While working on our final project in class and discussing medical voluntourism my group came up with a potential reason for why people actually attempt to perform tasks they are no qualified to do. When I think of volunteering, I think of going to an animal shelter and playing with animals. I think of something that brings people joy or working for cause they believe in. Medical voluntourism is much different since it is not free. In the society we live in today, people are always on the hunt to get the best deals. A prime example is Black Friday, which is pretty much a holiday dedicated to bargain shoppers. When people pay for something they want to get their money’s worth. This could potentially cause them to perform tasks that they are not qualified to do just to get the experience for the money they paid.
This point caught my attention and I then decided to research how much medical volunteering in other countries actually costs. I found a website which offers medical volunteering placements and the prices. I looked at the Midwifery Internships Abroad program and this experience is not cheap. For a trip to somewhere like Ghana it is about $2,765 (price chart in link) not including flights and visa. This is pretty pricey; especially for a college student or even someone right out of high school. Although, on the website there is a tab called “Why pay to volunteer?” which breaks down everything the price includes. This section provides great explanations to where the money actually goes. About 51% of the cost is for the individual’s trip while the rest is to maintain the agency and run future projects.
As someone who is working to get myself through school, I would not be able to afford this program. This is why I pursued a job at Strong Memorial Hospital. My job provides me with income and patient interaction. Even if I could financially afford this program, I still don’t think I would feel comfortable helping some give birth, since just transporting a pregnant woman to an exam within the hospital without a nurse makes me anxious. I am in no way trained to assist anyone through labor.
All in all I could see how people would want to get the most out of their experience or almost feel pressured to get hands on experience in order to get their money’s worth. However, this is not something that should be allowed or even expected. Hopefully, our final course statement gives students a better understanding of what they should expect from medical voluntourism.