Medical Training as Part of Training for Missionaries

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The following questions were sent to me by my mother who is an educator and registered nurse. Addressing this issue could be a huge plus for missionaries around the world. I would like your thoughts (particularly that of any minister or missionary who reads this blog):

Background:  Missionaries and their families go to foreign fields all over the world.  I assume that part of their preparation is to learn about the language and ethnic customs of the peoples they will be living among.  I have talked to several missionaries and have been told that they didn’t have medical training prior to going into the mission field. 

As a nurse educator, I would like to have a response to the following three questions:

Question #1:  Are the missionaries and their families being instructed on the following health related issues such as the following:

  • What diseases are indigenous to the country; how to prevent “catching” those diseases? 
  • If one would contract a indigenous disease, how to treat it. 
  • Basic first aid and emergency childbirth. 
  • Basic nutrition:  how to select foods and prepare a healthy menu to address leading killers such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
  • Proper hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of infection.  
  • Knowledge of what diseases are spread through blood and body fluids and how to prevent the spread of theses diseases to self and family.

Question #2:  Is there a need for educating our missionaries in the above areas

Question #3:  Do missionaries think this education is important or would have been helpful?

Thanks in advance for any response.

Carole S. Dabbs,  RN

In addition to the above three questions I would like to add: Is this information already out there? Is it readily available to missionary teams? What other health related issues are being missed that could keep our missionaries healthy?

8 Responses

  1. I am a missionary who received excellent training in this area. Most mission boards that I know about offer it to one extent or another.

    It is vitally important.

  2. Thank you for the input. I was thinking that in the CofC circles that medical training may not be that large of a part of missionary preparation. Is RG the norm?

  3. I would contact the missions department of a Christian University like Harding University, Abilene Christian University, or Fuller Theological Seminary for a start. They have people who can direct you to the right resources on training.

  4. I am a dentist who is preparing to go and serve in Mongolia as a long-term commitment. When on my survey trip a year ago, I saw that the rural Mongolians lived with many chronic diseases. There is no health care available. I hope to coordinate occasional dental/medical clinics to help establish goodwill for the presentation of the Gospel.

    Can you give me advice on a course on emergency medical training which will enable me to help with their physical problems?

  5. Tom,

    This post was part of an effort to find out if there was training like this out there. I am not aware of anything formal but there is certainly a need.

  6. I am a missionary going to Haiti and some of this information I am told but a lot of it I have no idea. A quick course in emergency medical traning and disease that are more pron to specific countries would be a huge blessing to many of us going to the field. Especialy for countries that have a great lack of medical facilities and doctors.

  7. I don’t know if you’re still looking for responses, as this is an old post, but just in case:
    We received a very basic health-related overview both in the States (pre-deployment) and here in Africa. Hand washing, food prep, common illnesses and diseases (and how to avoid them), purifying water, general situations to avoid (swimming in stagnant water, walking barefoot). The sum total of our ‘training’ was maybe 3-4 hours.

    I would have loved (and would still love) the option of a more comprehensive basic medical course for bush missionaries–I’m envisioning ongoing coursework comparable to a college semester-length elective course. Right now we have access to excellent medical care, but in about a year we’ll be in a locale where anything serious that exceeds our capability would require air transport.

    Definitely a need worth addressing, if you have the means to do so.

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