two students on a medical brigade with a local physician at the in-country clinic

Apr 3, 2024 6:53:28 AM | Medical Brigades Is a Medical Brigade Worth It? - Global Medical Brigades

Participating in a medical brigade can be transformative, helping you understand more about healthcare's global disparities and become a better doctor.

Global Medical Brigades is more than a volunteer opportunity or study abroad alternative. Our work is part of a sustainable solution to address global health inequities in our partner communities. 

For volunteers, our Medical Brigades are a way to develop skills as future physicians, improve cultural competency, and create opportunities for a well-rounded medical school profile. Your work in communities abroad can inform the work you do closer to home.

Why a Brigade Is Worth Your Time

A Brigade is worth your time for the resulting impact it can have on your personal goals, the communities you’ll partner with, and even your outlook on global healthcare.

  • You’ll have a direct impact on partner communities. We work side-by-side with communities who may not have access to affordable healthcare otherwise. Our volunteers support the work we do on the ground in an ethical way.
  • It’s a cultural exchange. Participating in a Brigade allows you to experience different cultures and gain respect for different outlooks. It could make you a less ethnocentric healthcare provider and help you identify, clarify, and work beyond possible stereotypes.
  • You’ll expose yourself to a new language. Working with our partner communities in places like Guatemala and Ghana means picking up as much of the local language as possible to communicate with patients.
  • It creates opportunities and connections. The value in a Brigade doesn’t end once you get on a plane to head back home. Those connections with physicians abroad and other volunteers remain as a tool to build both personal and professional networks.
  • You’ll become a global citizen. Your time on a Brigade will develop an awareness and interest in the global health community. It could inform your perspective on working with diverse communities at home and challenge any existing biases.
  • We care about our environmental impact. Even the most holistic program comes at an environmental cost. At Global Brigades, we work diligently to accurately report and offset our carbon footprint to work toward carbon neutrality.

If you’re worried about your personal carbon footprint but sold on the idea of joining a Brigade, consider a Medical TeleBrigade to participate in virtual clinics.

Why a Brigade Is Worth Your Investment

The work volunteers do on a Brigade is supported by donation goals raised by those volunteers. These Donation Goals cover more than your personal expenses, though. Your donations help us sustain operations in our partner communities before and after volunteers arrive.

We use donation funds to procure medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, cover the administrative costs of running our programs, and compensate staff. This includes translators and support staff from our program countries.

To put it another way: Your fundraising is the primary way by which we partner to operate these in-country clinics all year long. Your Donation Goal is effective for much longer than the few days you’re physically on a Brigade.

If the idea of meeting a Donation Goal feels overwhelming, we have a guide full of ideas to help you fundraise for a Brigade.

Why a Brigade Is Worth the Effort for Your Future Medical Career

Joining a brigade is an investment in your future medical career, and the experience will shape you into becoming a more well-rounded physician out in the workforce. 

On the patient side, interacting with patients in our partner communities hones communication skills that could translate to working with diverse communities anywhere. It will help you develop cultural competence and empathy for patients.

Understanding the unique needs and backgrounds of patients from different socioeconomic backgrounds is essential to effective care. You’ll learn how to adapt your approach to build trust and rapport by shadowing doctors who do so daily.

You’ll have a better understanding of the state of global healthcare. Engaging with our partner communities can offer insights into the broader socio-political factors shaping healthcare worldwide. This kind of nuanced understanding is crucial for advocating for health equity. 

Brigades offer leadership opportunities. Serving as a Chapter President or starting a chapter at your university can help you refine your leadership abilities. Leadership experience demonstrates your ability to manage complex tasks and teams and work toward a common goal.

Even if you’re not a team lead, simply participating in a Brigade shows that you can collaborate, a skill so important in medicine. You’ll have the opportunity to support patient outcomes and solve problems that arise.

Effectively communicating your experiences from a Brigade can strengthen your medical school prospects. We wrote guides about how to highlight your work on Brigades on your medical school applications and in medical school interviews.  

The key is highlighting qualities and skills values by admissions committees. That includes a capacity for leadership, a commitment to service, and improved cultural awareness, all qualities that go beyond soft skills and tap into necessary skills in well-rounded physicians. 

The Holistic Model of Global Medical Brigades

Global Medical Brigades is structured using a holistic approach. Our end goal is to create sustainable systems that improve the health and economic status of our partner communities. We aim to empower our partners, not create systems that cause a reliance on our support.

We go beyond performative activism and identify program goals with our partner communities. This collaborative exchange ensures we operate with care, cultural competence, and long-term sustainability. 

Read Brigader Stories to Decide If It’s Right for You

Don’t just take our word for it. Read real stories from real volunteers who have participated in our Brigades: 

Learn more about our work and get involved with Global Medical Brigades.


Written By: Alexa