Medical- Mission - Immersion Trips

International mission programs, medical team trips and immersion experiences, as well as long-term volunteer opportunities, have been part of Catholic health care in the United States since its founding. Congregations of women and men religious dispatched their members across the U.S. to tend to the needs of the poor and sick, and to educate the parishioners.

This page shares some of the many practices, tips and resources for short-term medical mission trips, mission trips, immersion experiences and long-term volunteer opportunities.

Recommendations for Practice

CHA is frequently asked for best practices and/or orientation materials or other guidance that can be used by groups conducting short-term medical mission trips. Admittedly, there is information available, but not much specific to health care or that connects this work to Catholic social teaching and our commitments to human dignity, justice and equality. CHA has conducted two phases of research on this topic and is pleased to offer two new resources.

Short-Term Medical Mission Trips: Recommendations for Practice
This book shares 20 Recommendations for Practice that Catholic health care leaders should use to review current and to consider future short-term medical mission trips. They are based on the Phase I and Phase II short-term medical mission trip research. 

Order a copy of the book
Download an electronic copy
Order the webinar recording
Learn more about the research and Recommendations for Practice by listening to a recording of the 30-minute webinar


Short-Term Medical Mission Trips Survey Results
This book contains the detailed question-by-question survey results from Phase I and Phase II of CHA's 2014-2015 research project on short-term medical mission trips.

Order a copy of the book

Download an electronic copy


Long-Term Volunteer Opportunities

Those working in Catholic health care, as well as other persons, can participate in long-term volunteer experiences. Typically, persons interested in this type of program utilize several of the already-developed national and international programs for volunteers. If you or someone in your organization is interested in more than a year-long volunteer experience, some available resources include:

Immersion Trips

International immersion trips help break down some of the misconceptions and barriers that can evolve between people of different cultures, economic status and/or faith traditions. They also provide physicians, nurses and other clinical staff with an opportunity to reflect on their call to be in health care and to tap into the roots of why they entered their professions.

Learn more

Short-term Medical Mission Online Orientation Resource

CHA has developed an online orientation program with four modules for use by those who lead and participate in short-term international mission trips.


Access the online orientation resource


Sample Orientation for Medical Mission Trips

Sample Orientation Cover

This is a sample PowerPoint presentation for your use as an educational tool to help you develop an orientation process for participants on your medical mission trips. It is designed for you to customize to suit the needs of your program — adding or deleting slides where you deem appropriate.

Download the PowerPoint

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint