Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering a trip with IMR or you’re already signed up, you likely have many questions. We have many answers here. Take a look and if you still can’t find what you need, please email us or call us at 970.635.0110.

General Participation Information

IMR is a family friendly organization!  We love to have families, friends, and professional groups join together to share this experience.

  • Medical professionals – physicians, dentists PAs, NPs, nurses, EMTs, MAs, CNAs, etc.
  • Specialists – chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, mental health professionals, etc.
  • Students – professional students (medical, nursing, dental, public health, etc.), undergraduate students, high school students
  • Non-medical volunteers – all professions and levels of experience

A typical day on an IMR trip may resemble this:

  • Breakfast at the hotel or guest house followed by a short team briefing
  • Travel by bus, boat, or other transportation to a different community each day
  • Set up the mobile acute care clinic in the community using a pre-arranged facility or location (school, church, community center, open area using tarps, etc.)
  • Provide medical care, well-patient checkups, dental care, and community health education classes to 100-500 patients depending on the team size
  • Lunch at the clinic site
  • Return to the team lodging for dinner
  • Debriefing meeting
  • Prepare for the next day of clinic

We welcome student participation on all of our trips. Students work alongside the medical staff, have direct patient contact every day, and perform many functions of clinic, including:

  • Taking vital signs and assisting patients waiting to be seen
  • Shadowing providers and nursing staff, depending on interest
  • Assisting in the dental clinic
  • Developing skills in wound care and with laboratory testing under direction from nursing
  • Assisting in pharmacy preparing medications and other tasks
  • Providing community education in small classes on basic topics
  • Capturing statistics and pre-packing medications for clinic (evening)

Many schools offer community service credit hours for medical mission participation, and we can certainly verify the hours that you worked. Let us know how we can help you receive credit for your experience.

At least half of our volunteers have no medical background, yet their services are critical to the successful operation of our clinics. As a non-medical volunteer, you will work side by side with the medical team throughout the clinics, interacting with patients every day, as well as building relationships with members of the community. Community health education is a critical component for all short-term medical mission trips because it allows us to leave a lasting footprint on the community.

Some common roles for non-medical volunteers:

  • Community health education – we provide you with a variety of topics or you can choose your own topic to teach a class to the local residents that will help build and strengthen their community through health and wellness
  • Patient registration and intake, taking vital signs and starting patient charts
  • Assisting in the pharmacy
  • Assisting in the dental clinic
  • Patient escort services to the different departments in clinic
  • Trip historian – take pictures of patients and the clinic site, gather stories, and interview community members
  • Clinic set-up and breakdown
  • Capturing statistics and pre-packing medications for the next day’s clinic (evening)
  • Shadowing providers as desired

Nurses have many roles in IMR clinics working within their scope and comfort level.  We encourage you to discuss your specific skills with your team leader and providers on the team.  

  • Well Care: Assessing our well and mostly well patients and recommending over-the-counter medications.  You will be part of a care team with a physician or mid-level provider who will oversee you and act in an advisement and teaching capacity as you assess patients.  
  • Triage: Directing patients to sick or well care based on their vital signs and a very rapid assessment.
  • Wound care:  Treating major and minor wounds and teaching self-care to patients.
  • Minor procedures: Assisting other providers with minor procedures and teaching home care for those patients.
  • Laboratory, IV therapy, injections, and respiratory therapy:  IMR provides IVs, nebulizer treatments, laboratory testing, and injectable medications to our patients as required.  Nursing is responsible for providing these therapies and for overseeing other staff in the delivery of these treatments.  Nurses will work within their scope and comfort level in providing this care.
  • Community Health Education: Nurses will have the opportunity to contribute to our patients’ knowledge by educating them on specific complaints at their stations.  For example, you may teach about new baby care, asthma triggers and inhalant use, female infections, preventing sexually transmitted diseases and family planning, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
  • Patient transports and home care: You may have the opportunity to help transport patients to hospitals or do home care during the trip.
  • Pharmacy: You may be asked to organize and dispense medication and provide patient education on how to take and store medications appropriately and safely if we don’t have a clinical pharmacist on the team.

