twelvetigers

stabby cat
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Hello, pre-med and med students! I have taken it upon myself to organize a trip with VIDA (http://www.vidavolunteertravel.org/) that will be visiting Costa Rica and Nicaragua from August 8th to August 20th of this year. It's a bit last minute - the deposit is due May 8th - but it's a GREAT opportunity and I wanted to see if anyone here was interested.

So far, I'm definitely going, plus at least four members from the pre-vet section.

If anyone here is interested, please let me know (here or in a PM). You only need to include "SDN members" on your application (in the 'traveling with/know anyone' box) and they'll know you're in our group.

And, if anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them as best I can. :)
 

apumic

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Smells an awful lot like....



My question really is... how much will this short-term trip actually benefit the host country...?
 
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apumic

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I have no clue. haha. it could be....

Anyway, I just glanced at their site, but it had that voluntourism flair to it. They say they bring a lot of pre-health professional students down. What are you able to contribute to the host countries? What needs have been identified that you are able to assist with that do not result in dependence? Do you build long-term relationships with your hosts that you will continue to return and further over the coming years? Those are the kinds of questions to consider. (Sorry... I just got done giving this same talk to the team I am currently leading/training, haha... it's very fresh on my mind.)
 
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twelvetigers

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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VIDA sends medical, dental, veterinary, and construction teams to these countries on a pretty regular basis. I'm not sure how you could build long-term relationships with the residents without some sort of dependence forming, but it's just general health care. The medical and dental teams travel to remote areas where the individuals would have a great deal of trouble traveling the distance to a clinic on their own (and probably no money to pay for it). The veterinary teams work to educate the owners about the benefits of sterilization (no easy task) in order to reduce stray populations. They also offer general veterinary care and herd health (deworming etc).

From what I understand, VIDA often visits the same areas. I'm pretty sure that the regular health care over a few years' time would result in an overall improvement of health in the area.

Now, VIDA does take their volunteers on some recreational tours, or to visit the beach, etc. but any group going on a 13 day trip is guaranteed at least 6 days of clinics, each of them being pretty long and grueling. Add in the orientation and a considerable amount of travel, and the trip is mostly business with relatively little 'tourism.'

I'm sure there are a lot of volunteer groups out there, and each of them does things just a bit differently, but I think that VIDA is an excellent organization that has helped and will continue to help a lot of people (and animals).
 

ThaliaNox

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Now, VIDA does take their volunteers on some recreational tours, or to visit the beach, etc. but any group going on a 13 day trip is guaranteed at least 6 days of clinics, each of them being pretty long and grueling. Add in the orientation and a considerable amount of travel, and the trip is mostly business with relatively little 'tourism.'
My goodness! Working just under half the days of the trip would CERTAINLY take this out of the realm of voluntourism! :rolleyes:

Really though, while I'm sure you'll help people on this trip, do it only if you want to for your own self-enrichment. It isn't going to make or break your application for med school. These short term trips by completely uncertified pre-meds are "voluntourism", plain and simple. It's not a bad thing, neccessarily, but it is true.
 
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twelvetigers

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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I never said to do it so that you could put it on your application like some little gold star.

Six days isn't bad when you consider just how much driving is involved to get to your next location, since the trip spans two countries and the roads are a bit wosre than what we're used to here.

I was just offering it up since there's a group of us going. I'm sure it would be a great experience no matter how you look at it.
 

scb44f

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My goodness! Working just under half the days of the trip would CERTAINLY take this out of the realm of voluntourism! :rolleyes:
Just a note, the first and last days, which are included in the total of 13, are the days you arrive to and leave from Central America. There's no option to work in the clinics on those days. One day is spent driving from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. So you're down to 10 days after those are taken out. If you still want to call it "voluntourism" that's fine but I think this is one of those things where you get what you give.
 

heylodeb

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My goodness! Working just under half the days of the trip would CERTAINLY take this out of the realm of voluntourism! :rolleyes:

Really though, while I'm sure you'll help people on this trip, do it only if you want to for your own self-enrichment. It isn't going to make or break your application for med school. These short term trips by completely uncertified pre-meds are "voluntourism", plain and simple. It's not a bad thing, neccessarily, but it is true.

some of us enjoy doing good for others - regardless of whether or not it will look good on our application...
 
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In addition, the majority of the non-clinic days are spent traveling between clinic locations and training for the clinics. "For fun" activities make up a tiny fraction of the things done on the trip, and are usually done after the clinic has closed for the day.

That said, these trips likely represent a much higher benefit to pre-dent and pre-veterinary students' applications than they might to pre-med students, as pre-vet students are allowed to perform basic surgeries after training and pre-dent students can do basic procedures like extractions, something which they are not permitted to do without a license back home in the states. However, it certainly wouldn't hurt to go along and help. Most of the clinics are in rural, underserved areas, and VIDA uses the pre-health students as extra manpower to maintain semi-regular clinics in areas that would otherwise have little access to care.

Edit: Darn it, go along and help, not come along - I've already been. All this helping the pre-vet students figure crap out has got me tricked into thinking I can afford to go back this year or something. :p
 

jboz

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Runnnnnnnnnnn,

The VETS are infiltrating the premed forum!!

:boom: