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Choosing the Right Organization for Your Medical Mission: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals

I finally decided I was ready to go on a medical mission. But where did I start? There are very few published books on medical missions. Who can you trust on the internet? I decided to start by looking for a team to join for the mission.

Embarking on a medical mission is an endeavor that can make a profound impact on communities in need. However, selecting the right partner organization is crucial for a successful and meaningful experience. In this blog, we’ll discuss key factors to consider when choosing an organization for your medical mission.

1. Mission and Values: The first step is to find an organization whose mission and values resonate with yours. The organization should prioritize sustainability, community empowerment, and ethical practices. Of equal importance to me was respect for the cultures that we would serve. I am fascinated by people who think and live differently, and I want to learn more about them.

2. Experience and Reputation: The organization should have experience with medical missions. Consider the years of experience and the number of missions they have completed. Is there any feedback from the communities they have served? Also consider talking with other professionals who have participated with the organization.

3. Local Partnerships: It’s important that the organization works well within the communities that it serves. Strong partnerships with local healthcare providers and organizations are essential for collaboration and sustainability.

4. Volunteer Support: Evaluate the level of support provided to volunteers before, during, and after the mission. This includes logistical support, training, and resources to ensure volunteers are well-prepared for the mission.

5. Sustainability Efforts: When healthcare providers enter an area, the treatments they provide must be sustainable. For example, you cannot start a person on medication for a chronic illness if they will not be able to continue once you are gone. To provide sustainable solutions, organizations must partner with local healthcare providers and provide training and resources. They also can support long-term healthcare projects.

6. Safety and Security: This should be a top priority. Providers considering a medical mission want to serve others, but this cannot come at the expense of personal safety. Many third world countries have travel advisories, and we must consider that risk when we choose to participate. However, these risks can be mitigated with proper precautions.

7. Cost and Transparency: Most organizations will disclose how the funds are used. Most volunteers must pay or fundraise a certain amount of money to participate. Organizations must minimize administrative costs while still providing quality, safety, and security.

8. Cultural Sensitivity and Respect: The organization must value cultural differences and acknowledge local customs and traditions. This is essential for building trust and fostering positive relationships in the community. In my early research, I found a book about medical missions that was written by a doctor. In the first chapter, he described the locals as having fetishes, wearing talismans, and worshiping idols. It didn’t sound to me as if he were trying to understand the culture, but rather passing judgment.

Conclusion: Selecting the right organization is a crucial first step in participating in a medical mission. Consider the above criteria to make an informed decision that best suits your needs and intentions. For me? I chose International Medical Relief. This organization has been around for a while and offered several areas to serve. Next, I had to consider which mission would best match my skillset and interests. Based on several factors, I chose to serve in the Peru Rainforest. Stay tuned for details!

– Dr. Amy

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