Medical mission trips

  1. I will be going on my first medical mission trip to Central America this summer. I am beyond excited, and would like to hear from others who have done similar trips. Any tips, or anything I should know before I go?
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    About BCgradnurse, MSN, RN, NP Guide

    Joined: Sep '07; Posts: 5,546; Likes: 20,318

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  3. by   Flames9_RN
    Quote from BCgradnurse
    I will be going on my first medical mission trip to Central America this summer. I am beyond excited, and would like to hear from others who have done similar trips. Any tips, or anything I should know before I go?
    Where abouts? I resided in Managua Nicaragua for 3 years...loved it, but at the same time it could be depressing as their was so much poverty. And make sure you know if it is the rainy season or not..can get a pile of rain in the rainy season....stock up on mosquito repellent!
  4. by   BCgradnurse
    Quote from Flames9_RN
    Where abouts? I resided in Managua Nicaragua for 3 years...loved it, but at the same time it could be depressing as their was so much poverty. And make sure you know if it is the rainy season or not..can get a pile of rain in the rainy season....stock up on mosquito repellent!
    Guatemala. I was told mosquitoes would not be much of an issue because we'll be at altitude, but if there's one mosquito you can be sure it will find me. What vaccines did you have to get?
  5. by   Flames9_RN
    Quote from BCgradnurse
    Guatemala. I was told mosquitoes would not be much of an issue because we'll be at altitude, but if there's one mosquito you can be sure it will find me. What vaccines did you have to get?
    never been to Guatamala.....Vaccine wise..what the CDC recommends.....Health Information for Travelers to Guatemala - Traveler view | Travelers' Health | CDC
    Be prepared to have stomach issues from eating the local food.....
  6. by   Flames9_RN
    I sent u a PM......I just received the vaccines recommended by the CDC and I sent u that link..for some reason allnurses said it was spam when I tried replying earlier.
  7. by   BCgradnurse
    Quote from Flames9_RN
    I sent u a PM......I just received the vaccines recommended by the CDC and I sent u that link..for some reason allnurses said it was spam when I tried replying earlier.
    Thank you!
  8. by   findinghimfaithful
    Does anyone know the associations that offer medical missions?
  9. by   nursej22
    When I went to the Dominican Republic the only vaccine I needed was typhoid, which is available in injection or oral. Thanks to being in health care, everything else was up to date.

    Take some sanitizing wipes and some extra cleansing wipes just in case. I wish I would have taken some small gifts to exchange when some of the people gave me things.

    And bring pictures of your home, especially snow!

    Have a photo copy of your passport somewhere in your belongings separate from your passport and leave a copy with family.

    Buy an international plan for your phone. I got one from my carrier, and they only charge if you use it, and it was only $10.
  10. by   Wuzzie
    Be prepared to have your mind blown. Many of these places do not have the same standards to which you might be accustomed. For example, in Peru (Lima no less) they have the cleanest laundry I have ever see but they reuse their chest tubes.
  11. by   ElvishDNP
    I have done medical work in Nicaragua and I took malaria prophylaxis (which I later had an allergic reaction to) and got the typhoid vax IM, though the live PO vaccine has better immunogenicity. If you can get some antibiotics just in case for traveler's diarrhea that will be good, too. Both times we've gone to Nica at least one person in our group has come down with it, but thankfully we've never had anything worse than that. I think one year someone got stung by a scorpion but she was fine after some prednisone and benadryl.

    Each country - each region, even - is different, but there is so much to love. If you go with an open mind and heart you will have a wonderful time. Both times I've been to Nica I've gone to help people, but the reality is that I received so much more than I feel I gave and I learned so much more than I taught. We worked at a local teaching hospital as well as at primary care clinics out in the boonies; sometimes I was amazed at the creativity/ingenuity and impressed with how well they were doing with the tiny little bit that they have. In other cases I was shocked at what I saw - roaches and flies in the wards, patients being talked over as if they aren't there (which happens in the US too, granted), basic necessities such as bed linens having to be provided by the families, and some of the med students stayed on their phones during grand rounds. So it's a mixed bag. There are some astoundingly bright young nurses and physicians (and other healthcare workers) in these places who would absolutely flourish in a place with more resources and/or opportunities for learning.

    It's amazing what you can find over-the-counter in these countries. Some of it's legit and some isn't and unless you can read Spanish it can be hard to tell what's what.

    Some tips:
    1) Watch out for cars & motos. One of physicians that goes to Nicaragua with us calls stop signs 'stop suggestions' because people may or may not stop. Just be doubly careful.

    2) Be respectful of the people who live where you're visiting. It's a trip for you, but this is their daily life, so as much as you can please try to keep out of the way of people going about their lives. (It's an easy trap to fall into, I'm not criticising you personally.) I mean simple things like standing in the middle of a street or sidewalk to look up at some nice architecture or something, and you get in people's way as they're walking to work or school, etc. I've been guilty of it too, and always feel like such an ass when I realise what I'm doing.

    3) I don't know what your Spanish language proficiency is, but don't be afraid to use what you know. People will appreciate you making the effort.

    4) Be prepared to see things you would never see in the US. Either because it would've gotten fixed at birth/in childhood, or because there is simply not the access to resources in more remote areas. I saw rheumatic heart disease in 20 year olds from untreated strep, and I saw children walking around with sats in the 50s with one small cardiac conduit that shouldn't even be present but was keeping them alive because they had ALCAPA (read about it here, almost never seen outside infancy d/t poor prognosis and/or fairly immediate repair). Some of it will be endlessly fascinating, and some of it will be endlessly heartbreaking.

    5) Be prepared to come back with a completely different perspective on a LOT of things.

    6) Last, but definitely not least: if you can at all, do some reading about the social and political history of the place you're going to be visiting. In the case of Guatemala, they're not too far removed from a terribly bloody almost 40-year-long civil war, and the US played a part in it (similar story in Nicaragua). It's a good idea to have an idea of what people have been through. Fortunately, people in Nicaragua were to a person gracious and kind, and didn't hold the sins of our government against us as people. Some of their buildings are still pockmarked with bullets, and you can visit ruins of churches bombed with US bombs. It's really devastating. (Not to be a downer, just a realist.)

    In all, I am super excited for you and I know you'll have a great time and learn a lot. PM me if you have any questions! I love talking about Central America!
  12. by   ElvishDNP
    There's a big long post of mine waiting to be reviewed, but half of it will be unnecessary since I took a look at who the OP is. BC - you'll do great and have a wonderful time. xo
  13. by   BCgradnurse
    Quote from findinghimfaithful
    Does anyone know the associations that offer medical missions?

    I don't. I heard about this trip by word of mouth. I'd be interested to know if there is some listing somewhere.
  14. by   TriciaJ
    If you haven't had a travel consult with a travel medicine clinic, it would be worth your while to do so. They will inform you of what vaccines you need and provide them. They should also discuss insect precautions, traveler's diarrhea and other travel-related issues. If you don't have travel health and evacuation insurance, please find a reputable carrier and look into it.

    Have a fantastic trip!

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