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Atlantis students in front of the hospital where they are shadowing (Zagreb, Croatia).

Individual Pre-Health Stories

What Do You Do On a Medical Mission Trip? One Pre-Med’s View

Anne Marie profile

About Anne Marie

Anne Marie Conrad is a 2021 graduate of Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts with degrees in Global Studies and Spanish along with a certificate in Medical Humanities. She has explored her passion for global healthcare by doing undergraduate research on best practices for provision of healthcare across language and cultural barriers. Anne Marie was an Atlantis Fellow to Valladolid, Spain during the Summer of 2019.

As a pre-med student with particular interest in global healthcare, I knew I wanted to prioritize learning about and building experience in international health practices during my undergrad. I was able to shadow abroad as a participant in an Atlantis 360 shadowing program. Because this Atlantis experience only made me more hungry for international medical experiences, I found a home in Purdue’s chapter of Timmy Global Health. One of the things that initially drew me to this organization was it’s annual international service trip to Quito, Ecuador. 

Who’s involved?

During this trip, Purdue students are accompanied by different Purdue-affiliated medical professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists. Once in Quito, we meet up with local medical professionals as well as medical students and specialized medical translators. Local staff of Timmy Global Health coordinate with community leaders in each of the neighborhoods that we service. The team is also accompanied by individuals who so graciously volunteered their time and skill providing food for the volunteers. 

Continuous Care

Something that I especially appreciate about the way that Timmy Global Health approaches international service trips is their Continuous Care model. According to this model, the same communities are serviced every 60 to 90 days by different volunteer groups. This way, the paternal voluntourism that is often seen in medical mission trips (where Americans come into a community, service the community’s needs according to how they, the visitors, see fit, and leave without any followup or further communication) is avoided. Communities themselves dictate what services are offered and how to best reach the most patients with quality healthcare. Timmy Global Health isn’t the only organization that functions this way, so if you’re interested in a medical mission trip, I recommend looking for an organization or company whose mission aligns with serving people the way they need rather than based on the assumptions of the volunteers.


A typical day on a medical mission trip in my experience starts at the group’s lodging. In the morning you eat breakfast and pack up the bus or whatever vehicle you’re using and drive to the neighborhood being serviced that day, usually anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half away. Once you arrive at the location, you unpack all of the equipment and medicines from the bus and set up clinic. In my experience, clinic usually happens in a school, a church, or a community center. 

Clinic is set up in different stations. While student volunteers are not allowed to do anything requiring specific training that they don’t have, there are many roles needing filled that don’t require experience or training. When patients arrive, they check in at Registration. In the Continuous Care model, many of the patients have been seen before and so their medical history has been recorded and is kept in whatever computer system is being used. Regardless of their status as returning or not, they then go to Medical History where volunteers and translators will take a basic medical history to send on to practitioners. 

Next, the patients go to Triage where their conditions are assessed and vitals are taken by nurses with the assistance of medical students and undergrad volunteers. After vitals are taken, the patients are seen by a physician. 

One of the roles a pre-med student like myself could play in the clinic was being a note taker for the doctor. This was without a doubt my favorite role. I had the opportunity to be in the consultation room with the physician as well as to practice my Spanish medical terminology and have various conditions explained to me. In my experience, the mobile clinic and its medical professionals serviced primary care problems. While many patients received referrals to a specialist, the majority of patients were being seen for general wellness checks and chronic condition checkups. After all the patients had been seen for the day, we packed up all of the clinic back into the bus and drove back to our lodgings. Once there, we took inventory of all of the medicine and equipment that had been used that day and refilled any items that were low. 


After clinic was done for the day, we ate dinner and each night had a cultural activity planned. One night we went on a tour of the city’s historic center, and later in the week we had the chance to take dance lessons in a local folk style. As a Global Studies major really interested in experiencing different cultures, our evening outings were another one of my favorite parts of the trip. 

From clinical experience interacting with patients and medical professionals to cultural immersion, I couldn’t recommend an international medical experience more. Especially for pre-meds interested in global healthcare, very few opportunities can provide the experience given in a medical mission trip setting. Something to note, many of these medical mission trips deal exclusively with provision of primary care. If you’re looking for a more specialized opportunity, a shadowing abroad experience like Atlantis may be a better fit for you.


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Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

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John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
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Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
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Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
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Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
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Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
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Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
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Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
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Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
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Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.