IMR is not a faith-based organization. We have volunteers, team leaders, in-country ground crew members, and patients from all faith backgrounds. Our focus is on improving the overall health of the communities that we serve.

IMR does not have the ability to recommend vaccinations for you personally, so you will need to consult with your healthcare provider. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has the most up-to-date recommendations for vaccinations. When you begin the vaccination process, your healthcare provider will pull up the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.

Your safety and security is the number-one priority of IMR. We have many protocols and policies in place to help ensure a smooth and uneventful trip, with the team’s safety and security always in the forefront. IMR staff will always monitor the situation and make arrangements for the safety and security of the team. There are things that IMR does to keep you safe in the field and things that YOU can do to keep yourself safe and healthy in the field.

Taken together, the following protocols, guidelines, and tips will help you have a safe and healthy journey.  We want you to feel 100% comfortable on every IMR mission trip; however, IMR cannot and does not guarantee your safety. There are inherent risks to travel and participating on medical and dental mission teams.  

IMR selects areas that:

  1.  Are not active conflict zones
  2.  We feel are safe
  3.  We have long standing relationships with
  4.  Are family friendly and where children are welcome
  5.  You would want to visit!

We:  

  1. Go the extra mile to have local security support for our team
  2. Provide a photo credential for each team member with U.S. Embassy contact information for your location on the back
  3. Disclose trip specifics including the itinerary only with our team members
  4. Provide business cards with an IMR email address for you to give to local people you meet on your journey
  5. Ensure the current ground situation is monitored by our Security Committee
  6. Register your team with U.S. Department of State

We are listed in Guidestar and our tax returns are public. You can print them from there. You may also see our most recent annual report on our Fiscal Accountability page on our website.

IMR’s team is registered with the United States Embassy and with the United States State Department. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals who may see U.S. citizen patients when traveling outside the U.S. The Embassy does not guarantee their services or recommend any of the physicians. Medical facilities in rural areas are often limited.

It is very rare that a team member must be evacuated either to the U.S. or the closest most appropriate medical facility, which may be in a neighboring country. The cost incurred for this emergency service can be enormous. Protect yourself by having insurance that will cover the costs and get you out emergently if needed.

For international medical and evacuation insurance, you can obtain a quote from www.insuremytrip.com for various medical insurance companies. Large carriers include the two below – please spend some time searching for the company and program that fits your needs. IMR does not endorse any companies listed – these are only a suggestion.

International SOS

Medjet Assist

IMR requires all licensed medical providers (doctors, dentists, nurses, EMTs, CNAs)  AND nursing, physician assistant, and medical/dental/nursing school students to carry malpractice insurance that covers them internationally. This will cover you in the event that a malpractice lawsuit is filed against you personally or against the team.

You have options for your malpractice insurance:

  1. Your current malpractice insurance carrier. Check to make sure your current insurance coverage will cover you internationally. Please provide IMR with a copy of your policy.
  2. IMR’s insurance provider. IMR can also facilitate a malpractice insurance policy for a small daily fee via IMR’s insurance provider. If you would like for us to help you obtain this coverage, please use the link provided by the IMR office (admin@imrus.org). The link is specific to each trip.

Malpractice insurance is REQUIRED for all medical volunteers and is RECOMMENDED for all non-medical volunteers. Undergrads are considered non-medical volunteers.

Malpractice insurance is REQUIRED for all medical volunteers and is RECOMMENDED for all non-medical volunteers. CNAs are considered medical volunteers because they have direct patient contact.

Trip Costs and Donations

The $100 deposit allows us to process your application and accept you on the team. It is applied toward the total donation for the trip you attend. It is non-refundable.

In order to guarantee your place on the team, we must receive the minimum donation amount of 50% for your trip before the payment deadline, which is typically 12 weeks before the trip departs.

