First Advisor

Dr. Naomi Olsen

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Dr. Tom Howe and Dr. Lara Narcisi


Dr. Abigail Schneider


Regis College

Degree Name




Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

79 pages


Service trips have become a relatively common part of society today. People in both the professional and academic world often jump at the opportunity to be able to travel through the lens of learning or working. Service trips are framed as excursions to help marginalized communities, in reality, the trips end up being more about tourism and travel. Despite the attractive façade of medical service, its harmful impact is evident when examining it further. Medical trips often fall into two categories, voluntourism and capacity building. Voluntourism has a number of flaws, which cause long-term detrimental effects to the communities visited by these groups. In contrast, capacity building is viewed as a long-term effective way to build up a community’s health care infrastructure by developing social factors affecting health. To find a better system for international medical service, we must examine the history, ethics, and underlying assumptions of the field. This examination can help us find the most effective, ethical, and least harmful international health service today. It is our moral and social responsibility to find ways in which we can promote sustainable and positive global healthcare changing how international medical service is conducted.

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado