Global Brigades is an international non-profit that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams.

A Guide to Medical Brigades

Medical Brigades host medical clinics in Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Ghana, Greece, and Belize to support preventative and primary healthcare in communities with limited or no access to healthcare.

Benefits of Medical Brigades for Pre-Med Students

After participating in a University Brigades Chapter, prospective healthcare professionals will gain valuable insights to prepare them for a medical career, such as:

  • How to communicate effectively with patients
  • Differences in access to healthcare between a Brigade country and their home country
  • The use of electronic medical records system
  • Experience learning a second language (Spanish, in most cases) to communicate with patients
  • Teamwork and leadership development skills
  • On-the-ground benefits of social innovations in healthcare

Benefits of Medical Brigades

Unexpected benefits of a Medical Brigade

Joining a Global Medical Brigade is a great opportunity to explore the field of medicine, shadow physicians, and support ongoing sustainable development efforts.

Read more in the blog

Reasons to Go on a Medical Brigade

Reasons to go on a Medical Brigade

Picture yourself studying when a friend calls to ask, “Want to join a Medical Brigade with me?” Your immediate question in response is, “Why go on a Medical Brigade abroad?”

Read more in the blog

Gain Global Perspective on Healthcare

How Medical Brigades Form a Global Perspective on Healthcare

Discover how participating in a Global Medical Brigade empowered this student to adopt a global perspective on healthcare and understand the need for culturally appropriate care.

Read more in the blog

Learn about the different Brigades within each country

Clinic Stations

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Station 1: Intake

After traveling for several hours or even days by foot or transportation, community members wait in line for the first station, which is intake.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with community volunteers to log the date of visit and patients’ name, age, gender, and community residence.

All of this information is documented in our electronic medical record system, Open MRS, which is hosted on a local server at the medical clinic so that the other stations can access the information.


NOTE: This may vary from programming country, feel free to reach out to your Program Associate for support.


Station 2: Triage

Volunteers will work with translators to record the following information for each patient, which will assist the healthcare professionals in diagnosis.

  • Patient vitals, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Allergies
  • Family history
  • Chief complaints

Station 3: Consultation

Volunteers will shadow a licensed healthcare professional as they consult with patients. The licensed doctor will ask the patient additional questions and then diagnosis the patient and prescribe any necessary medications.

During shadowing, the volunteer will have the opportunity to ask the doctor questions as well as assist the doctor in transcribing the information into the electronic medical records system.


Station 4: Dental

At the dental station, licensed dentists will perform fluoride treatments, teeth cleanings, and tooth extractions. Volunteers have the opportunity to shadow during these procedures and ask questions.

As a Brigadeer, you may also have the chance to assist children in learning proper teeth brushing techniques.

All Medical Brigades are encouraged to recruit dentists and volunteers interested in dentistry in order to host a dental station.


*  If you have a Brigade in Greece, this station will not be included.



Station 5: Extra Stations

Medical Brigades are encouraged to recruit healthcare professionals and bring supplies for additional specialty stations, such as:

  • Gynecology
  • Optometry
  • Physical Therapy
  • Lab work

Station 6: Prescription Drop-Off

All patients will be given a prescription slip to drop off at the pharmacy station. At the pharmacy station, volunteers will have the opportunity to sort medications and fill prescriptions under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.


*  If you have a Brigade in Greece, this station will not be included.


Station 7: Educational Workshops

While patients’ prescriptions are being filled, they will receive education on the following topics:

  • Mental health
  • Dental health
  • Sanitation and hygiene practices
  • Women’s health
  • Chronic Illnesses

Station 8: Prescription Drop-Off

After a prescription fulfillment has been reviewed by the licensed pharmacist on staff, volunteers who speak the local language will have the opportunity to provide the following prescription information with patients:

  • Types of medications
  • Dosage amounts
  • Directions for medication usage


*  If you have a Brigade in Greece, this station will not be included.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a Medical Brigade?

The Brigade itself lasts between 7-9 days. However, members of Global Medical Brigades University Chapters participate in Chapter activities throughout the school year, including preparation for an upcoming Brigade.

Is a short trip like this sustainable?

By itself, a 7 to 9 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:

  1. Regular, affordable access to a doctor and prescription medication
  2. Daily access to a trained Community Health Worker
  3. Continuous access to a clean water system with a Water Council in place
  4. >90% household adoption of latrines, eco-stoves and water filters
  5. Access to sufficient, affordable credit with a Community Bank in place
  6. Ongoing technical capacity for income creation and diversification
Who is eligible to go on a Medical Brigade?

University students who are at least 18 years of age and preparing for a future career as a physician are eligible to participate in a Medical Brigade. Students can join their local Medical Brigades Chapter or become a Chapter Leader, if a current chapter doesn’t already exist.

To be eligible for a Brigade and support the sustainable vision of Global Medical Brigades, students must participate in their local Brigades Chapter throughout the school year.

Global Brigades also offers opportunities for students and professionals in:

  • Nursing/pre-nursing
  • Dental/pre-dental
  • Public health
  • Business
  • Engineering

Do Brigades include any downtime for exploring the local area?

Depending on the location, Brigades do include some free time each day and a cultural activity at one point during the week. However, the Brigade itself is not designed for significant time to sightsee or participate in tourist activities unless chosen as an “add-on” after the clinical portion of the program.

Read more about voluntourism and how to avoid the common pitfalls of tourism volunteering.

How much does it cost to go on a Medical Brigade?

Donation goal ranges generally fall between $1,300 and $2,100 USD per student, not including airfare depending on brigade location, length and number of volunteers. (Airfare costs may be worked into an adjusted volunteer donation goal.)

In order to participate in a Medical Brigade, all volunteers must meet a Donation Goal. This is not considered a payment, but support toward our Global Brigades’ Holistic Model. Once a volunteer meets a set Donation Goal, they are eligible to join us on-the-ground to see their fundraising efforts put into action by participating in a Medical Brigade.

Your ground transportation, food, lodging, and emergency insurance are all covered during the Medical Brigade as long as you meet your Donation Goal. The funding that you raised also supports all the necessary costs for program implementation, such as equipment, medications, local doctors, pharmacists, translators, and support staff.

During your time as a participant in a Medical Brigades Chapter at your university, you will be given support to help you fundraise for your Donation Goal.

Scholarships are available for students who start or refer a new Chapter.

When do Medical Brigades happen?

There are various Brigades scheduled throughout the year, many of which occur during summer, fall, winter, and spring breaks. If you start a university Chapter, you’ll work with the Global Brigades staff to schedule trip dates that work best for your Chapter. Students who join existing chapters should consult with their Chapter Leader regarding upcoming trip dates.

What safety measures are employed during Brigades to protect volunteers?

Volunteer safety is of utmost importance at all times. Each country that Global Brigades serves in has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease the 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 Insurance on the Volunteer Resource Site along with results from third party safety audits.

How do I apply to go on a Medical Brigade?

Because our Brigades are built into a sustainable model of global healthcare, the application process for individual Brigades takes place as part of your participation in a local university Brigades Chapter. To join a Brigade, fill out the contact form below to learn more about opportunities on your campus. Our staff will help you take the next steps.

How Do I Join a Medical Brigade?

Get in touch with our team to start a Medical Brigades Chapter or join an existing group. Talk with our experienced staff 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.


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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.

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