We welcome applications to any trip after the 12-week deadline on a space-available basis.

The minimum donation amount covers:

  • the cost of your international airfare from a set location in the U.S.
  • lodging
  • meals (three per day)
  • in-country transportation
  • interpreters
  • clinic supplies and medications for our patients
  • costs associated with clinic setup

The minimum donation amount does NOT include:

  • Domestic airfare to the set departure city
  • Passport fees
  • Visa fees
  • Vaccinations, travel medications, recommended mosquito net
  • Special supplies recommended on SOME trips (headlamp, sleeping pads, etc.)
  • In-transit expenses (meals at airports, hotels required for delays, etc.)
  • Travel insurance, evacuation insurance, or malpractice insurance

The flying independently option covers everything listed above EXCEPT your international airfare. Many volunteers choose this option so they can extend their stay and take a few extra days to do some sightseeing after the trip.

Extending your stay is a great opportunity to see more of the country and relax a little after your IMR trip. Many volunteers choose this option. You will make the flying independently donation for the trip and then book your flight directly from your hometown to meet up with the team. You will need to make sure that you arrive in the country at the same time (or before) the team. All expenses outside the standard team logistics are yours. We have a travel agent who can help you coordinate your flights to match up with the team arrivals and departures. The agent can also assist you with tours and other travel packages.  Team members (minimum 50% of the donation paid) will be provided with the flight itinerary upon purchase of the subsidized tickets, approximately 11 weeks prior to departure.

The first payment deadline to guarantee your space on the team is 12 weeks prior to the trip.  This corresponds with the Early Bird Deadline, which provides a $200 cost savings to you!  This deduction is automatically applied to your account.

YES! You can join the team after the payment deadline. You will need to choose “independent” for your flight choice and donate the lower amount for the trip.  You are responsible for arranging your international flights and will be provided the subsidized flight itinerary after you have donated 50% of the minimum donation.  We have a travel agent who can assist you and make sure your arrival and departure times coordinate with the team flights. Our agent can also assist you with ideas and tours if you are planning to extend your stay.

You have two options:

Payment Plan Option: Contact the IMR office at admin@imrus.org to let us know you are setting up a payment plan. If you have 50% of the minimum donation paid before the deadline, we can still add you to the passenger manifest for the team flight. You would then be responsible for completing your donation at least two weeks before the trip departs.

Fly Independently Option: You can make the minimum fly independently donation and arrange your own flights to meet the team in country.  You must be a team member with 50% of the minimum donation paid to ensure your spot on the team and to be included in hotel, transportation, and leisure activities.  We require the balance of your donation and a copy of your international flight itinerary no less than two weeks before departure. We have a travel agent who can assist you at your request.

You have two options:

Payment Plan Option: Contact the IMR office at admin@imrus.org to let us know you are setting up a payment plan. If you have 50% of the minimum donation paid before the deadline, we can still add you to the passenger manifest for the team flight. You would then be responsible for completing your donation at least two weeks before the trip departs.

Fly Independently Option: You can make the minimum fly independently donation and arrange your own flights to meet the team in country.  You must be a team member with 50% of the minimum donation paid to ensure your spot on the team and to be included in hotel, transportation, and leisure activities.  We require the balance of your donation and a copy of your international flight itinerary no less than two weeks before departure. We have a travel agent who can assist you at your request.

All donations submitted to International Medical Relief (IMR) are non-transferable and non-refundable. If you are unable to participate in the trip, your donations cannot be refunded nor can they be transferred to another participant. Your donations will go to support IMR’s mission of providing medical, dental and surgical care to underserved and vulnerable people around the world, and we hope those who have donated funds to you will appreciate supporting IMR regardless of your participation in the actual trip.

All money raised for a particular trip must go for that trip. If you raise additional funds above the minimum donation amount, that is wonderful! We will use those funds to purchase additional medications and supplies for the team or to provide patient care to individual patients as needed.

