After hearing all of my pathophysiology instructor's stories about her mission trip to Africa through a different university, my interests have definitely been piqued.
Since then, I've been on the hunt for my own medical mission trip. I'm looking for something short; less than 2 weeks, and during the summer time, probably 2013 after my own classes.
The problem is that I cannot seem to find one that is not affiliated with religion. It seems like all of them are doing a wonderful job of helping the sick and poor in providing medical care, but then the underlying theme is to spread the word of Jesus Christ. Listen, that's all fine and dandy, but I cannot go along with that. I don't believe in any of that and I would feel incredibly uncomfortable, cynical, and annoyed if I had to sit around and preach, pray, or try to convert people to some superstitious ideology. Or even just listen to it...at all. To clarify, I know that if/when I go to these countries, they will have their own religions and I may even participate in some way based out of respect for another culture. I get that.
Why can't people just want to help others out of the goodness of the heart because it is the right thing to do for mankind, as opposed to for religion? Hm?!
So, that being said. ahem.
I did find one organization that goes to Africa, specifically for nurses. I'm not going to give away the name of the organization, but a google search will provide immediate results. Based on their website, it doesn't seem religious. Of course, now that I've received the application, it does contain some quotes from the bible, which...fine, whatever. They apply to the situation, I suppose. I can deal with that. But then the application asks about our willingness to attend a "Christian worship service as part of the experience...if not, explain." Ok, well, it seems as if they're giving me a way to opt out. I mean, I could be Jewish or Muslim. I doubt they would accept the whole atheist thing, though.
I have emailed back to inquire further into their religious affiliation. Awaiting a reply.
There is still hope for my dream of going on a medical mission trip.
I happened to email my instructor and ask about opportunities through the university, and she reminded me that every summer, as part of the undergraduate Community rotation, they go to Panama for 3 weeks. I remember this! I wanted to go so badly, but alas, I was broke. She did mention that a few graduate students have gone in the past. Score!! A way in?
I emailed the director.
(the same woman who "pinned" me during our graduation ceremony...)
I spoke with her by phone a few weeks ago. Before we spoke, I looked at my schedule. During summer 2013, I will be in my Women's health rotation. PERFECT. I know that they provide tons of women's health services when they go to Panama. Perhaps I would be able to fulfill some of my clinical hours?
She thought this sounded like a wonderful idea, and even better, the Women's health instructor had expressed the desire to go, as well. Maybe she could be your preceptor? Even better!
Since the time is so far away, and I'm still so new in my graduate classes, everything is up in the air. But I'm going to hold out hope that it works out.
Also, the Africa trip is $3200. The Panama trip: $1200. And I could get credits for clinical hours, so that's even more of an incentive. I have to admit though, going to Africa just sounds way cooler. The downside to the trip to Panama is the length--3 weeks. That would be difficult with taking time off from work.
If anyone reading this knows of a medical mission trip that is not religiously affiliated, please comment! Or, if you've been on your own medical mission trip, I'd love to hear about it.