For those of you who do not know what I'm referring to, chiropractic mission trips are trips that are focused on traveling somewhere and adjusting/treating the masses gratis. The idea behind these, I do support however it is how they are organized, who they are marketed to and the service/disservice that they do, is what forms my opinions.
Throughout my chiropractic education, I've heard tens of stories from students who have gone on these trips. These are my conclusions:
1. They are not recruited out of a mindset of service but out of a want to travel and experience culture.
2. No adjusting skills are necessary "we'll teach it to you".
3. They serve one area for a day or two and no one will ever return to continue care.
4. The companies who coordinate these trips, make money out of exploiting students.
The students who come back from these trips regale in their long days, adjusting hundreds of people and the boost in their adjusting skills. Which is fine, they are utterly excited about their experiences and FINALLY feel ready to enter clinic. But I ask you, why aren't these students focused on honing their craft with their peers and professors? Why do they feel the need to "practice" on unknowing people in an exotic location somewhere? I believe this misstep to be unprofessional and borderline dangerous.
The key is that these students feel theses trips makeup in what they think their institution lacks. Heck, if you put in front of me the options to go to Peru or to sit in a lab for hours, weeks, months, years to perfect my art. I'd probably choose Peru too! But what about all of the things you learn from being in the lab for hours? Perseverance, Collaboration, Hard Work, Dedication? Why are we short changing ourselves?
In the mission trip option instance, the patient is the last thing they are considering. In our field, the patient comes first! To be a successful healthcare practitioner, this is how your mindset must be. Why aren't we of that mindset when we first step foot into our educational career? I'm not sure. Some will argue that being adjusted once is better than never being adjusted at all. I think that's cruel! These patients experience a glimpse of hope, perhaps pain-free movement for the first time in Lord knows how long and then you're just going to leave?
IF a "Chiropractic Mission Trip" is a must then at least do it in an area where you can refer them to an office. Or better yet, GO SERVE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY and actually make a difference! Set up a clinic and make cultural impact, don't drop in for a few days just so you can have a resume booster. It's irresponsible and unprofessional. Rant over.