You can log on to your IMR account at www.internationalmedicalrelief.org/account and click the My Trips & Payments tab. This will give you information about upcoming deadlines, pending donations from your donors, and the current amount due.

You may give the link to your personalized fundraising page on the IMR website to anyone who would like to make a donation and share it on social media. You can find your link by logging on to your IMR account at www.internationalmedicalrelief.org/account and clicking the Fundraising tab.

Payments take 24-48 hours to be processed and posted to your account and/or to your fundraising page.

IMR is proud to operate on a 1.5% operating and general overhead budget. That means that 98.5 cents of every dollar goes directly into your trip. These funds are used for the direct patient care including supplies, medicine, equipment, clinic fees, licenses, and clinic registrations. It also goes toward ground infrastructure like meals, lodging, interpreters, ground staff, and transportation. You may view an exact breakdown here: Trip Cost Breakdown

IMR does not currently have a scholarship program. The donation amount for each trip covers the expenses of each volunteer, supplies for our clinics, and medications for our patients.

Because IMR is a 501(c)(3) charity, all payments made directly to IMR are tax deductible. You will need to consult your tax preparer to determine which of your other trip expenses are tax deductible.

We are unable to combine a fundraising site for two or more non-family members.  If you and your family or friends are going to fundraise from the same pool of people, you should let donors know that each of you has a page and that they need to split their contribution if they want to give to both of you. This allows IMR to make sure that everything is handled appropriately for each of you.

Funds are not transferable (to other volunteers or another trip) or refundable.  Be sure to select a trip that gives you enough time to raise the support you need for the trip.  Start your fundraising early so that you can get the information out to your contacts and plan an event if desired.  Some great news for you is that IMR wants to partner with you to make it easier than ever for you to raise your support.  We provide you a customized link with your own personal fundraising page that you can send out to all of your contacts.  This, followed up by a phone call, will help you get started on raising support.  Your donors can easily provide you with finances in just a few quick clicks.  These donations show up within 48 hours on your fundraising campaign page as a donation to IMR for that trip under your fundraising campaign.

Here is a copy of the IMR Terms and Conditions:

Application Fee

Each volunteer is required to complete and submit an application along with a non-refundable fee of $100 for processing the application, verification of appropriate licenses and establishing a new fundraising page. The application and fee also hold the volunteer’s place on the requested medical mission trip selected on the application.

The application fee applies to your originally selected the medical mission trip. A new or updated application and application fee will be required for any change to your medical mission trip selection.

Fundraising

All funds raised through this website shall be credited to an individual user for travel with International Medical Relief to one of its destinations.  Raising more than the required funds will be considered a donation to the medical outreach the user is attending. Individuals can disconnect their fundraising efforts at anytime and they have full control over their fundraising page.

Refunds

I acknowledge that the all donations submitted to International Medical Relief (IMR) are non-transferable and non-refundable. If you are unable to participate in the trip, your donations cannot be refunded nor can they be transferred to another participant. Your donations will go to support IMR’s mission of providing medical, dental and surgical care to underserved and vulnerable people around the world, and we hope your donors will appreciate supporting IMR regardless of your participation in the actual trip.

No. IMR can only provide tax receipts for donations made directly to IMR.

If you or a donor makes a payment on the IMR website, you will be instantly sent an electronic receipt through a URL link. Additionally, by January 31st, donors with total annual donations over $250 will be emailed an additional receipt summarizing all donations for the year. If the donation was for less than $250, then the credit card statement or cancelled check serves as documentation for the donation.

Yes. You can request a donation receipt for in-kind donations for an IMR trip from your volunteer immediately following the trip.

Flights

Unfortunately, it is not possible to fly outside of the exact itinerary with the subsidized ticket. IMR subsidizes this ticket with the understanding of our air partners that it is a single itinerary without exception. If you want to make your own flight arrangements to meet the team in-country, you will need to make the “flying independently” donation. You also don’t have to purchase airfare to the point of departure as you would if you were flying with the team.

