Overcoming Obstacles To Medical Missions: What About My Debt?

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Everybody knows the value of medical missions.  Using your medical skills to bring  healing and spiritual transformation in under-served areas.  Knowing that what you bring to the table is desperately needed.  Teaching nationals so that they can carry on, and expand, your work.  The ‘perks’ of having more time with your family, a less frenetic lifestyle, and freedom from malpractice concerns.

But, serving abroad brings many challenges that can easily stop you from going.  In my next two posts, I want to look at two obstacles – one on the front end, one on the back end – and how they can be overcome with God’s help.

In this post, I want to look at the obstacle of debt.  Today’s medical students can easily graduate with up to $300,000 in debt.  By the time you finish residency, the interest can leave you with twice that amount.  Faced with that, it’s easy to conclude there’s no way to go overseas, or, serve somewhere where you’d make significantly less than the norm.

Enter MedSend.

MedSend is a ministry that will pay back your medical student loans over ten years so that you can get to the field right after residency.  Yes, you read that correctly: MedSend will pay back your student loans for you so that you can fulfill your dream of doing medical missions.

In a phone conversation earlier this week, I spoke with a development officer from MedSend about how it works.

The first step, often overlooked, is to make sure you’re called.  You need to ask God to burden you with a passion for a people and/or place.  You need to go on short-term trips to explore your calling.  You need to spend lots of time in prayer.  And you need others to affirm that this is, in fact, God’s leading.

After that, the next step is to officially partner with an approved (by MedSend, but there are many) missions organization like Samaritan’s Purse.  Once you’re onboard, with them you still need to raise your support to pay for the expenses you’ll incur in your new location.

Once those things are in place, MedSend becomes involved and begins paying back your loans so that you can go and serve.

Right now, MedSend is sponsoring approximately 150 healthcare professionals around the world, including those in domestic under-served areas.  They represent about 40 different specialties and fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.  So, there’s a place for everyone.

If you’re not sure about the idea of medical missions, are you open to exploring it and asking God what He wants, whatever the cost may be?

The good news is that, if God is calling you, your debt doesn’t need to get in the way.

World Medical Mission’s Post-Residency Program

Are you a resident contemplating God’s call into full-time medical missions?  If so, this may be just the opportunity for you.  Please read the note below from World Medical Mission’s Post-Residency Program Director and CMDA partner, Scott Reichenbach.

On a personal note, I know at least one physician who had a very good experience with the program. She is now serving full-time overseas in Papua New Guinea at the hospital she worked at during her time with WMM.

Dear Resident Physician,

World Medical Mission, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, is again looking for exceptional Christian residents and fellows who believe the Lord is calling them to consider a career in medical missions immediately following their training.   World Medical Mission’s Post-Residency Program is a fully-funded, two-year program that places and supports selected physicians and their families in established evangelical mission hospitals within six months of the completion of their training.  Physicians will work within their specialty, alongside career medical missionaries, who will mentor and encourage them as they begin their medical missionary careers.  Physicians will be exposed to the blessings and challenges of medical missions while gaining valuable practical experience in preparation for a lifetime of mission service. 

Now in our seventh year, the Post-Residency Program currently has twenty-two physicians and their families in a variety of specialties, serving in 11 countries around the world.  This fall, another 12 physicians will depart after they have completed their residencies and have taken their respective board exams.  Our goal continues to be the mobilization of young Christian physicians to live out God’s call on their lives towards careers in international medical missions.  Through this program, physicians will see firsthand the power of the Gospel to change lives as they are challenged to meet the physical and spiritual needs of hurting people around the world. 

Applications for the Post-Residency Program are due June 1 before you begin your last year of residency (i.e., if you complete residency in 2012, your application is due by June 1, 2011).  Personal interviews will be conducted in Charlotte NC in either July or August and selections will be made by September.  For more information visit our website www.samaritanspurse.org/prpor e-mail: postresidencyprogram@samaritan.org.

If you are unsure where the Lord is leading but you are interested in spending an elective month serving overseas, World Medical Mission can help arrange a short-term volunteer opportunity for you and your family as well.  For more information about short-term volunteer opportunities and the hospitals we serve, please visit our website www.samaritanspurse.org  or e-mail wmminfo@samaritan.org.

May God be glorified,

Scott Reichenbach

Post-Residency Program

World Medical Mission

Office: 828-278-1355