The key to a smooth and successful medical mission trip is proper planning. With over 6,000 medical mission trips occurring every year, Americans churches and humanitarian groups have enabled countless individuals to enjoy a higher quality of life by providing desperately needed health care. By taking the time to secure cost-effective portable equipment and prepare for their overseas travel, mission groups can help ensure that they encounter no hitches as they provide medical assistance to underserved populations. Below are twelve tips to help medical missionaries succeed as they travel across the globe to spread the gospel and help people in need.
1) Begin sourcing the medical equipment you need well in advance of your trip
Most medical equipment suppliers require time to prepare and ship orders. If you wait until the last minute to begin shopping for medical equipment, you might not be able to obtain the items you need to treat patients.
2) Ask equipment providers if they offer discounts for medical mission purchases
Some medical equipment companies offer discounted pricing for medical mission groups and non-profit agencies. Others periodically donate equipment to mission groups. Make sure that you inquire about these possibilities before you proceed with a purchase.
3) See your travel health provider at least a month before your trip
A trusted travel health provider will help ensure that you have received the proper vaccinations that you need prior to entering certain countries. Schedule a visit to your local travel health provider at least six to eight weeks before you travel to ensure that your health is protected.
4) Focus your efforts on securing portable equipment
Sourcing equipment that is compact and lightweight offers a number of benefits. Portable anesthesia machines, monitors, and cautery units are easier to transport by plane and car, and do not exceed airline weight limits. They can often be transported in a carry-on bag to enable you to hit the ground and help people faster.
5) Make sure that you test your equipment prior to your departure
Waiting until you arrive at your destination to familiarize yourself with new medical equipment can halt your productivity. Before you leave home, power up your medical equipment to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Consider replacing accessories such as blood pressure cuffs, batteries, sensors, and cables.
6) Focus on the essentials
Narrowing down the list of medical equipment to take on your mission can be challenging. In addition to space and weight limitations, you likely have a specified equipment budget that you must adhere to. By focusing on the essential items needed for diagnoses, treatment, and procedures, you can prioritize your equipment list to ensure that you have the tools to help as many patients as possible.
7) Choose equipment that is dual voltage
Not all countries have the same power requirements. Some countries have 110-volt power outlets while others feature 220-volt power outlets. Failure to use medical equipment that is compatible with the voltage requirements of the country you plan to visit can blow a fuse or destroy your equipment. You can avoid this pitfall by using surgical equipment that will function in countries with both 110-volt and 220-volt power requirements.
8) Measure and weigh your bags prior to leaving your home
Most airlines impose a 50-pound weight limit on checked bags. Size restrictions for carry-on bags are also a factor to consider. If you are not able to fit all of your medical equipment into one bag, you can keep some items in your checked bags and place others in your carry-on bag.
9) Provide electronic and hard copies of user manuals
One of the greatest challenges facing overseas healthcare communities is a reluctance to learn how to use medical equipment that is delivered or donated. Many overseas healthcare providers are accustomed to using medical equipment that is decades old. It is a good idea to bring plenty of operators’ manuals as newer products can be intimidating to many overseas healthcare workers.
10) Bring spare accessories if possible
Medical missions often involve visits to communities that are isolated and impoverished. Such communities often do not have the resources to obtain necessary accessories and consumables in the future. You can help provide ongoing healthcare following your departure by carrying a stockpile of accessories with you on your trip.
11) Take plenty of photos during your trips
Medical mission groups often have a profound impact on the communities they visit. Capturing the experience with before and after photos is a wonderful way to create lasting memories of your medical missions and share the ways that you are positively impacting lives. Additionally, individuals who are able to see photos of your mission in action are more likely to be moved to donate funds, equipment, or resources to your organization.
12) Enlist the guidance of an experienced travel management company
An experienced travel management company will help your church or humanitarian organization plan a glitch-free medical mission trip. Whether you are in charge of planning a mission trip or simply planning to participate in one for the first time, a professional ministry travel company can help your organization prepare for your mission and enjoy 45% savings on airline travel. Additionally, a travel management company can provide you with helpful resources and strategies to fund your mission.
Clearly, there are many steps you can take to set the stage for a successful medical mission trip. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that your next medical mission is smooth and productive.