The impact of short term volunteer international mission trips on volunteers and patients
Chileuitt, Karen Andrea
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Short-term volunteer mission trips account for an important aspect of global health care. The demand and desire to attend a mission trip has grown over the past decade. Self-fulfillment, altruism and philanthropy are said to be the motivating factors behind mission trips. In the present study, the motivation behind abroad short-term volunteer mission trips will be further researched and reported on. Mission trips to third-world countries, providing volunteer healthcare and oral health education have gained much popularity across the United States since their start in the 1980s. These trips are seen as selfless yet self-fulfilling opportunities. The benefits of these short-term volunteer mission trips will be evaluated in this thesis.Some characteristics that make mission trips valuable include the benefits experienced by patients, who would normally not have access to care and also by volunteer participants, who are able to give back to marginalized populations. More recently, the roles of physicians (and dentists) have been studied. Along with studying clinician’s roles on the trips, students’ educational experiences have been examined. Information on various perspectives have been written and are accompanied by a considerable amount of supporting information. Of these arguable points, many consist of discussing the enlargement of educational opportunities. By being a part of these mission’s trips, students can gain valuable skills for their future careers. Cross-cultural experiences during the trips are another alluring aspect for students. As supported by evidence, cultural awareness in the medical and dental field has had a great impact on volunteers. So much so that access to clinical experiences while abroad balances out the needs for the community while serving as a unique educational opportunity to students. The increasing popularity of volunteer trips providing third-world countries with access to healthcare has come with both advantages and disadvantages. The pitfalls and risks of volunteering abroad will be discussed including the drawbacks that include ethical dilemmas. In addition, issues with the infrastructure and framework of the visited country’s health care system are considered. This literature review takes a comprehensive look at medical/dental mission trips of all healthcare fields and proceeds to evaluate associated studies in which patients’ benefits, cross-cultural experiences and providers’ and students’ roles are affected by them.