5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2013
I'm interested in public health along with medicine and want to serve abroad for 3 months as a public health fellow with a healthcare organization. I can also do longer term work with the same organization, or different organizations. I'm just really into primary care on a global level, so service abroad interests me. I've also done a lot of service in the US, so it's not like I'm trying to make up for a deficiency in my app. I don't have to pay for this 'mission trip' other than airline tickets, and its purely volunteer work. Would adcoms still look down upon me for doing this? I've heard that such service activities have a negative stigma in admissions, but I'm not sure how true this is…

Pagan FutureDoc

2+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2015
MD/PhD Student
There are two problems I typically see with medical mission trips.
1.) the students go to some third world country and perform procedures they would never be able to in the US
2.) the short term nature of these trips don't actually help improve local health care/access to health care.

Also it's not that medical missions are bad, it's that premeds vastly overestimate the value these have to your application.

Do it if you want to but don't go in expecting it to be the cornerstone of your app. (This isn't aimed at you OP per se, just general advice)


the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
Academic Administration
Three months is much different than one week. Public health with a healthcare organization is different than working with a sponsor in the "business" of ferrying volunteers to remote villages to sing songs to orphans and make amateur attempts at building structures that will be torn down and rebuilt by the next group of volunteers.

One question: how does one do primary care on a global level? Primary care means taking care of people one at a time and providing longitudinal care. How do you do that globally?
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