DOCARE is a nonprofit organization that provides healthcare in the under-served regions of the world three ways: coordinating short-term global health outreach trips per year; supporting permanent primary care clinics in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Kenya, staffed by local physicians; and providing opportunities for medical students and residents to complete month-long rotations in these clinics.
The DO in DOCARE stands for “doctor of osteopathic medicine.” DOs were the founders of DOCARE. This degree is a close parallel to the more well-known MD (medical doctor); in the US medical system, both signify medical doctors. DOs are known, however, for their inclusion of a hands-on therapy called osteopathic manipulative treatment and for a unique commitment to empathy and compassion in their work. The remainder of the word (“care”) is not an acronym, but is styled in capitals so people don’t mispronounce it “doc-care.” (The word is properly pronounced “do-care.”)
DOCARE was founded in 1961 by a small group of doctors who would fly their own planes into the deserts of northwestern Mexico to treat Tarahumara people in isolated villages. The group received federal recognition in the 1960s, and has since enjoyed a variety of projects focused on providing care to underserved people in low- and middle-income countries.
Over time, we have done over 110 trips with just about every kind of osteopathic and allopathic medical professional, including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, paramedics, and medical assistants. In addition, our trips often involve lay volunteers who assist in logistical and administrative capacities, and translators, who might be health professionals or professional translators or might be lay volunteers with high-level or native fluency in a target language. To understand more of what type of individual is needed on a given trip, please look at the specific details of upcoming trip announcements.
Yes, our trips can include medical professionals in multiple specialties. Specialties needed for a given trip are typically included in the announcement for each upcoming trip.
Just as we’ve had several kinds of professionals come along, there are also several kinds of students we’ve included. Predominantly, our trips provide opportunities for students enrolled in US osteopathic medical schools. In addition, students from allopathic medicine, physical therapy and post-graduate nursing schools have come along. To a lesser extent, we have included nursing and pre-health undergraduates. To understand more of what type of student can come on a given trip, please look at the specific details of the upcoming trip announcements.
We are mindful of asking students to do work that is within their capacity and existing skill set. This work typically involves a range of primary care and public health activities. Depending on the particular student, that might include taking patient histories and completing physical exams, handing out basic healthcare items such as eyeglasses or vitamins, hauling boxes of equipment, translating, or assisting a physician as they see patients. All our trips also provide oversight via physicians who lead the trip and supervise participants’ activities.
Our clinics in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Kenya permit medical students and residents to complete a one-month rotation. See more here.
These are family healthcare clinics that predominantly provide walk-in care to under-served, low-income communities. The nature of the work also provides the rotating student/resident some insight into principles of global health, rural health, and care to low-income populations.
Local physicians are employed full-time at the clinics. These physicians supervise rotating students on sight. Additional clinical managers assist these visitors in transportation, housing, and communication needs, and the DOCARE secretariat in America assists with scheduling and administrative support.
For short-term global health outreach trips, please see our “Preparing to Participate” page. For rotations, please view the rotation pages and download the location-specific rotation orientation guidebooks.
In addition, once you have been accepted to a given program, you will hear destination-specific or time-bound information from your trip director or the DOCARE secretariat.
Participants on our short-term trip and rotations should not purchase a ticket or make any other definitive plans for travel until you hear back from DOCARE stating that you have been approved to participate.
DOCARE membership is a way in which our participants help support the organization. In order to participate in a short-term global health outreach trip, rotation, or other international opportunity, it is necessary to become a member of DOCARE. This low fee supports DOCARE’s operating costs, allowing us to coordinate trips, support clinics, and so on. See more and sign up here.
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Our Global Health Outreach Trip participants receive official recognition for their outstanding contributions to global health through our esteemed Global Health Certification. This certification serves as a testament to their unwavering dedication and remarkable efforts in improving healthcare access and making a positive impact on communities worldwide.
Simply complete the steps below (any documentation can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org):
- Be a current DOCARE Member.
- Complete an online Global Health massive open online course (MOOC) and submit the completion certificate.
- Attend two (2) live or virtual local, national, or international meetings or events on Global Health and submit the agenda with proof of registration.
- Complete two (2) weeks or more of a Global Health Outreach elective rotation at a DOCARE partner clinic OR a DOCARE Global Health outreach trip (Note: the two weeks are not required to be consecutive)
- Present your Global Health experience upon return
- Receive DOCARE Global Health Certificate!