Medical Missions


So I have been tossing the idea around in my head that I might be interested in possibly doing like a medical mission trip. I would be interested in staying in the US for my first time and I was wondering if anyone has done a mission trip and could offer some in's and out's about it.


adventure_rn, BSN

1 Article; 1,544 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

That's awesome, good for you.

The experience depends heavily on who is running the mission (i.e. a small church group vs. a non-profit vs. your own unit), so the 'ins and outs' are really going to vary.

In almost all cases, you're going to have to pay your own way or fundraise to cover your expenses (the group may have suggestions to help with this). Even though you're volunteering your time and skills, you will have to cover your own travel and living expenses. If you're going with a non-profit, you may also have to pay an administrative fee to the organization (since the non-profit employees who organize the trip have to make a salary).

In most situations (especially if you do eventually go internationally) you may not have access to all of the supplies/equipment you're used to having, which is just part of the reality of volunteering.

In spite of the challenges, people often find it incredibly rewarding, and you have the opportunity to develop great friendships with other volunteers on the trip.


3 Posts

Has 4 years experience.

Hey There,

Thanks for your reply back. You actually touch on the subjects I was wondering about. So thank you very much. I will be looking further into this and hope to find a good organization to partner up with.


C Roll 5, RN

36 Posts

Specializes in Case management, rehabilitation, newborn nursery. Has 46 years experience.

I did a mission trip with the Catholic diocese a few years ago in Guatemala. It was a great experience. I had to cover my airfare and pay $200 for a shared room for the week. Transport and all meals were covered. It was really stepping out of my comfort zone but everyone was so welcoming, warm, and friendly. It was a very rewarding experience.

nurse2033, MSN, RN

3 Articles; 2,133 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU.

I've done a number of mission trips in Nicaragua and Haiti. On the surface it is a feel-good opportunity but there is discussion about the ethics of these types of swoop and save missions. You spend a lot of time and money helping a relatively small percentage of the population. In Haiti I was involved in teaching the local health aides to raise their skill level so our mission would "continue" after we left. I found this much more satisfying. Here is a good article

This book is also good for discussion

Good luck.


1,294 Posts

I did one to Zambia thru a local church/medical supply charity.  I am grateful for the experience, was able to see/learn about alot of interesting medical issues - things we don't see here in the USA; but for me it is something I don't think I would do again outside of the US.  Alot of time, effort and money was poured into the week but I felt the countries healthcare issues are so large we were like a temporary bandaid for the bigger issues the people had and we couldn't fix them.  

I paid $2200, that took care of everything - airfare, lodging, food; I didn't mind paying the fee and it ended up that I could use this as a tax write-off.