Medical missions?

  1. Hi everyone~

    I was just reading an article on the web about the team of doctors in LA donating their skills to operate on conjoined twins. I have read about nurses donating their time to go to other countries and do medical mission work. Has anyone been involved in medical missions, either at home or abroad, as a nurse? I would love to hear about your experience.

    ~Caryn
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   jayna
    Hiya Nursestudent.
    I am one of them
    Studied in NZ practiced for more than 6 years in my country and now I am working in Vietnam, but working as an WHO Staff working along with Ministry of Health to improve Nursing care....phew!! quiet a hard work with my poor Vietnamese language.

    Well, I saw loads of volunteers working in other international organizations doing nursing jobs.

    Reproductive health or mother and baby is quiet an improtant subject for most of the international organization working in the third world countries.........mostly in Asia and Africa or central America. Even though that, most organization wants their nurses to be experienced before going abroad.
  4. by   MPHkatie
    I have done a lot of work in Central and South America with several different "mission" groups. Next looks like I am headed off to Kenya for three months. Personally, I am NOT at all fond of the two week missions, where all the residents line up for health care- as there is absoloutely no continuity of care, and about 1/3 of the time we dont have the actual medicine the patients need. But, currently this is often the way that health care is delivered in third world countries (which is why I'm getting my MPH, to change that)....but now, it is still better than nothing....and it is a good way to get your feet wet in international nursing. That said, I have had some really great experiences nursing outside of my home country, and I've had some very heartbreaking experiences as well. Well worth it.
  5. by   adrienurse
    Between my first and second years of university, I almost went to work in an AIDS hostel in Uganda. My mother wasn't ready to let me leave the country

    It really sounded facinating. Nursing and medical students from my university were invited to spend the summer volunteering their time.

    I'm gonna have to make up for it later.
  6. by   Carleigh
    I begin school Aug. 22nd and I'm very excited. Each Spring Break, a medical team from the hospital goes to Honduras and about 7 nursing students are accepted to go(all expenses paid). They've already told me, that with my knowledge of Spanish, that I don't have to apply and can go. I've been to Mexico and Costa Rica so I'm prepared for the poverty, etc. I will encounter but hope we can make some impact. Like was said, there's only so much you can do in a short timeframe.
  7. by   nursestudent
    Thanks so much, guys, for replying! Kudos to you all for helping out needy people in other countries. I am just starting nursing school, and medical missions sounds so fulfilling (and yet frustrating too, sometimes)...I worked for fourteen months in a facility for troubled teen girls. I was interested in going into counseling, but I decided I'd rather have a more hands-on type of job. There certainly is a need for counselors, though! Thanks again for sharing....any more medical missions stories out there?

    ~Caryn
  8. by   eak16
    I actually decided to become a nurse while on a mission. It didn;t start out as a medical mission though. I went to East Africa to be a volunteer English teacher, but I started volunteering on the side at some free clinics and found that I liked it WAY better! Now I am in nursing school and am itching to return to Africa. I plan to live there permanently soon. I agree that "line 'em up clinics" tend to do more to make the volunteers feel good than the patients however. In my opinion time would be better spent either staying in these countries long term so that proper health care (i.e., continuity) can be provided, or at least training third world residents with the health care skills to prevent diseases, making treatment even less necessary. Anyway, it is a touchy subject, but kudos to all the nurses who care about the third world!
  9. by   researchrabbit
    The nursing school I graduated from sends a mission to Mexico every year, so I went in 2000. The people we saw were so grateful and their situations sometimes very dire (to this day, I feel like a rich woman even though there are four of us living on my nurse's salary).

    Since we only had 3 people who spoke Spanish out of 18, I got to do a lot translating (including teaching -- and teaching VERY basic stuff, like handwashing) but not too much of the hands on stuff (it gets tricky translating for 5 people at a time).

    BTW, my Spanish is not so hot but it didn't seem to matter much.

    Our MD happened to be male so I wound up doing some digital rectal exams on elderly women while he stood on the other side of the curtain and I described what I felt.

    The equipment at the site was ancient (being a problem-solver, I did figure out the ECG machine which really came in handy as we saw one teen with a severe heart problem). The closest phone was almost a mile away. No hot water but plenty of cold water for showers (BRRRRR).

    We had everything from horrendous wounds to severe genetic disorders, as well as minor things.

    Our group cleared a floor and built a roof for family with a disabled boy.

    Each of us brought a small bag of our personal things and a large bag of donated medical supplies and good used clothing and shoes. I think I did over 100 pelvics while I was there -- there was such a huge demand that even our dental assistant learned to do them.

    Some of the people had never had any health care. It was a very rewarding experience, and hopefully I will have the chance to go again.
  10. by   JessAnn960
    Quote from researchrabbit
    The nursing school I graduated from sends a mission to Mexico every year, so I went in 2000. The people we saw were so grateful and their situations sometimes very dire (to this day, I feel like a rich woman even though there are four of us living on my nurse's salary).

    Since we only had 3 people who spoke Spanish out of 18, I got to do a lot translating (including teaching -- and teaching VERY basic stuff, like handwashing) but not too much of the hands on stuff (it gets tricky translating for 5 people at a time).

    BTW, my Spanish is not so hot but it didn't seem to matter much.

    Our MD happened to be male so I wound up doing some digital rectal exams on elderly women while he stood on the other side of the curtain and I described what I felt.

    The equipment at the site was ancient (being a problem-solver, I did figure out the ECG machine which really came in handy as we saw one teen with a severe heart problem). The closest phone was almost a mile away. No hot water but plenty of cold water for showers (BRRRRR).

    We had everything from horrendous wounds to severe genetic disorders, as well as minor things.

    Our group cleared a floor and built a roof for family with a disabled boy.

    Each of us brought a small bag of our personal things and a large bag of donated medical supplies and good used clothing and shoes. I think I did over 100 pelvics while I was there -- there was such a huge demand that even our dental assistant learned to do them.

    Some of the people had never had any health care. It was a very rewarding experience, and hopefully I will have the chance to go again.
    What mission agency were you part of exactly? Are there long term opportunities available?
  11. by   beckster_01
    I went to Guatemala with my school twice to run free clinics. It was a great learning experience for me, and to this day I have a heart for the people of Guatemala. However, what I did was a very inefficient use of funds if you are looking to make a long-term impact on people's lives. As someone mentioned before, there is no follow-up care. We were able to treat skin conditions, treat aches/pains/heartburn, give vitamins, and give de-worming medication. While there is value in all of that, I think my money can be more effective in other ways. On a plus side, when I was there I was struck most by what a difference clean water would make in these people's health. I have been keeping an eye out for a way to make a permanent impact for the area that I visited, and have been facebook friends with the guy who led our trip and practically lives in Guatemala. And what do you know? He just started a project that will supply the indigenous region that we went to with a permanent water filtration system!

    If anyone is interested in helping with this project, private message me and I will send you some info It is really an amazing project that will not only provide clean water and healthier living, but job opportunities and an economic boost. *stepping off the soapbox*
  12. by   BacktoBasics
    Just got back from Haiti last month. The toughest and most amazing thing I've ever done.
  13. by   nurse2033
    Went to Nicaragua for a surgical mission that was a great experience -except for getting mugged by a psycho with a machete in the dark. That kind of soured the trip.

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