As a ministry of Christian Medical & Dental Associations® the overall goal of the Center for Medical Missions® is to help develop new ways to advance the cause of health missions, international healthcare, and to serve healthcare missionaries in their work for Christ. There are four ways we accomplish our mission:
Personnel is our most valuable resource in missions. For this reason, we like to think of personnel separately from other resources. The following areas are vital when thinking about medical mission personnel- Recruitment and Member Care.
We do not live in a vacuum nor can we be successful if we operate as if we do. The successful person in international healthcare, in the future, will value and understand how to form successful partnerships and be able to function with a wide variety of partners.
In addition to personnel resources, CMM will focus on resources for international healthcare missions in the following areas: Management, Finances, and Training for New Healthcare Missionaries.
The last 100 years of missionary medicine have seen great successes in much of the world. The strategies we have used and the strengths we have focused on have brought physical and spiritual health and healing to millions.
More About Accomplishing Our Mission...
Decisions made by healthcare personnel regarding where to live, specialty area, practice location and other major life choices are made at various levels of education and periods in life. Influencing these decisions becomes more difficult the further along one is in their education and career. Do we respond to God’s calling or are we able to respond, depending on the same junctures? What does this mean in recruiting healthcare personnel for missions? Mission organizations typically recruit physicians out of three major groups.
- Students and residents
- Physicians in practice
- Retirees and those close to retirement
Students and residents make major career decisions during three key periods of their training.
- Undergraduate years
- First and second years of medical school
- Final years of medical school and residency
The average U.S.-based mission organization typically relies on contacts initiated by final year medical students and residents for “recruiting” these young people. In reality, by this stage in their careers, various commitments have already been made and it becomes much more difficult to think of long-term careers in mission healthcare. We believe a greater response to God’s calling in medical missions would be seen if we were more intentional during the undergraduate and early medical school years.
CMDA has chapters on about 80 percent of U.S. medical and dental school campuses. We see great potential through these chapters to raise awareness of missions during the early training years. Furloughing healthcare missionaries could have a major impact by adopting a chapter and becoming a source of mentoring and information. Most career healthcare missionaries began considering missions because they were highly influenced by another healthcare missionary! Although we are talking primarily about physicians and dentists, the same principles apply to all healthcare personnel. In a recent survey of physicians in missions, the greatest plea for help was in the area of recruiting. CMM plans to respond through active mission emphasis in student chapters and finding ways to have greater influence and contact in the undergraduate years. If you are willing to help with a chapter while you are on home assignment or have some ideas to share, please contact us using the form on this page.
Physicians in busy practice and retirees often are not aware of short-term and long-term personnel needs. Do you need furlough coverage and don’t know how to get the word out? It is now possible to list these needs on the CMDA website with a link to your organization's web address or email address. Contact us using the form on this page to list your specific need. If you have an emergency need, please, as appropriate, describe the reason and we will communicate these needs in additional ways.
How would a practicing physician transition from their U.S. practice to a foreign country? What are the steps in closing and/or selling a practice? What practical pointers are there to make this a smooth and successful transition? What are all the things one must consider and who can help you through the steps? Would one of you who has gone through this be willing to write your thoughts in a “Practical Guide: From Private Practice to Missions?” CMM would love to have this as a resource to help those who are looking to follow you. We will help you do this. Contact us using the form on this page if you are interested.
Member care of physicians and other healthcare personnel is critical to their success in ministry and longevity of career. Mission organizations often are not fully aware of the needs of healthcare personnel and frequently do not understand how to meet them. CMDA plans to develop ways to cultivate awareness of, concern for and care of the needs of medical missionaries. We believe that more effective ways to meet these needs can be developed by pooling the resources of CMDA, mission agencies and other organizations.Three areas stand out when addressing needs of our missionary members:
- Encouragement, spiritual and psychosocial support
Encouragement, spiritual and psychosocial support
Healthcare professionals are constantly faced with excessive demands on their time and energies. The strain of day-to-day clinical work, long and sometimes lonely hours, frequent call and the intensity of illness of those cared for can lead to burnout, discouragement, and depression. Those outside of healthcare often does not fully comprehend these pressures. CMM would like to develop partnerships with various ministries, which focus on psychosocial and spiritual renewal, especially for those in ministry. Included in this would be developing resource materials, finding sites for retreat and renewal, networking with counselors and others, and encouraging mission organizations to commit resources and time for you to use.
The electronic age continues to advance into much of the developing world. Capacities to have instant communication are now available to many of our missionary members who just a short time ago were very isolated. With this technology comes an ever-increasing and overwhelming mass of information. Networking is critical in building partnerships, establishing cooperative endeavors, accessing resources and filtering of new, helpful information. Very few people, however, have the time to spend developing these networks of important contacts and resources. CMM plans to develop electronic catalogs of web-based information, helpful contacts, and avenues of communication for our missionary members and organizations. We hope to form very valuable networks for you.
The current Continuing Medical and Dental Education Conference held each year continues to meet critical needs of Continuing Medical Education and fellowship for national and expatriate physicians and dentists. The education committee of CMDA continues to do a great job with these conferences. IHA would encourage each of you to express additional needs and make suggestions as to how we can help meet those needs. Sent your thoughts and suggestions to the Center for Medical Missions using the form on this page and we will be sure they are passed along to the appropriate people.
