Global Brigades is an international non-profit that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams.
The largest student-led movement for global health
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I am a pre-health student and I am interested in learning more about what it means to pursue a career in medicine. How can Global Medical Brigades help me?
Global Brigades is a fantastic opportunity for pre-health students, or anyone interested in pursuing a career in the health field. Our Medical Brigades offer leaders the role to mobilize peers, to travel abroad, and to gain practical medical experience in rural communities in Central America and West Africa. Our one-week Medical Brigades allows students the opportunity to shadow local Honduran, Nicaraguan Panamanian or Ghanaian doctors, work in the pharmacies, perform triage — all aspects of a mobile medical clinic. The experience is invaluable for both personal and professional growth. Additionally, brigades serve as great topics for medical school application essays and as résumé items for volunteers’ professional development.
Can you tell me more about what I would be doing if I volunteered for a medical brigade?
Medical Brigade volunteers travel to Central America or West Africa to participate in a one-week medical clinic in remote communities that lack basic healthcare. Global Medical Brigades allows volunteers to participate in the various activities of the mobile medical clinic. This includes helping triage and take vital signs, shadowing licensed doctors and professionals in consultations, working in the pharmacy to fill the medicines under pharmacist supervision, and facilitating health education workshops. Volunteers with all levels of experience and skills are welcome and encouraged to participate in our Medical Brigades.
Healthcare professionals’ roles vary, please click here to learn more about the roles of healtcare professionals on brigades.
Will I be able to actually work directly with patients? I want more patient contact.
If you want more patient contact as an undergraduate, Medical Brigades provides a unique opportunity for you to work closely with patients in communities. The students will be able to shadow licensed medical professionals as they give full consultations, observe doctors as they prescribe medications for patients, and assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions.
Licensed healthcare professionals may be permitted to work directly with patients. Click here to learn more about the roles of healthcare professionals on brigades.
I want to do more than just watch a doctor. Will I actually be able to participate in the examination and discuss potential diagnosis with the doctor?
Specific volunteer experiences vary between brigades. Many of our doctors have been trained to create an inclusive and collaborative environment with the students. We encourage all our doctors to make the Medical Brigades an educational experience for the students, while still providing efficient and effective care for our patients.
For patient safety, no volunteers will be allowed to do procedures that they are not licensed to do in their home countries.
How is Global Brigades different from other medical volunteering programs I’ve heard about?
Global Brigades is unique in many ways. First, Global Brigades acts as an empowering movement by offering a Holistic Model for sustainable development and healthcare in the communities we serve. Unlike other organizations, we not only support our volunteers but also have an on-the-ground team that works with the communities to improve community health year-round. Global Brigades combats health discrepancies in our communities not only through medical clinics, but also through public health and water infrastructure projects. We also send Medical/Dental Brigades to our partner communities every 3-6 months in order to provide sustainable medical care, until the community has the infrastructure to provide care to patients.
I am a medical student or medical resident. Can I participate as a healthcare professional?
This varies from country to country. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Is there a minimum or maximum number of volunteers for groups?
For University Chapters, there is a minimum 25 volunteers. To fairly serve the community’s needs, this number is non-negotiable. There is no maximum volunteer number. Non-undergraduate university Chapters- please contact email@example.com.
Where do the funds I raise go?
Volunteers work together with their chapter to fundraise for their individual contributions. Each individual program contribution includes everything needed for the medical brigade: medicine, equipment, local doctors, local dentists, pharmacists, translators, support staff, ground transportation, food, lodging, public health construction materials and emergency medical insurance. Airfare not included.
Is this safe?
The safety of the student volunteers is Global Brigades’ number one priority and is the single most important consideration when entering a community or choosing a project. Each country that Global Brigades serves in has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease any risk of danger and to ensure that any emergency can be properly handled in a prompt and professional manner. For more information on safety precautions, emergency procedures and insurance information, please visit Safety and Insurance on the Volunteer Resource Site.
This sounds great. How do I get involved?
First, find out if your school has a Medical Brigades Chapter by searching for your school on the Chapters tab. If your school does not have a Chapter, click the Be A Chapter President button to fill out an application to start a chapter. You will be connected with a Chapter Advisor.