EMAS Canada weaves different disciplines into cohesive high-functioning teams. Our aim is to maintain teams in which interdependence creates synergy for long-term impact that would not otherwise be produced by teams made up exclusively of healthcare professionals.

Even the narrower healthcare field of highly specialized surgical teams collaborate widely to co-ordinate the pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative units. Ward nurses, radiologists and anesthesiologists evaluate and prepare patients ahead of the surgical team, while the operative teams plan for equipment and supplies, operating lists, and perform surgeries whose long-term outcomes will depend on the services of post operative physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation. The spectrum of healthcare professionals for such teams include surgeons; ICU, ward and OR nurses; anaesthesiologist; physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Pharmacists, dentists and dental hygienists play an integral part in our China South Team as well.

Our Ecuador and China South surgical teams are successful because of the contribution of the non-medical team members: the team accounts, fundraisers, chaplains, administrators and EMAS office staff. The non-medical members of these units are integral parts of the team, they attend team meetings, participate in planning and goal setting, they contribute their unique skills and perspective to the overall team goal and operations. Some will travel to the mission field, while others will co-ordinate prayer and communications from within Canada.

EMAS uses short-term medical missions to meet individual needs of patients in underserved communities, for the long-term impact on health. This is effected by the integration of teaching and mentoring of local healthcare providers into our projects. The China East team brings together pediatricians, psychiatrists, child psychiatrists, child and youth mental health specialists, psychiatric nurses and social workers and health educators. This team works with universities, hospital and churches providing educational seminars and lecturers that promote mental health especially for the youth and children. To function effectively, this team needs translators, interpreters, clinical psychologists, child and family therapists, social workers. Through their chaplaincy, they are able to teach biblical child care and parenting without overtly proselytizing. The China East team makes significant contributions to health because they have formed long-term relationships within the team where different disciplines contribute to the success of the whole. They are not overwhelmed by the urgent needs of patients waiting in line (as would be the case if a team were solely made up of pediatricians). They are building the capacity of local universities and churches to meet the needs of more patients than they could ever see.

The flexibility within EMAS to use the interdisciplinary approach impacts the local church through what we initially envisioned as a dental team. At the first visit the Zimbabwe team in 2015 observed that the mission hospital served people from different denominations and that pastors are respected opinion leaders. If we are to impact the local community and improve dental hygiene we needed their support. EMAS in Zimbabwe experimented a year ago with a retreat for local pastors by taking a theologian to run a short in-service-training program for the pastors and their spouses. In addition to treating patients, the dental team visited local homes and schools in the catchment area of the same pastors and gave out free bibles in Shona. Since then several pastors meet once a month to pray for one another. 70 have signed up to attend the next EMAS led week of training. The goodwill for the future dental unit and for the existing hospital is becoming trans-denominational.

We are careful to maintain the utility of healthcare as a vehicle for the gospel of Jesus Christ, to do so, we have learnt the complementing and supplementing value of interdisciplinary teams.

All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)

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A physician and surgeon in his native Kenya, Peter has a passion for Christ-centred healthcare and has a wealth of experience both hosting and sending short-term mission teams.

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