered for an outreach trip to help less-fortunate people in Mexico. That decision ultimately was the springboard to a future in medicine.
That decision ultimately was the springboard to a future in medicine.
He led several such trips during his last two years at Westmont, coordinating medical care and helping to make people's lives healthier.
A way to help others
He quickly realized that medicine could be the vehicle needed to access and help others.
"Medicine, in general, opens so many doors. People ask, 'You're a doctor? Come! Help!'" Dr. Baugh says.
While in the Navy - which partly paid for medical school - Dr. Baugh gained specialty training and skills he has used on his missions to Third World countries.
"I could really see God's guidance in choosing the military. He took me out of debt, and the military provides great training for doctors who want to serve in rural areas, overseas and in Third World countries. You are taught how to adapt, be flexible and survive," Dr. Baugh says. "As a flight surgeon, I also trained in tropical medicine."
Have samples, will travel
"Dermatology," Dr. Baugh says, "is a great specialty for doctors who travel to underprivileged areas to provide care. It is not as reliant on cumbersome and often unavailable technology, so dermatologists adapt more easily in places that have little access to medicine's bells and whistles."
Today, he leaves his successful general and cosmetic dermatology practice in California several times a year for medical missionary work. In 2009, he visited Cuba and Guatemala. He has traveled to India, Mexico and Honduras. In 2010, he plans trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala. All are on his dime.
Dr. Baugh sees children and adults with skin and other health conditions. There are many exacerbated common skin conditions, and some he would probably never see in the states, including tropical infections, parasites, advanced tumors and more.
Appreciation the payoff
With four kids on track for college and bills to pay, Dr. Baugh says full-time medical missionary work is out of the question for now. But it is his goal for the future.
"Medicine can really be consuming. Doctors burn out," he says. "Medical outreach changes that perspective, and I realize how much the Lord Jesus has blessed me. I want to extend that to other people. We have been to places where people line up out the door, down the hall and around the corner. We work long hours, but never seem to get as tired as we do after a long day in the hospital or office in the U.S."
Dr. Baugh says that a Bible verse, Matthew 25:40, inspires him to care for people of all walks of life: "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" (NKJV)
William Baugh, M.D.
Born: Flagstaff, Ariz., 1965
Medical degree: Loma Linda University Southern California
Internship: U.S. Naval Medical Center San Diego
Residency: U.S. Naval Medical Center San Diego
Hobbies: Travel, basketball, philosophy
Family: Wife; four children, ages 8 to 14