10 Best Medical Mission Trips for College Students

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Most believers are familiar with Jesus’s command to share the gospel around the world. And for many Christian college students, mission trips have been a part of their spiritual upbringing and experience. But for those interested in global health care, medical mission trips for college students provide a variety of benefits.

For example, medical mission trips can give college students valuable on-the-job training. Regardless of their specialty—medicine, pharmacology, nutrition, nursing, and so forth—medical mission trips give college students the opportunity to work with professionals in the field and to get a feel for what their future might hold. Whether traveling as a team or as an individual, medical mission trips for college students can be valuable.

But even if a student is on the fence about pursuing a career in health care, medical mission trips can be great for volunteers. In general, this generation longs to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and a medical mission trip fits that bill perfectly. Whether they seek a clinical setting or have more interest in education or prevention, many students can find value in medical mission trips for college students. 


Researching Medical Mission Trips for College Students

Whatever their interest in terms of medical mission trips, college students need to do their research. The sheer number of sending partners and the opportunities provided by those partners require some careful study. You will want to find the best fit in terms of location, duration, cost, and specialty.

The list below includes ten organizations with a history of providing medical mission trips for college students. But each one has its own requirements and standards. So, you will need to do more research to see if one of these groups—or another group—works for you.

1. Your Christian College or University. One of the best places to start in a search for a medical mission trip as a college student is to see what’s available close to home. Most Christian colleges provide opportunities for short-term mission trips, including some that could provide college credit. Some of those options include medical mission trips for their students. For example, both Lipscomb University and Liberty University offer medical mission trips for their students. 

2. International Volunteer HQ. This organization provides opportunities for a wide variety of healthcare professions. IVHQ allows students to connect with their specialty, with the goal of providing basic health care to groups living in areas of the world where such care is lacking.
3. Samaritan’s Purse. This familiar and trusted organization is probably best known for distributing shoeboxes at Christmas. But Samaritan’s Purse also provides opportunities for college students to experience medical mission trips through its World Medical Mission. 

4. International Medical Relief. Focusing on various areas of medical services, International Medical Relief provides opportunities for medical students and volunteers. The goal is to minister to underserved people, but a student does not have to be studying for a medical professional to find a place to serve.

5. Mercy Ships. This mission partner provides a unique experience for students interested in medical mission trips. Working on the premise that most of the world’s population lives near the sea, Mercy Ships operates floating hospitals. In addition, the cross-cultural experience extends beyond the medical ministry since the ship’s crew draws volunteers from all over the world.

6. Plan My Gap Year. Based in the United Kingdom, Plan My Gap Year has been offering medical mission trips for college students for over a decade. Volunteers can pick a plan that fits their interests, including those with limited medical training or experience. The trips last from two weeks to six months.

7. Medical Missions Outreach. This is another organization that encourages non-medical volunteers to participate. Medical Missions Outreach offers students clinical experiences, but the group also focuses on education and prevention. These short-term trips typically run from a week to 10 days.

8. Nursing Beyond Borders. This organization focuses on the roles of nurses, including nurse practitioners. The care provided includes medical, dental, and optical assistance. In addition, Nurses Beyond Borders primarily serves children, especially orphans. They minister in areas such as education, treatment, and disease prevention through a network of clinics and shelters.

9. Mission of Hope. Focusing on the Caribbean region, Mission of Hope serves southern Florida, as well as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The organization’s stated purpose includes transforming struggling cultures by meeting physical and spiritual needs through medical treatment, prevention, and nutrition. Mission of Hope provides mission trips for college students studying to be doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists, EMTs, and more. The trips, which last from one week to six months, support brick-and-mortar clinics, as well as mobile clinics.

10. Ssamba Foundation. Just as Mission of Hope targets the Caribbean, Ssamba limits its work to a particular region of Uganda. Working with a network of national hospitals, Ssamba offers treatment in smaller communities for diseases that commonly afflict residents in the area, including AIDS/HIV. Position placement is based on experience, so college students often shadow experienced doctors, along with taking part in various community initiatives. Ssamba typically asks for a four-week commitment, but it will consider shorter experiences on a case-by-case basis.


Reaching the World

God uses all kinds of mission opportunities to share His message with a world that desperately needs to hear it. Medical missions are a vital part of His plan, which is why so many groups are involved in providing medical mission trips for college students. 

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