FAQ for Health Professionals

What types of health professionals can join a brigade?
MD's, DO's, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, and more!

I am a specialist.  Will my services be useful on the brigade?
Absolutely!  Although we set up as a primary care clinic, our brigade treats a myriad of health conditions.  Please be sure to bring any necessary supplies with you needed to perform your specialty.  We also ask that practitioners keep in mind that we will work in places that usually do not have electricity or running water.

How much does the trip cost?
Like our student volunteers, health professionals are also responsible for the cost of airfare and in-country cost.  The in-country cost for a 7-day medical brigade is $750 or for a 10-day medical/public health brigade is $1050.  Airfare from SF for the May 2010 birgade is approximately $670.  Health professionals will also get a Brigade Fundraising Site that accepts tax-deductible donations toward the cost of their trip.

What will I get out of joining a brigade?
In addition to providing care to rural populations (20% of our patients have never seen a doctor outside of Global Medical Brigades!) and fostering the next generation of health practitioners (our volunteers!), the following testimonial illustrates the personal benefits of participating in a brigade.

Testimonial from David Magorien, MD
Volunteer Medical Professional, USC

"This past June I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the first medical brigade to Honduras sponsored by USC. Prior to making the trip, I really did not know what to expect, as I had never been involved in such a mission. Upon arriving in Honduras, I was overwhelmed by the extreme poverty and poor living conditions. I am a cardiologist, however throughout the brigade I encountered very little cardiovascular disease. Because of the poverty, typical risk factors for heart disease including cigarette smoking, poor dietary habits and obesity was not observed. More common diseases which I came across while in Honduras included malaria, dengue fever and parasites. These are disease processes which I read about in medical school but had never previously treated in all the years of my practice. 

I was truly humbled by the kindness and unassuming nature of the Honduran people. They were very appreciative of any medical treatment or advice that I could offer. In many instances the people would walk incredibly long distances and wait patiently in long lines to receive medical care…I was extremely impressed by the catholic organization which coordinated the brigade. The entire operation was very well organized which allowed me to best utilize my time and skills in caring for patients.

I also really enjoyed working alongside the students from USC. I was impressed with their professionalism, stamina and compassion towards the less fortunate. They were always willing to put in long hours and eager to learn new skills.  

I have been in private practice for 23 years and I can honestly say this has been one of the most worthwhile and humbling experiences of my career. I was truly honored to be part of the medical brigade and have the opportunity to care for the Honduran people."

I am not able to join the next brigade, but I would still like to help out.  What can I do?
Our group spends a great deal of time and money collecting the medications and supplies that make our brigade a success.  Please visit the "Support Us" section of our website to find out more about donating money or supplies to our group.

hat about medical licensure/malpractice issues while in Honduras?Because you are on a short-term volunteer trip in Honduras, obtaining a license to practice from the Honduran government is unnecessary.  By Honduran law, a Honduran doctor will be on-site at each brigade and will assume all liability for medical practice.  The Honduran doctor will also aid visiting physicians with local diagnoses.

What is the Physician/Nurse/Pharmacist/Dentist’s role at a Brigade clinic?
·        Physician – Set up your desk area with needed materials from the pharmacy (tongue depressors, BP cuff, stethoscope, otoscope, pens).  Patients will arrive with a patient sheet partially filled out with name, age, and chief complaints.  Mark your diagnosis and indicate medications to be dispensed at the pharmacy and include any specific instructions such as dosages.  Indicate the need for a referral if applicable.
·        Nurse – Can aid in Triage, Clinic or Pharmacy.  In triage, would aid in taking blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and identifying chief complaints.  In Clinic, would operate similar to a physician (most medications prescribed are over-the-counter).  In Pharmacy, would operate similar to the Pharmacist.
·        Pharmacist – Ensure the pharmacy is set up correctly/efficiently.  Aid students in identifying the correct mediations and dosages.  Indicate substitution medications should the pharmacy run out of a prescribed medication.
·        Dentist – Set up the dental station with necessary supplies.  Assign students to provide patients with dental health education while handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste.  Work with Honduran dentists, if present, to extract decayed teeth from patients.  Mark this on their patient sheets.  Refer patients back to the clinic for pain medication if needed.
·        Other – We welcome all form of medical professionals.  We have had audiologists to 4th year medical students to optometrists accompany us on brigades.  Please be sure to bring any necessary supplies with you needed to perform your specialty.  Advise the Honduran brigade team of when you will be coming so that we can prepare the villages accordingly.
·        All – Medical Professionals are NOT responsible for looking after student volunteers.  The group leader and GMB staff are there to lead the way.

How many patients are seen in a typical day clinic?
A typical brigade will see between 300 and 600 patients in a day.  There will on average be 3 – 5 physicians seeing patients.

What are the most common types of complaints?
Most complaints are similar to those seen in any primary care situation, with a few exceptions:

·        Headache
·        Upper Respiratory Infections/Bronchitis/Cough
·        Abdominal discomfort (often parasites)
·        Skin Infections (scabies, bacterial, fungal)
·        Dizziness
·        Body/Joint aches & pains
·        Heart – 1st line meds are Atenolol and Hidrochlorothiazide
·        Diabetes Mellitus – 1st line med is Metformin; Refer for DM teaching

What are the most commonly prescribed medications?
Please see the "Necessary Meds" document.

What if additional testing or follow-up is needed?Write a referral for the patient.  They will be seen for free at the Santa Rosa de Lima Clinic, or can go to a closer clinic/hospital to their village if they wish.

What if there is a medical emergency?
The clinic only has primary care equipment on hand.  Since most patients must walk miles to reach the clinic, we see few emergency cases.  In case of a medical emergency at the clinic, the patient will be driven to the nearest Urgent Care facility by a GMB Staff Member.