Why International Medical Volunteering Does More Harm Than Good

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

The law cares about actions and outcomes, not intentions. When it comes to volunteering, so should we.

Sidney Peters. She’s the whole package: an incredibly talented athlete, an emergency medical technician (EMT), and an aspiring Coast Guard physician. She combines excellence, perseverance, and a sincere desire to do good under adverse circumstances.

Peters is the starting goalie of the University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey Team. The Minnesota Gophers hoped to become the second women’s hockey team in NCAA history to win three straight national championships. Clarkson ultimately won. But a main reason the Gophers got to the semi-finals was because Peters’ talents were able to pull the team out of a serious slump. No one expected Peters to turn things around for her team. She became a major story.

Asked how she kept her cool on the ice, Peters cited perspective she gained during a brief trip to Haiti last summer, where she volunteered as an EMT in a hospital. She treated patients with AIDS, tuberculosis, gun shot and stab wounds. She even learned to suture. She called it a “hands-on medical experience” that might help her get into medical school, but more importantly, allowed her to help others. By comparison, stress on the ice was relative.

From Role Reboot.