Best practices for medical missions: evaluate your last volunteer abroad experience

May 9, 2017 | Christopher Dainton

You can now use our directory of over 300 volunteer opportunities to find and rate short-term medical missions to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Volunteer at a medical missions clinic in Latin America

Our virtual round-table on best practices for medical missions, medical service trips, and other short-term volunteer projects abroad is complete. Despite the challenges of multiple stakeholder groups (with competing motives, experiences, and values), our experts reached agreement on 18 core best practices for medical projects abroad, organized into six categories: Sustainability, Preparedness, Education, Impact, Efficiency, and Cost-effectiveness.

We made a handy infographic of our results – feel free to share.

Best practices for medical missions and MSTs


Why publish the quality of volunteer medical missions?

As a recently graduated doctor, I had no idea what to look for in a volunteer trip, nor where to look for one. There were hundreds of opportunities listed on such sites as and, but beyond word of mouth, no way to know whether they were ethical or effective. While the 18 items on our list are not comprehensive, they make a great starting point for volunteers who are looking for a well-planned experience that they can support in good conscience.

Remote mobile medical mission clinic in Latin America
How you can support best practices on medical missions abroad

Take 5 minutes to review your last medical volunteer experience, using the simple self-audit tool on our website. If you’re a program administrator, you’re even more vital to this project – since you’re in the best position to accurately describe your group’s activities. We’d love your feedback on the clarity of our survey tool and the current scoring system, which is likely to evolve as we obtain more ratings from site users.

Read more about Medical Service Trip’s objectives and the future of our directory of short-term volunteer opportunities here. And if you operate a short-term, primary care medical service trip and don’t see your organization in this database, please let us know!




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