Hoping to Help: Responsible Volunteering in Global Health


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Presented by the Des Moines University Global Health Department.

The debate over the value of short-term medical volunteer trips to poor countries is heating up. Some believe they are a wonderful opportunity for the privileged to learn while providing life-saving service to the poor; others believe they are a colonial venture with many possible harms to both parties. I embarked on the research for this book with the twin goals of obtaining mostly absent empirical evidence about this growing enterprise and magnifying the voices and preferences of host communities in the debate. This research—surveys, interviews, and participant observation in several countries—led me to delineate nine principles for maximizing the benefits of short-term volunteering, principles that can be applied to other fields besides health, and to domestic experiences as well. The following excerpts focus on two of those principles: the centrality of mutuality and of evaluation. —Judith Lasker

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Target Audience

This course is open to all individuals interested in global health.


  • Recognize the benefits and harms of short-term global health activities in low and middle income countries.
  • Summarize the characteristics of most effective and ethical programs.
  • Analyze and evaluate existing programs for adherence to best practice guidelines.


Judith N. Lasker, PhD
Professor Emerita, Sociology and Health Medicine and Society, Lehigh University

Relevant to the content of this educational activity, Dr. Lasker is an author and receives royalties from her book. 

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Date of original release: March 7, 2019
Most recent review/update: March 7, 2019
Termination date: March 6, 2022

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)
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Course expires: 

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No commercial interest company provided financial support for this continuing education activity. 


Everyone in a position to control the content of this educational activity will disclose to the CME provider and to attendees all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest. They will also disclose if any pharmaceuticals or medical procedures and devices discussed are investigational or unapproved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Determination of educational content and the selection of speakers is the responsibility of the activity director. Firms providing financial support did not have input in these areas. The information provided at this CME activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a healthcare provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition. The content of each presentation does not necessarily reflect the views of Des Moines University.

Available Credit

  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)


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