Emily Scott of Two Dusty Travelers joins me to discuss the tricky world of medical missions.

Emily is a Registered Nurse who has served on humanitarian medical missions and disaster response teams in eight countries – including treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, deploying to Nepal after the 2015 earthquake, and training birth attendants in Haiti. She is passionate about helping medical professionals find ways to work ethically in the global health sphere.

Highlights include:

3:30 – ES: “We’re licensed, we have an expertise and we’re needed in a lot of situations as opposed to some of the less skilled volunteering that’s available out there. But I think it’s important for us to remember that we need to scrutinize what we’re doing as well, and that we can really cause a lot of damage, even despite our good intentions.”

5:50 – ES: “I went on my first medical mission as a nursing student to Kenya … they set up a free clinic in a limited resource area and basically everybody from the community turns out and they treat them. And then everybody goes home and feels great about themselves, but there’s a lot of questions to ask once that’s over. Like, who’s following up on these patients that you bandage their wounds and you gave them antihypertensives for a week and then you left. So who’s following up on these people? And what’s going on with the healthcare system once you’ve left? Did you actually do any long-term good or did you just like throw a bandaid on a gunshot wound essentially and then walk away?”

8:20 – ES: “What we’re talking about as far as lifting up a local health care system and sustainable interventions is like, if you’ve done some training on your expertise and imparted that to the local healthcare providers. Then they’re going to keep on training others and doing that in their community for the rest of their careers.”

8:56 – ES: “I always tell myself to flip the script and think about like, would this be allowed in my home country? Would I allow someone to do this to myself or my family, if they were in the hospital in America? Would a student from Uganda be able to just like fly over to us and start delivering babies in a community hospital?”

17:20 – ES: “You somehow have to do a ton of research and come up with guidelines for yourself because any organization you’re going to, you’re going to end up in ethical dilemmas every day. And whether the organization is good or not, although there are definitely some great ones and some terrible ones, you have to know within yourself, like this is my scope of practice and I’m not going to step outside of it. Even if someone offers me to, this is what is ethical to me and I’m not going to go past these boundaries. Period.”

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to create a healthcare system that actually cares about the patients and the providers.