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Medical Missions : Open Your World. Barbara J. Connor, MD June 13, 2014. Objectives. Describe what a Medical Mission is Provide anecdotal experiences Describe opportunities for Medical Mission.

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Medical Missions: Open Your World

Barbara J. Connor, MD

June 13, 2014


  • Describe what a Medical Mission is

  • Provide anecdotal experiences

  • Describe opportunities for Medical Mission

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

Margaret Mead

Historical Context

  • Traveled world as a young girl: Central America, Europe, and Asia

  • Grew up surrounded by philanthropy and volunteerism: Parents

  • Attended girls boarding school: friends from around the world

  • How I came to do Medical Missions: the opportunity in El Salvador

Types of Medical Missions

Providers going to the people

Clinic exists so people travel to see providers






Doctors without Borders

Cruise ships

  • Locum Tenens

Characteristics of Effective Missions

  • Don’t superimpose American model of Medicine

    • Honor their values

    • Meet them where they are

    • Respect their physicians and the limited resources they have

  • Allow yourself to be a student of what can be learned from their way of life

  • The meaning of “happiness” is something to be witnessed

  • What you don’t want is medical tourisms; dumping medicine and/or supplies on them; medical experimentation

  • El Salvador

    • We always need volunteers

    • Respect their normal

    • Recognize our riches

    • World is our neighborhood

    • Accept responsibility for being a student for the rest of our life; patients are our best teachers

    • Going back year after year to see progress and that we’ve made a difference;

    • Furthered honed ability to know when to worry!

    El Salvador

    • Worked to bring all possible aspects of care:

      • Medicine

      • Dental

      • Ophthalmologic

      • Psychiatric

      • Patient Education

      • Domestic violence

      • Birth control

      • Nutrition

  • Care can only be as good as your cultural sensitivity and the skill of your translators

    • PTSD/mental health

  • New Zealand

    • “Place holder”

    • Loved working in a different health care system/framework to understand policy and administration

    • Gained appreciation for changes being made in U.S. – especially universal coverage

    • Loved seeing how another well to do culture deals with disease and illness

      • “She’ll be right” vs. entitled, dependent care

      • Used physical exam as diagnostic tool vs. CT

    South Sudan

    • Resilience:

      • never give up and impossible is what you choose not to do

  • Four hours for me to fly where the boys walked

  • Volume of suffering and poverty

  • Telemedicine

  • Reaffirmation of the privilege of our vocation and avocation

  • 0pportunities for Medical Missions Private Organizations

    • Religious Affiliations

      • Mission of Miracles

      • Hands at Work

  • Community Organizations

    • Doctors without Borders

    • Nurses for Africa

    • Unite for Sight

  • Academic Organizations

    • Medical Schools

    • Crouse

  • Opportunities for Medical Missions Public Organizations

    • Government

      • CDC

    • International

      • WHO

    Local Opportunities to Help Global Efforts



    • June 22, 2014: Fund raiser for John Dau Foundation at Allyn Arena, Skaneateles, NY

    Grass Root Efforts

    • Remain humble to find the help and resources

    • Be content with what you can do but give of your gifts

    • Partner, collaborate

    • Listen

    • Allow

    • Always trying to support what’s already there and don’t need to reinvent the wheel

      • World Food Program (WFP)

      • Johnson and Johnson

      • United Nations


    • Nike: Just Do It!

    • “Done is better than perfect”

    • If you think of it, do it!

    • Impossible is what you choose not to do!

    Thank You

    • Questions?

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