My name is Sarah Martin, I am an RN who is working on getting my BSN degree. I am currently taking the Global Health Trends class at Eastern Mennonite University and am writing a paper about Mercy Ships. Is there someone that could answer a few questions for me?

How does Mercy ships do health and development? What is the philosophy of development? How are workers assigned? Since their is only one ship, I assume workers are assigned by their qualifications? Are their positions available "on land" in other countries or is it basically just on the ship? Are workers required to raise all of their own support? Does Mercy Ships provide any tips or information for raising this support? Is there an upfront fee or is it just a monthly cost? Is their a certain uniform/scrub color or can you wear your own? How does Mercy Ships provide emotional support to their workers? How does Mercy Ships orient workers - history, culture, language study, ways of working with people, etc...?

Thank you so much for your help! I appreciate it, and someday, I hope to serve on Mercy Ships!


  • Hi Sarah,

    I am Michelle Bullington, the Program Design Director for Mercy Ships.  I'll address your first two questions and let my colleagues respond to your questions regarding crew. 

    We have two primary areas of health and development.  First, we offer Direct Medical Services.  This includes providing surgeries onboard, our land-based dental clinic, a palliative care project, etc.  Our surgeries generally consist of maxillofacial surgeries, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, women's health (obstetric fistula and gyn surgeries), ophthalmic surgery, and plastic reconstructive surgery.  The focus of these projects is to offer free, high-quality services while demonstrating the love of Jesus in all of our interactions with patients.  Our second programmatic area is capacity building.  Capacity building includes professional development for African health care providers with an aim to improve the surgical ecosystem in partner hospital.  This includes free training for surgeons, nurses, anesthesia providers, support technicians, etc.  We also train local NGO’s in agriculture development as well.  To support the training efforts, we might also offer some equipment donations or renovations, but that is determined on a case-by-case basis.  All Mercy Ships projects are designed with consultation from the local Ministry of Health, development organizations, and other NGO’s working in the country.  To help us prepare for our projects and the ship’s arrival, we send various teams to learn about the country and their needs and to coordinate logistics for the ship’s arrival.  Ideally, these teams are deploed at different intervals a year in advance of the ship’s arrival.  The ship is docked in the host country for 10 months, during which most of our projects are implemented.  Our ship-based platform provides a clean, safe, controlled environment in which to provide care and offer training. 

    Regarding our philosophy, we aim to avoid dependencies while providing services and encouraging locals in their efforts to serve their people.  Because the ship is only in port for ten months, our model lessens the likelihood of dependencies.  As a quick overview, I’ve added our Programs Vision and Mission statements:
    Programs Department Vision
    To follow Jesus by providing surgeries and other medical services to the poor while enabling measurable transformation of a country’s surgical ecosystem, through partnership and  good stewardship.
    Programs Department Mission
    To allow national health care systems to increase services, lessen dependence upon surrogate providers, and improve quality of care as measured by pre- and post-assessments.
    • Establish country engagement plans to support the vision
      • Align programs with existing efforts for health care development
      • Improve the surgical ecosystem within designated, partner hospitals in the host country
      Identify, plan, implement, manage and report on:
    • Direct Medical Services Programs (surgical, dental and other ancillary, surgical-support projects)
    • Medical Capacity Building Programs (MCB) (Offer or facilitate training that transforms the trainee, patients, and ultimately communities and nations)
    • Infrastructure Renovation Programs (Focus on local hospital facilities as capacity building recipients and beneficiaries)
    I hope this informaiton is helpful for you. Please feel free to ask any other questions. 
  • Lori ThompsonLori Thompson Member Posts: 14

    Thank you for your inquiry.  I believe that Michelle has addressed your health and development questions.  My name is Lori Thompson and I assist our volunteers preparing for service with advice and coaching for support raising.  Like many other organizations, Mercy Ships does ask it's volunteers to build a financial support network.  I have attached a couple of the tips that are provided to our volunteers.  Each person's journey is unique and we advise them individually.  If you plan to volunteer for more than a year, Mercy Ships requires a training course before you serve which adds an additional cost at the beginning of your service.  If your service is less than a year the training is not required but things like travel to and from the ship, immunizations and the cost of living on the ship will need to be factored in.  We do provide a suggested minimum budget that coaches you throught the process of determining the amount of funds that will be needed.  

    This MyMercy platform also allows you to make inquiries from current staff serving on board the ship that might assist you in assessing what service with Mercy Ships looks like.  Your questions were all well stated and we look forward to others that you might have for us in the future.
  • Sarah MartinSarah Martin Member Posts: 2
    Thank you so much for your answers! They helped tremendously. 
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