Either you have all the time in the world to do things like when you’re a student and have summer break, or you’re working and have a paycheck but no longer have the time to take off.
If you’re the former and are interested in doing a medical mission but don’t have the funds to do it, there are a few options for you to help finance a trip.
Financing a Medical Mission Trip on a Limited Budget
If you have not had the chance to go on a medical mission trip, it is a great chance to help those who are in need and remember why we all do this. As a part of the PA program that I attended, we went down to Costa Rica to learn Spanish and work in an underserved part of the country.
In a week's time I didn’t learn much Spanish, but what I did learn is that healthcare in other parts of the country is much different than in the U.S. and there are a lot of people in the world that don’t have access to medicine as we do.
During our time there we volunteered at a small clinic. There was no fancy EMR. The small amount of record keeping that was done was just for what the clinic needed. Treatment options were limited to what the previous group had brought with them. We saw a patient that had a UTI and needed antibiotics.
The previous group had brought some Bactrim so that what was what was in stock. There were no options for fancy labs and sensitivities. Once we decided on treating the patient we had to go to the stock room and count out the pills ourselves. No Walgreens in third world countries. No prior authorizations. No insurance. It was an eye-opening experience and a chance to see how fortunate we really are.
If you’re thinking about applying to PA school, going on a medical mission’s trip can help you build your resume and gain valuable experience. If your passion is to help those in need and abroad, joining a short-term trip can help you get your feet wet before making a longer-term commitment. If you have the time to take off and are interested in joining a medical mission team here are some ideas to help pay for the trip.
Scholarships for Medical Missions
A good resource for PAs or PA students interested in medical mission is PAs for Global Health (PAGH). PAGH is a non-profit organization that wants to help PAs interested in working in medically underserved areas around the globe. They offer four scholarships of $350 for students who are doing an international rotation and two scholarships for fellow members of PAGH for $500. You can join as a fellow member for $50 per year, and you have access to Global Health Opportunities Database. For more information or to apply for the scholarship, you can visit the PAGH website.
Tami Fisk Mission Travel Grant Fund is a grant offered through the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA). Individuals are awarded $1,000 per year, and it is renewable for three years. The travel grant is for those who are specifically interested in serving in East Asia.
Another opportunity through CMDA is the Naomi Kim Medical Missions Scholarship. This student scholarship is for first-time participants of Global Health Outreach short-term medical missions. You must be a CMDA member to apply for this, and the amount you are awarded can be up to $500.
Crowdfunding Medical Missions
There are some opportunities to fund your trip through scholarships, but they often cover only a portion your costs and can be hard to find. If you’re still looking for other ways to finance a medical mission trip another option is to ask others around you who might be willing to support you.
There are a lot of options online to help you with fundraising. You can create a fundraising campaign for almost anything these days, and a medical mission’s trip is a great reason to do this. YouCaring is one of these sites. YouCaring is unique because they do not charge fees like other platforms.
Asking for money can be awkward but often there are people you know who are willing to support a good cause and this can be a great way to help cover the cost of a medical mission trip.
- YouCaring: YouCaring caters to several different crowdfunding categories, from education to disaster relief to medical expenses. To make your online fundraising experience more manageable, they offer live chat for customer service as well as daily access to your funds. YouCaring is the only platform on this list that will never charge a fee because they know that every dollar counts. Like all other crowdfunding sites, small payment processor fees do apply.
- GoFundMe: People can organize crowdfunding campaigns for various categories, from personal to charitable causes. Its simple interface allows users to share their campaign via social channels easily. They take a 5 percent fee per transaction, and there is a 2.9 percent payment processor fee.
- Crowdrise: Crowdrise focuses on assisting people to raise money for charitable causes. They do not have a goal requirement or deadlines. You can earn Impact Points when you donate to causes on their site. The site has a 5.9 percent platform fee plus a 2.9 percent credit card fee. But they do offer donors the chance to cover these fees.
Don't forget to communicate
Share your crowdfunding link with all of your family and friends via social media. Keep them updated with regular posts about how your fundraising efforts are going, and post videos, photos and information about where you’re going, and what you’ll be doing.
Ask your friends and family to pass the link on to their friends or followers on social media too – you never know, you might even start trending! Call your local newspaper. Ask them to write an article about your upcoming trip, with details on how to sponsor you.
You might also want to consider a more traditional approach. Put pen to paper; write to local businesses requesting a donation for your trip. You could also contact organizations and charities which offer grants for educational travel experiences.
Consider crowdfunding with a service mission
Spend time volunteering in the local community. Help at a nursing home, or offer to assist elderly neighbors with chores. You could do their shopping, help with the gardening or offer to wash their dishes. Ask friends and family to sponsor you for each hour of community service you do.
Get a Job
It might sound obvious, but a good starting point for any fundraiser is finding a part-time job.
Finding a job in the healthcare field will allow you to start saving little by little and guarantee a definite source of income to go towards your trip. You will also be building up the necessary healthcare experience hours you need to be a competitive PA school applicant.
You won’t necessarily be able to reach your total financial goal by working part-time, so consider using this in combination with some of the other fundraising activities listed here to give you a boost.
Sell Your Wares
There are endless opportunities to raise money by selling your wares. Consider a classic bake sale, garage sale, crafting for a local market, help a pre-PA blog by offering to write or research articles, or provide jobs for your neighbors for a small fee.
There are also loads of websites around that buy your unwanted belongings, so if you have any DVDs or CDs that aren’t being used, you might as well make money from them! I have used Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to sell everything from an old audio receiver to my used car with 350,000 miles.
Whatever you choose to sell, you’re sure to make some cash and might even have a laugh with your local community in the process! Check out this list of 101 amazing fundraising ideas if you need some help getting started.
Burn Calories for Cash
Nothing seems to draw in sponsors like a sporting event!
Run a marathon, climb a mountain, organize a soccer tournament or even hop on an exercise bike for an endurance test! Whatever you opt for, get all your friends and family involved in promoting it – the more people who know about it, the more sponsors you’ll receive.
If you are a part of a church or other organization that supports medical missions they may have a budget for purposes like this. You can reach out to your pastor or church board member to see if this is the case.
Often churches support missionaries and might be willing to support your short-term medical mission trip, especially if it is for someone who is involved in the organization. They may already have plans for supporting certain missionaries, but it’s worth asking about.
Faith Based Medical Mission Sites That Offer Financial Assistance:
- Christian Medical and Dental Association: Financial Assistance for items such as travel, food, lodging, costs and medical supplies. There are opportunities for pre-PAs and PAs in 25+ countries in North Africa, Middle East, and Asia.
- United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Southeast Jurisdiction: Financial Assistance for items such as travel, food, lodging, costs and medical supplies. Internationally, PAs will be able to treat patients and prescribe medication as long as a physician is on the team. There are opportunities as well for pre-PAs and those without prior medical experience.
Members of Physician Assistants for Global Health gain access to their entire database of faith-based (and non-faith-based) medical missions programs specific to PAs with the ability to sort opportunities based on your desired experience and particular needs.
The Value of Global Health Service
As a medical provider, you are in a unique position to help those who are in need. Working in the U.S. we often get caught up in the politics of medicine, how Obamacare or the next change to our health care system will affect us, how we can get a treatment authorized or even what treatment we should give.
If you have not had the opportunity to do a medical mission, don’t let finances get in the way, find an organization to go with, set up a budget and look for scholarships or other ways to finance your trip.