Seventh-day Adventist-operated Kettering College has launched an International Medical Missionary program that will make it possible for students to spend a summer or full year as a medical missionary in remote medical clinics in places such as Asia, Africa, or South America.
Jake Ringering, a third-year Human Biology major at the college near Dayton, Ohio, is the first student to participate in the newly formed program that seeks to underscore the sacred work of healthcare. In June he started a three-month stint in a medical clinic on the border of Thailand and Myanmar.
Ringering is working closely with the director of the clinic, which is also connected to an orphanage and school. Besides supporting the clinic, his responsibilities include riding in the back of an ambulance in rugged jungle terrain to assistant during emergencies in the areas surrounding the clinic and orphanage.
“The director tells me this ambulance service is sometimes the only hope for those needing medical attention in this area because most don’t have reasonable access to bigger cities with medical facilities,” Ringering said. “I am so excited for the opportunity to learn and serve in this community.”
This hands-on medical experience is intended to not only provide a learning experience for students but to also further demonstrate Kettering College’s mission by exemplifying a partnership with health care and service, solidifying the concept of health care as a sacred work, college administrators said.
The timing of how to integrate the International Medical Missionary program with all the clinical programs offered at Kettering College is still under discussion. The end goal is to offer a seamless transition between the healthcare educational programs offered at Kettering College and the year taken as a missionary student.
Kettering College, founded in 1967 as the Kettering College of Medical Arts, offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in health science and is owned by the next-door Kettering Medical Center.
Victor Brown, Kettering’s dean for enrollment management and student affairs, said he has wanted to see this program get off the ground for a long time.
“We hope this program demonstrates that a healthcare profession is not simple about clocking in and receiving a paycheck, but it is about answering the call to care,” he said.
Steve Carlson, chaplain at Kettering College and the main organizer of the program, said this is a chance for students to take the skills they are learning on campus and use them in a real work environment where people desperately need help.
“It will truly provide hands on learning on how to care for an individual’s mind, body, and spirit,” he said. “Our prayer is that they return changed from their … experience and that it will enhance the things they learn in the classroom by validating the importance and sacredness to their calling of becoming healthcare professionals.”