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Humanitarian Missions for Residents and Fellows

Residency is an optimal time to participate in humanitarian mission trips domestically and especially abroad. Such service can hopefully set a pattern for future service and can be a tremendous learning and teaching experience. Without practice demands and with the energy and open-mindness that often is present in young people, you are encouraged to seek out opportunities to serve.

Searching for opportunities may take a considerable amount of time and effort to find one that is feasible for you. But it is completely worth it!

CLICK HERE to view our Humanitarian Efforts search page.

Some options for finding a mission trip:

  • A starting point is your attendings or other community otolaryngologists. Ask if they go on humanitarian missions and if you could join them. This is preferable since they already know you and would be more willing to oversee you in clinical work abroad. Local hospitals often have a multi-disciplinary team you could join.
  • Come to the Humanitarian Open Forum at the AAO-HNSF Annual Meetings. This is a 1-2 hour session where people make short presentations on trips they have done and report on their ongoing efforts. Speak with participants and ask about possibilities for joining them on future missions.
  • Create your own trip – several residents in the past have gone with one of their attendings to a developing country where they already had connections or did a similar service opportunity as a medical student.
  • Funding is often a major barrier to such service. For this reason, the Humanitarian Efforts Committee has created $1,000 travel grants for residents going on mission trips that last a minimum of 1 week. Learn More about the Humanitarian Resident Travel Grant or Apply Now. Additional funding sources may include your family, local otolaryngologists or societies, religious organizations, or corporate funding.

Tips for residents participating in international mission trips:

  • Work on possible funding sources – your training program, local otolaryngologists, family, religious organizations, AAO-HNSF travel grant.
  • Get a sense of what instruments or medications would be useful to the host country. Rechargeable items may be especially appreciated.
  • Bring pictures of your life – your family, friends, workplace – to share your experiences with others.
  • Take clinical photos to share with others abroad and to use in presentations.
  • Prepare short lectures. You could use pre-prepared PowerPoint presentations on the web and be ready to speak on various topics that the audience would like to hear.
  • When you arrive, resist the natural tendency to become introverted in a foreign environment in order to share as many of your experiences as possible. Ask questions about how they solve clinical dilemmas with limited resources.
  • While there, seek out opportunities and relationships so that you may potentially go back to the same city/hospitals after residency. Get a good sense of what their needs are; meet the heads of the hospital, officials, etc. whenever possible. Be thinking about options for the future while still there.


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Become a Member of AAO-HNS

Become a member of AAO-HNS

Receive many benefits to help you in your professional pursuits:  shape the future of the specialty, manage the business side of your practice more smoothly, and more.

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Humanitarian Opportunities

Humanitarian Opportunities

Do you enjoy travel or have a yearning to help others? If so, why not volunteer for humanitarian efforts?

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Awards & Honors

The Academy recognizes the extensive meritorious service of medical professionals' teaching, research, and leadership within the specialty.