If you’re thinking about a career in medical missions, taking a medical missions trip as part of your professional and spiritual journey makes a lot of sense. You can never underestimate the benefits of a medical mission trip. It’s a great step toward fulfilling God’s call on your life.
As you think about the benefits of a medical missions trip, it would help to get a solid handle on what that actually entails. Different people might have different ideas about what medical missions is all about, so doing a little reading and research to establish your own expectations can be valuable.
In general, medical missions connect healthcare professionals with people who need their unique skills. And the door is wide open to a variety of medical professionals. While we often think about medical doctors and nurses, medical missions work also includes the skills of physical therapists, dentists, optometrists, mental health experts, educators, physician’s assistants and many more. The opportunities are so broad because the needs are so great.
That’s one reason medical mission trips are so important. You get to be a part of something bigger than yourself while fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus found in Matthew 28:18-20. Below are ten benefits of medical mission trips. Each one will give you a great reason to explore missions and discover ways to touch the lives of individuals as you minister to their deepest needs.
Medical missionaries reach people at their weakest points. They provide care in ways other missionaries simply can’t, and that makes their lives and their ministries incredibly fulfilling. But while medical missions meet deep physical and spiritual needs, they also provide benefits for the ones doing the work. And, as you take part in a medical mission trip, you can experience those benefits in the following ways:
Whether you’re a pre-med undergraduate or a seasoned medical professional, medical mission trips, offer a taste of what medical missions are all about. Nothing can replace the experience you will get working in clinics or in local hospitals. You will get an honest view of both the blessings of the work and the sacrifices it requires. When it comes to firsthand experience, nothing else compares.
In a sense, you’ll get the benefit of ministering to two different groups of people. First, you’ll help the medical professionals on site. The needs are so great that an extra pair of hands willing to do even the smallest tasks can make a huge difference. Of course, you’ll also get to help the local people who need physical and spiritual healing. In terms of being Jesus’s hands and feet in a tangible way, you can’t diminish the impact medical missions have.
You can read about needs and healthcare gaps around the world. You can even talk to medical missionaries who are working to bridge those gaps. But nothing helps you understand the current state of global health care better than seeing it for yourself. Even more important, medical mission trips allow you to be part of the solution instead of just being a student who studies the problem.
Admittedly, the idea of world travel and seeing exotic places can fuel false motives for some. But if God has pointed your heart toward medical missions, getting the chance to leave your comfort zone and see the world through the eyes of Jesus is invaluable. Instead of fostering first-world arrogance, these experiences produce humility and flexibility. It teaches you to grow where you are planted, which will be a necessary character quality as you move forward with God’s plans.
While you believe God has called you to medical missions, you may not be sure exactly what you should do or where you should do it. One of the benefits of medical mission trips is the exposure you gain to various opportunities and how they might fit into God’s call for your life. And, as you gain a clearer vision of His plans, you will get a better handle on what you need to do to prepare for your next steps. But that all starts with being part of a medical mission trip.
One of the cool things about God is that He often moves people into our lives with an eye toward the future. The relationships you are building now can make a huge difference in where you end up in the years to come. A core benefit of medical mission trips is that you build relationships with a strong network of supporters and encouragers. You also may get the chance to connect with mentors who have the perfect mix of experience and insight and can make your path toward missions smoother.
It’s been said that practice makes perfect. And while a medical missions setting may not always easy, it does provide a perfect place to hone the skills you need to be at your best in the future. Students get the chance to learn new things, and professionals gain the knowledge they can transfer to their domestic practices. In both cases, medical mission team members get better at what they do for God’s glory.
Of course, you don’t want to approach a medical missions trip simply as something to add to your resume. However, you also shouldn’t discount the impact these experiences can have on things like applications to medical schools or future career positions. This kind of real-life experience is a practical benefit of these kinds of trips that go hand-in-hand with the ministry you get to do.
Like other missionaries, many medical missionaries are associated with a sending agency. Working through the process of applying for and participating in a medical missions trip can be your first exposure to the task of researching agencies and finding the right fit for you. Even if you don’t stick with the same agency later in your career, this experience will help you identify what to look for—and what to avoid—when you are ready to embrace your own medical missions adventure.
Without a doubt, you can make a tremendous difference in the kingdom of God through a medical mission trip. Even short-term opportunities give you the chance to touch people in ways you could never have if you had stayed home. But one of the greatest benefits of a medical mission trip is the way God can use it to change your life. It’s hard to invest in the lives of others without dying to yourself and becoming a little more like Jesus. And that’s a benefit that resonates into eternity.
Of course, there’s a catch to all of this: you really can’t experience the benefits of medical mission trips unless you go on one for yourself. If you’ve never gone on a trip, now is the perfect time to start planning to take this step of faith. Even if you’ve gone on trips in the past, God may be calling you to travel again.
Remember, you don’t have to wait to change the world for God’s kingdom. You can do it right now. So, take some time to pray about what God wants you to do and look for opportunities He might provide.
The benefits can change your life—and the lives of so many others.
Medical Missions serves to connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.