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Advisor: Kathryn Kash, MD


The goal of this study is to understand the motivations of medical professionals who volunteer with Global Health Ministry (GHM) in Peru, Guatemala, Haiti or Jamaica. An online survey was administered to volunteers who served between 2004-2010 which included the Volunteer Function Inventory (VFI), questions pertaining to their personal experience, and demographic data. The survey also contained open ended questions which were analyzed for recurring themes of interest. One hundred and twenty five volunteers responded to the survey, a response rate of 62%. Of these volunteers 35 were men and 82 were women; with a mean age of 47 (range from 19 to 78); 81% were White or Caucasian, and 89% were college educated or above. All volunteers spend 1 to 2 weeks each year in one of the four countries. The majority (71.5%) of respondents served in Peru. Only 50% of the volunteers spoke the language of the country in which they were based. Survey responses to the VFI revealed that the majority of GHM volunteers choose to volunteer internationally because they are motivated by “values”, and seek to express them in a meaningful way. Following in significance was the “understanding” function, indicating that volunteers seek to better understand the world and its people, followed by social, enhancement, career and protective functions. A thematic analysis revealed that the volunteers felt that their experience with GHM was extremely meaningful because of: 1) altruism; 2) the life changing ability of the trip; 3) the people in the countries served; 4) team work; 5) change of perspective; and 6) God. The majority of respondents would return on another mission (96.4%). Based on these results, GHM volunteers are very satisfied with their medical mission experience and find it to be extremely meaningful. It is clear that the principles of GHM reflect the values of the volunteers.