A recent piece on National Public Radio (“Volunteer docs in Peru take a shopping trip to look for patients”) highlighted challenges of carrying out a successful surgical short-term mission, which utilizes volunteers effectively and addresses expectations in the host community. While it is not likely your experience, nor the NGO you volunteer with, perhaps you have seen or heard others talk similarly about less-than-favorable ventures abroad. Insufficient patients available, hosts failing to notify hospital staff of your impending visit, discovering another group had just been at the site and teaching the same materials you had prepared ... these are only a few of the stories we have all listened to while assuring ourselves that our missions are different, or that these events are just part of the business of international voluntary medical service. But these occurrences not only undermine productivity, they also demoralize the local community and discourage participants...

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