Learn More About Brigades
A Medical Brigade is a week-long volunteer opportunity for students to take part in a mobile medical clinic in a developing country. Brigades provide aspiring healthcare professionals with the opportunity to gain experience in a medical clinic setting while making a tangible impact in global health.
Student volunteers shadow local doctors during patient consultations, support medicine distribution within the pharmacy, and lead health education workshops.
As part of Global Brigades, Global Medical Brigades partners with local communities in:
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What is Global Medical Brigades?
Global Medical Brigades is a non-profit organization dedicated to make sustainable, empowering changes in global health. Volunteers will learn about health determinants like public health, WASH, and economic access while also supporting the implementation of a water system and public health infrastructure.
How is Global Brigades different from other medical volunteering programs?
Global Brigades is unique in many ways. First, Global Brigades acts as an empowering movement by offering a Holistic Model for sustainable development and healthcare in the communities we partner with. Unlike other organizations, we support our volunteers and have an on-the-ground team that works with community members to improve local health year-round.
Global Brigades combats health discrepancies in communities not only through medical clinics, but also through public health and water infrastructure projects. We also send Medical/Dental Brigades to our partner communities every 3-6 months in order to provide sustainable medical care until the community has the infrastructure to provide care to patients.
Is Global Medical Brigades free?
Volunteers do not pay to participate in a Medical Brigade. Instead, volunteers fundraise to support Global Brigades’ Holistic Model. Once a volunteer meets a set Donation Goal, they are eligible to join on the ground to see their fundraising efforts put into action by participating in a Medical Brigade.
When a volunteer participates in a Medical Brigade, the volunteer’s ground transportation, food, lodging, and emergency insurance are all covered. The funding that the volunteer raised also supports all the necessary costs for program implementation, such as equipment, local doctors, pharmacists, translators, and support staff.
Visit our financials page to learn about how donor funds are utilized.
Is this safe?
The safety of the student volunteers is Global Brigades’ number one priority and is the single most important consideration when entering a community or choosing a project. Each country that Global Brigades partners with has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease any risk of danger and to ensure that any emergency can be properly handled in a prompt and professional manner.
For more information on safety precautions, emergency procedures, and insurance information, please visit Safety and Security on the Volunteer Resource Site.
What does starting a GMB Chapter entail?
To start a new Global Medical Brigades Chapter on a university campus, new Chapter Presidents take part in the following activities:
- Develop a chapter executive board of other passionate students
- Work with your board for recruitment, fundraising, and other chapter activities
- Select a country and set dates for your chapter’s brigade
- Prepare your chapter for your brigade: Learn basic medical terms in Spanish, practice using our electronic medical records systems, learn about healthcare in your destination country, and more!
- Keep your chapter engaged post-brigade by hosting chapter meetings, and participating in other activities throughout the school year
- Have the opportunity to earn a full brigade scholarship by being the Chapter Leader
You’ll be assigned a Global Brigades Program Associate who will assist you along the way with each step of the process.
Do I have to start a GMB Chapter to join a Medical Brigade?
Typically, if your campus does not have an existing GMB Chapter, you would need to join a chapter on another campus or you would need to start your own chapter. We’ve found leading a chapter is the best way to get the full brigade experience. However, we do have options for students who want to participate in Medical Brigades without leading a chapter: TeleBrigades and joining an existing chapter.
How do I find out if my campus has a GMB Chapter?
Visit our University map to search for a chapter on your campus. If a chapter doesn’t exist or is dormant, you have the opportunity to lead your own GMB Chapter and start a legacy on your campus to mobilize students to make an impact in global health.
Join a Medical Brigades Chapter
Want to make a difference by volunteering internationally, but not sure if being a Chapter Leader is a good fit for you? You can join an existing chapter in two ways:
If your school has an active Medical Brigades chapter…
Check out our University Map and find your school. There, you’ll find details about who to contact and existing Brigades in the planning phase.
