Pearls and Pitfalls of an Orthopaedic Mission Trip


East Florida


Aventura Hospital and Medical Center

Document Type


Publication Date



emergency medicine, volunteering, orthopaedic surgery, healthcare disparities, global health


Emergency Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences | Orthopedics


Many physicians chose to pursue years of rigorous medical training because of an innate desire to care for others, which often translates into volunteering in their local communities. Some physicians take this a step further by contributing their time and skills to global health delivery through medical mission trips. The need is apparent: a 40-year discrepancy in average life span, 36 deaths versus 4 deaths per 1,000 births in low-income versus high-income countries, and over 70% of preventable pediatric deaths occurring in solely 15 countries. In addition, a remarkable gap exists in the access of care and resources, with the world's poorest countries receiving only 4% of surgical services. Orthopaedic missions are seldom because the cost and complexity of these trips supersede many other specialties. However, the care that orthopaedic surgery can provide restores an individual's function, allowing them to increase productivity in their personal lives and in their community. Addressing this disparity in health care is a great first step, but studies have shown that mission trips may have some serious downfalls. We aim to discuss these downfalls and provide recommendations to mitigate them.

Publisher or Conference

Journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery