If you’re a medical professional and you’ve committed to serving on a medical mission, then congratulations! You’ll be making a difference in the lives of those in need and going on an adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Medical missions can help you develop skills and broaden your mind while serving
Getting ready for a medical mission can be a big challenge. It’s difficult to know what you can and can’t expect on your trip before you go. Preparing for a medical mission trip requires more than sticking to a packing list—it also means preparing your mind and your expectations for what lies ahead. Here’s are some tips for ensuring a smooth and successful trip.
Ask for Advice
Everyone’s experience on a medical mission trip is different, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get helpful hints from people who have been on these kinds of trips before. Make an effort to get in touch with people who have gone on missions similar to yours. Most people are very happy to talk about their experience and to give any tips or advice they may have.
Not sure where to start? Ask the organization you’re working with for referrals! You can also look online for advice—there are lots of resources and firsthand accounts you can access with just a quick search.
Define Your Goal or Expected Outcome
Going into a medical mission trip, you might have certain expectations. Depending on the location of your mission, the length of your service, and other factors, however, you may not be able to accomplish all your goals or make a truly meaningful impact. Realize that the trip is not about you and your needs, but about the people you are serving.
With that said, it’s a good idea to define your goals. How do you want to help? What skills do you hope to practice? Setting realistic goals and expectations is important when preparing for a medical mission trip.
Learn All You Can About Where You Are Heading
Once you know where you’re traveling (and for how long), it’s your job to learn as much as you can about your destination. What challenges do the people there face? How will you be helping? You might have a range of duties on your trip, which can vary by region.
Learn about the history of where you’ll be working and read up on current events. Try to learn about everything from the basics of the language to what constitutes a polite greeting. Becoming familiar with your destination before you arrive will help your trip to go more smoothly and allow you to more quickly build trust with those you’ll be serving.
And Be Sure to Prepare for Cultural Changes
Learning about your destination includes learning about the culture—from its food to its customs. It isn’t fair or appropriate to expect local people to adapt to your culture, and it’s easy to come off as ignorant or rude during your interactions if you haven’t taken the time to prepare for cultural changes. You need to be the one to adapt!
Take some time to learn as much as you can about cultural norms and values. That way, you’ll be able to interact politely and provide high-quality patient-centered care for a diverse patient base while expanding your ability to adapt and communicate.
Start Preparing Earlier Rather Than Later!
Even if your mission trip is a long way off, it’s a good idea to start on preparation as soon as possible. That way, you won’t be rushing to get things done in the days before you go. Find out if you need to get any vaccinations or visas and make sure you’re following all the steps outlined by the organization you’re working with. Check for any travel alerts and make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months longer than you’ll be gone.
You should also take care of some practical things well in advance. Make a packing list and buy any items you’ll need as soon as possible. Remember, you may need to bring things like toilet paper and laundry soap, as these necessities might not be readily available. Make sure you’ve prepared your home for your departure and arrange for someone to take you to the airport on the day of your departure. These arrangements don’t all have to be made right away, but it’s good to get started early and to make a list right away.
Getting ready for a medical mission can be stressful. But if you start early and stay consistent, you’ll be on your way with less stress, ready to serve, learn, and grow!