Service Learning Trips Abroad Benefit Both Communities and Seasoned Health Educators

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Abstract

Service learning experiences abroad provide an excellent opportunity for seasoned health educators to share their skills with underresourced communities in other parts of the world while enriching their own professional development. Health educators have not traditionally participated in short-term medical service trips, which have become a popular humanitarian effort, yet their contributions can expand the scope of these efforts. With our responsibilities often focused on assessing needs, planning, implementing, and evaluation, seasoned health educators can provide guidance for new initiatives and share health promotion materials and other resources with communities in other parts of the world. In this commentary, I detail my experience as the first health educator to volunteer with a medical brigade that has served a rural community in Honduras for nearly two decades, and describe my added contribution of a brief intervention to address teen pregnancy during the brigade’s annual, medically oriented visit. I also reflect on the benefits to my professional growth from this opportunity to immerse myself in four very familiar areas of responsibility for health education in a new and unknown setting.

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