Asking the Right Questions
As mentioned in a previous post, I am writing this series of posts, and the to book follow, because I believe that most health care professionals wanting to serve in long-term missions are asking the wrong questions. But what are the right questions? This set of questions deals with matching with a health facility or program as a medical missionary. The first post about this list of questions was designed to help you discern through which organization to serve. This post is about how to select a place to serve. How to find the best fit for you and your family on the field as a medical missionary.
It goes without saying these two posts may be interrelated. As you read and process this list of questions, it may also direct you toward, or exclude, certain mission organizations.
To truly thrive on the field means finding the right fit. It means finding a place where you and your family can stay emotionally spiritually and physically healthy while serving. This is essential for long-term success in medical missions and it does not always happen the first place you choose to serve. You can read more about this in my last post Choosing Where to Serve as a Medical Missionary.
So here are a few questions that we hope will help you determine if you and your family are a good match at a specific facility or health program. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of questions. Rather it is meant to inspire your thinking about questions you may not have thought about. There are likely questions you will think of that relate to your specific needs as an individual or family. I would encourage you to write them down and file them away, there are no questions that are off limits. You are about to commit to living and working in the same place, with the same group of people, for at least the next few years of your life. So ask away.
More questions for the mission organization:
How many hospitals or health programs sites are there in the region where I feel called to serve?
Will you be permitted to investigate all the facilities in the region (ie interview and make site visits) to determine the best fit for you and your family?
Can you choose to serve as a missionary at a facility not presently associated with the sending mission?
Are you limited to facilities that your mission directly controls? Or already has missionaries serving in that location?
Do you have the freedom or ability to relocate or move to another facility if your first choice for a duty station is not a good fit? Or you identify a place of greater need where you feel called? Is so what are the options?
Questions for the facility leadership:
What is the vacation, CME/CEU leave, and furlough policies? And are they acceptable?
What are the on-call responsibilities and how many hours per week are you expected to work in the hospital or health program? Is there an allotment for administrative time to keep up communication with donors?
Are you expected to live on the hospital grounds or in the community? What is the housing like? How far do you have to travel for shopping and supplies? Where is the closest place to escape to for rest away from the mission station?
If the facility is a fee for service hospital is there some allocation for patients who cannot pay? Are patients ever turned away because of their inability to pay?
If it is a mission run hospital are there national physicians or clinical officers working there? Or is all the care being provided by missionary physicians with local nursing staff?
Is it an all national facility with no expat or missionary physicians or nurses? Is there any kind of clinical education for national healthcare providers happening?
What is the spiritual climate of the mission community? Is there a strong biblical community among the staff and missionaries? Is there a hospital chaplaincy helping serve the spiritual needs of patients? Do physicians and nurses pray with the patients?
If you have children, what are the best schooling options at the location? Is there a mission school or co-op program? Is homeschooling the only option? Do any of the missionaries send their kids to boarding school? And is that an expectation of others who arrive to serve there?