Should I Go On A Medical Mission Trip?

Hearing the word medical mission trip on your resume or CV sounds interesting and impressive. You get to make a short trip to some third-world country and offer some of the much-needed healthcare services which the people there really need.

These trips (according to the advocates) are much more valuable than serving a volunteer program in the US at some clinic. Many also think of these medical mission trips as very enticing and perhaps, life changing. However, there are two sides to everything. There are some who are not in favor of these medical mission trips as they think they serve no meaningful purpose. This dual point of view makes it difficult for the medical students to make up their mind whether or not they should be going on a medical mission trip to a third-world country or not.

There are a number of questions that need to be addressed before you plan to go on a medical mission trip. The most important question being, will it actually have any long-term benefit for the people of that small country?

Are you also facing the same situation and are unsure whether or not you should be traveling to an under-developed or a developing country on a medical mission trip? Here are some pros and cons that will help you make the decision.

Pros of Going on a Medical Mission Trip

It Pushes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

When you head to an unfamiliar place, something you have never experienced before, it allows you to step out of your comfort zone. It will make you engage in activities that you might have not done before. You will be doing different things and will be helping people from a different country where the problems are just very different from what you have it at home. It will open your eyes to new things and will make you see things differently even after you have come back home.

Some experiences might be good, others may be bad. It will be a mixture of experiences and emotions you will remember all your life.

It Helps You Be More Grateful

When you visit a new country, a country that is highly underdeveloped than where you live in, you will learn to be more grateful than before. It is like a session of attitude adjustment that you need every now and then. When you sleep on those uncomfortable beds in Guatemala or spend the entire night in a train in India with no air-conditioning, you will understand what a privileged life you are living. It will make you appreciate the little things in life more and help you connect with others on a different level.

It Helps You Build New and Lasting Relationships

You meet dozens of new people when you are on a medical mission trip. This includes the people who are a part of your team to people who you encounter on the journey and finally the people you are helping. As they say, every person has a unique story of their own, you will have some unforgettable experiences and make some lasting relationships.

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Cons of Going on a Medical Mission Trip

These are More of Self Fulfillment Programs

When you are volunteering for something, it automatically makes it something that is NOT about you. But, these medical mission trips are more of self-fulfillment trips than humanitarian work. You make new relationships, learn new things, meet new people, visit a new place. There is nothing much for the people on the other side of the frame. These short medical mission trips do not offer anything to the community in the long-term.

There is No Sustainable Effect of these Trips

Visiting an orphanage in some distant country of Africa, spending a week there talking to children, giving them some medicines and leaving all-smiles, thinking you have solved all the problems is something ridiculous. Some short medical mission trips might actually create value, but it is not the case with most of them. These trips can have a long-term effect if you dedicate your professional careers for these causes and helping out far-fledged under developed communities. So it all depends on what you take from the trip. It could either be just a bunch of pictures or a vision that defines your career as a healthcare provider.

They Promote Dependence

Communities that make it a habit to rely on donations find it very difficult to sustain on their own. Communities such as the ones that have become fully dependent because of a natural calamity or the recent refugee crisis may be are obviously barred from this. But, these medical mission trips just serve the purpose of a band-aid where a full-fledged operation might be required. You need to treat the problem rather than just letting it become infected. You need to break this cycle of dependence from these communities.

Now that you have it all, the pros and cons of medical mission trips, you can weigh both sides and make a decision whether you should go on a medical mission trip or not.

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Jed Belaguas

Jed Belaguas is endlessly curious about the ever-changing world of digital marketing. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Communications, and is well aware at how hard it is to make to and through medical school.