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Perception of health trainees in Saudi Arabia towards international voluntary medical missions: Feasibility, expectations, and barriers
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  • Nouf Alkaabi,
  • Mohammed Al-Dubayee,
  • Amir Babiker,
  • Emad Masuadi
Nouf Alkaabi
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences College of Medicine

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mohammed Al-Dubayee
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences College of Medicine
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Amir Babiker
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences College of Medicine
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Emad Masuadi
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
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Abstract

Rationale: To explore perception of health trainees in Saudi Arabia towards international voluntary medical missions emphasizing on feasibility, expectations, and barriers. Methods: The study was a cross sectional survey of health trainees across medical, surgical, and allied health field allover Saudi Arabia from March 2017 until February 2018, using a validated standardized questionnaire that was adapted to assess interests, attitude, and perception towards voluntary medical missions. We have also assessed the awareness of available opportunities and the effect of mentorship in improving this interest. Results: A total of 589 responded to the questionnaire with response rate of 83.7%. Most were under 35 years with equal gender distribution. Majority were from medical and surgical specialties and were graduated from the western region of Saudi Arabia. Health Trainees considered volunteering as residents but did not have a previous experience in missions acknowledged that a presence of a staff member with regular participation in missions in their training environment had positive effect on their interest in international health (p= 0.038). Commonest reasons of interest to volunteer were enhancing technical and clinical skills and helping others in need. Moreover, having interest in tourism and learning about new cultures. Only 7 of 589 participants had an actual experience. We expressed the actual barriers they faced during volunteering trips. Interestingly, their colleagues with no similar experience have almost matching perceived barriers. The major barrier faced by those with a previous experience is “Lack of elective time” compared to “Lack of available organized opportunities” in the counterpart group. Conclusion: Exploring challenges and barriers from the Saudi health trainee’s perspectives on medical missions will inform organization for future opportunities. Coordinating medical and surgical missions through a unified authoritative body would allow better opportunity to override challenges and to improve the health trainee’s perception and participation in medical missions.