We recommend that our volunteers not purchase their domestic ticket to the point of departure until after the subsidized tickets are confirmed. IMR requests that you are at the airport five to seven hours ahead of your departure to allow for schedule changes/cancellations and flight delays. If you miss this flight for any reason, it will be your responsibility and financial obligation to meet up with the team. This can be very difficult! IMR does not guarantee a date when you will connect with the team if you miss any of your connecting flights.

Your participation on the subsidized flight is at a reduced rate and may require you to check an IMR bag or two of necessary supplies and medications. If you check additional personal bags of supplies, those will be at your own expense. If there are enough team members on the subsidized team flight to cover all the team bags, then you will be able to bring checked bags of donated supplies as your allotted checked bags at no charge. The priority always goes to the team bags.

IMR does not pay for airline baggage fees for your personal gear or in-kind donations. For all luggage fees that you incur for your personal gear or in-kind donations, IMR will be able to provide a tax donation receipt for your expense, so please keep your receipt from the airline.

No, IMR does not cover any baggage fees for independent flights unless we have specifically asked you to help with checking IMR supply bags.

To help reduce baggage costs, pack as much as possible in your carry-on(s). Remember, airline carry-on regulations vary and you need to adhere to any weight and size restrictions.

All of our trips are subject to minor date changes based on airline availability and ground conditions. For volunteers flying on their own, we recommend that you book your tickets at the same time as the subsidized tickets are booked to be sure of the confirmed dates and times. Please be sure that your travel arrangements fall within the scheduled team flight. You will need to meet the team at the airport upon arrival and your departure should not be before the team is scheduled to depart.

You will need to fly into the main airport in-country. Our trips include transportation between the main airport in-country and the final destination, which can include additional flights, buses, and boats. Please be sure that you arrive in-country before the team and do not depart until after the team flight has departed.

You will need to meet the team at the airport upon their arrival. All arrangements prior to meeting the team at the airport are at your own expense.

No. IMR hosts and ground crew are for the exclusive hosting of the IMR team in the field and will not be available to assist you with your personal needs.

Funds in Transit

IMR will begin hosting the team once you are in country and have met up with the team.  Should you arrive early or have layovers in transit, you will want to be prepared to have funds available. If you have an extended layover, there may be an option for you to depart the airport for a meal or a city tour. There are restaurants in the airports, and some have shower facilities or other opportunities for shopping. U.S. currency and credit cards like Visa or MasterCard are widely accepted, although you may want some cash on hand as well.

IMR is not responsible for extended delays affecting subsidized or independent transportation caused by weather, airline delays or cancellations, or unforeseen circumstances.  Any costs incurred during the delay or cancellation during transit, including the purchase of additional transportation, hotel, or food during these delays are the responsibility of the volunteer.  This includes no refunds for missing substantial portions of the IMR mission trip.

Travel Insurance

IMR highly recommends travel insurance for all of our volunteers. Check into what the options are available for unforeseen travel delays, trip cancellations, unexpected overnight lodging, lost luggage, last-minute health issues, missing a flight, and other issues.  Please read the policy you choose carefully.  

Flight Delays

If your flight is delayed, please contact IMR if you have the ability to do so. Contact information will be in the Departure Packet.

You will be getting a Departure Packet as we near your departure. The packet has helpful tips on travel, as well as instructions for checking in with your domestic carrier. Make sure to print the indicated pages in the packet and bring it with you to the airport as it will have important phone numbers for you to use while you are traveling should you have any changes to your schedule. The packet will also contain official letters from IMR to identify why you are carrying medications and supplies and letters that request a waiver of fees. While this is not guaranteed, the letters have been helpful. You can also call your local departure airport and ask for the stationmaster for your domestic airline – sometimes they will put a fee waiver in your record. Finally, by arriving early, staying calm, asking nicely, and explaining clearly the purpose of your request, you may be granted a baggage waiver.