Future international healthcare ministries must be very intentional in this area. Partnerships do not fall into place but take vision, effort and a spirit of cooperation. Forming the right partnerships in the right way is critical. Examples of successful partnerships between mission organizations with governments, non-government organizations, and private agencies are important to study and draw lessons from. Strategic planning, implementation, and management of partnerships, along with skills problem-solving, are critical.
CMM hopes to develop resources and networks for you to be successful in partnering with others. Transformational, holistic, community-based health ministry will be most successful and sustainable when good partnerships are formed and resources are combined. Awareness of resources, potential partners and a desire to collaborate and cooperate toward common held interests must be developed. We want to help you with this. MedSend is developing an informational website for transformational, wholistic, community-based ministry resources. Dr. Daniel Fountain of King College is leading this effort. CMM will contribute, support, and encourage both MedSend and you wherever possible. Watch for further announcements about this site.
Management of personnel, projects, finances, clinics, hospitals, future planning, staff development, quality improvement…and the list goes on and on. CMM would like to address management issues through the following:
- Develop standards for international health initiatives including, but not limited to, mission hospitals, health centers, and clinics.
- Establish a core of “Best Practices.”
- Address leadership development.
- Host an “email chat room” to share management ideas, related especially to the above areas.
Adequacy of resources for international healthcare, especially healthcare for the poor, continues to be a struggle in the developing world. Compounding this is the overwhelming HIV/AIDS problem many countries are facing. CMM is pursuing funds from the “Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief” (PEPFAR) announced by President Bush in the State of the Union address in January 2003. This initiative does seek to involve faith-based organizations to a great degree in government-funded HIV/AIDS work. We are working on a needs-assessment directed toward the 12 countries of Africa identified in PEPFAR.
Submitting grant proposals can be a tedious and time-consuming process. We realize you do not have time to spend in the mountainous paperwork required for individual project proposals. CMM would like to develop a simplified process for you to obtain funds by combining projects and submitting large grant proposals to either government or non-government sources. Through a much simpler application process, we would be able to disburse funds to you. This would also enhance both project evaluation and monitoring.
Training for New Healthcare Missionaries
The Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK has developed an excellent two-week course for those planning to do healthcare missions in developing countries. This course is very helpful for new personnel in adjusting to the cultural and spiritual environments they will be working in. It is also a practical course, emphasizing the wise and creative use of available resources. You may learn more about this course on www.healthserve.org. If the demand grows for this type of training, we would consider developing a sister course in the U.S. or combining with some of the tropical medicine courses now in existence. www.healthserve.org is also an excellent site for resources and helps in other areas of medical missions and international healthcare.
The last 100 years of missionary medicine have seen great successes in much of the world. The strategies we have used and the strengths we have focused on have brought physical and spiritual health and healing to millions. The future demands answers to many questions: “Where do we go from here?” “How do go together where God wants us to go?” “How do we most wisely use personnel, partnerships, and resources?” “Am I willing to share my knowledge, lessons learned and skills with others and am I willing to learn from them?” and “Will we spend adequate time in prayer seeking God’s direction for the future?”
We have several challenges for the coming years. There is no doubt that missionary healthcare is still one of the most effective means of impacting lives worldwide and for bringing about biblical transformational change in individuals and communities. God has, and always will, use wholistic healthcare to heal lives and bring people to Him.
Will the same strategies we have so effectively used in the last several decades working in the 10/40 window? Reaching the unreached, ministering in very difficult areas of the world, caring in the urban slums and caring for others, like the urban elite, will require new strategies and direction. In today’s world, nobody lives or works in a vacuum. We are destined to fail in healthcare ministry if we operate as if we do. Crucial to the future is a very intentional unity in strategic thinking, planning, work and support of one another.
We must call for our mission leaders to develop a greater sense of teamwork and partnership. We must encourage our organizations and projects to draw on the strengths of each other. We must have a forum to freely share ideas and develop strategies; a “think-tank” for medical missions and international healthcare. CMM will actively support and encourage this type of development.
Medical missions has accomplished great things; we must not rest on our laurels but continue to move forward in response to God’s call. We have entered an age of information, best practices, and evidence-based medicine. In our settings in international healthcare, research, data collection, and networking is becoming of great importance. We must be willing to examine what we do, evaluate our effectiveness, learn from others and be willing to change. We can only do this as we have good information available.
Individual donors and funding agencies are also looking more and more for evidence-based best practices. Their decisions on funding of our programs and projects will be based on our ability to show good data. We must develop networks, materials, and tools to encourage you and help you to be most effective.
Finally, Center for Medical Missions® is actively working towards and seeking partnerships with our international cohorts in CMF International, International Christian Medical & Dental Associations®, and others so we can most effectively serve you and meet your needs.
Do these questions sound familiar?
- We have no organizational direction or plan for healthcare ministry. Where should we be heading? Who can help us get there? How do we partner with others?
- The local community does not seem to take ownership for their health and this hospital. Is it possible to change this?
- This project, after 35 years, is more of a financial drain than a ministry! But what do we do?
- We have difficulty with staff turnover and recruiting qualified staff. National leadership is lacking within our organization. How do we develop personnel and leadership?
We want to help you with questions like these. Long-range strategic planning, personnel development, community ownership, financial accountability, sustainability of services and many other issues are difficult to wrestle with alone. Through our Missions Consultation Service, we provide external on-site consultation to mission sending organizations, national churches and overseas projects such as hospitals, clinics, and community health programs. We want to help you achieve your goals and dreams in missions and healthcare.
This service is provided at cost. For additional information, contact us using the form on this page.