If your school doesn’t have an active chapter…
You can still join or lead a TeleBrigade or join a brigade with another university’s chapter.
Want to join a chapter? Join a trip by filling out our connect form or learn more about TeleBrigades.
Is it best to join a Brigade before trying to lead one myself?
Actually, it’s just the opposite! We strongly recommend students at schools without active brigades chapters take the initiative to start a chapter. It’s the best way to get the full brigade experience. Just go to the contact form below and select the option “I want to be a Medical Brigades leader.”
Is a 7-day Medical Brigade sustainable?
By itself, a 7 day Medical Brigade is not sustainable. However, Global Brigades’ medical program is built within our unique Holistic Model of development, and a Medical Brigade is one component of our programming. Our local teams work year-round to implement our 3 areas of work within our model: Healthcare, WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), and Economic Development, each paired with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
We partner with communities based on a mutual understanding that projects are not implemented for communities – they are implemented with communities.
Our programs are built around sustainable systems that allow communities to succeed beyond our brigades. Our intention is to help our partner communities reach 6 goals of an Empowered Community:
- Regular, affordable access to a doctor and prescription medication
- Daily access to a trained Community Health Worker
- Continuous access to a clean water system with a Water Council in place
- >90% household adoption of latrines, eco-stoves and water filters
- Access to sufficient, affordable credit with a Community Bank in place
- Ongoing technical capacity for income creation and diversification
Will I actually be able to work directly with patients?
Students will shadow licensed medical professionals as they give full consultations, observe doctors as they prescribe medications for patients, and assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions.
Licensed healthcare professionals may be permitted to work directly with patients.
Will I have the opportunity to discuss patients' diagnoses with the Doctors?
Specific volunteer experiences vary between brigades. Many of our doctors have been trained to create an inclusive and collaborative environment with the students. We encourage all our doctors to make the Medical Brigades an educational experience for the students while still providing efficient and effective care for our patients.
For patient safety, no volunteers will be allowed to do procedures that they are not licensed to do in their home countries.
What happens if I fundraise my goal, but can no longer go on the scheduled Medical Brigade?
All donations are made to Global Brigades, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States. All donations made are non-refundable and will be used to further Global Brigades’ mission. Global Brigades demonstrates accountability to donors in publishing an annual audit from an independent accounting firm.
If a volunteer wishes to decline their participation after meeting their donation goal, we encourage the volunteer to find a replacement volunteer to take their place so their original commitment to their project community may be fulfilled. Alternatively, as long as the volunteer cancels no sooner than 14 days before their scheduled arrival date, the volunteer can instead postpone their participation for a future brigade for up to 1 year.
Read our full cancellation and refund policies.
Join a TeleBrigade
Medical TeleBrigades offer students the opportunity to experience the shadowing and patient consultations they would on a physical brigade, but at a reduced cost and from anywhere in the world.
Interested in a TeleBrigade? You can sign up as a Chapter Leader and organize a TeleBrigade for your university, or join an existing chapter at your school or another already planning a TeleBrigade.
Connect With Us
Get in touch with our team to start a Medical Brigades Chapter, join an existing group, or ask us a question. Talk with our experienced team members about the impact you can make in under-resourced communities, available scholarship opportunities, and how this opportunity will connect you with other passionate students on your campus.
After filling out the form, we will be in touch to provide you with next steps.
This DONATION is non-refundable
This DONATION is non-refundable Global Brigades, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your donation will be used to further Global Brigades' mission and will be allocated toward the program you selected. This donation will not be utilized to fulfill a chapter or a volunteer's fundraising goal. Read Global Brigades, Inc's full Donation Refund Policy here.
Looking to donate to support a volunteer's fundraising goal? Find their Global Brigades Chapter by searching our Chapters map and then selecting their upcoming brigade. If you need help finding their chapter, you can ask the volunteer to send you their brigade's specific website link or you can contact us.
By making this donation, I agree to the no-refund policy
I am cancelling my donation to support Global Brigades