Interested in Going on an international volunteer vet trip with other SDNers?

Tco87

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So, I'm a first time applicant who's been waitlisted at the only two schools I applied to :( I was looking for things to do during the next year to improve my application (assuming I don't get in off one of those lists) and take advantage of the year off from school and found this:
http://worldvets.org/
Has anyone been on a trip with World Vets or another volunteer veterinary group that accepts non-vets/vet students? Also, would I benefit more from these trips if I waited to go as a veterinary student? Since they cost a fair bit of money, I'm assuming I won't go on more than one in the next 5 years (in other words if I go now I won't go again while in vet school).

Any advice or suggestions are welcome!!
Please and thank you :)
 

sirbuckie

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try searching for internships on the AZA website. Alot of these internships are unpaid, but a small amount of them offer a small living stipend
 

HopefulAg

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I second VIDA. It was excellent and cheaper than most other options.
Bout how much does it cost? I looked on their site and saw a $100 application fee, a $500 deposit, but beyond that, no pricing info.
 

Tco87

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Bout how much does it cost? I looked on their site and saw a $100 application fee, a $500 deposit, but beyond that, no pricing info.
They mostly range from about $1400 to $1700. If you go to their schedules page (http://vidavolunteertravel.org/schedules.php) and scroll down to the open trips you can see the prices for each trip.

Thanks everyone! I'm leaning towards the VIDA trips, mostly because it seems they let you do more hands on activities, even if you're not a veterinarian or veterinary student.
Is there anybody who went on or knows someone who went on a World Vets trip and can comment on how much they let non-vets and non-veterinary students do? I couldn't find anything on their website that answered that...
 
Jan 31, 2010
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They mostly range from about $1400 to $1700. If you go to their schedules page (http://vidavolunteertravel.org/schedules.php) and scroll down to the open trips you can see the prices for each trip.

Thanks everyone! I'm leaning towards the VIDA trips, mostly because it seems they let you do more hands on activities, even if you're not a veterinarian or veterinary student.
Is there anybody who went on or knows someone who went on a World Vets trip and can comment on how much they let non-vets and non-veterinary students do? I couldn't find anything on their website that answered that...
They let you do consults and surgeries as a prevet, so yeah, that's pretty hands-on :p
 

HopefulAg

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As in the pre-vet is doing the surgery itself or assisting? I would think the former wouldn't be legal but then, I don't know the laws of Nicauraga.
 
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As in the pre-vet is doing the surgery itself or assisting? I would think the former wouldn't be legal but then, I don't know the laws of Nicauraga.
I didn't believe it until I got there, but it actually is legal for the pre-vets to do the surgery themselves, by themselves, as long as they've been taught what to do and a licensed vet is present. At least on my trip, pre-vets checked the patients to make sure they're healthy enough for surgery, dosed and administered anesthetic, and did the surgery mostly on our own, only calling the real vets in when we needed help or were unsure about something. Before we were on our own, vets taught us courses on how to perform the surgeries (what the dosing for our anesthetic was, a review of reproductive anatomy, a step-by step talk through each part of the procedure and the reasoning behind each action, etc.), gave us rubber boards to practice sutures on, and guided our hands through the first 3 or 4 so we knew what we were doing and what everything looked like. By the 2nd half of the clinics, they were mostly floating around, helping translate and answering questions while the pre-vets ran the clinic.

The interviewers at U of MN looked like they'd crapped their pants when I told them that I'd already performed 12 surgeries, lol. I assured them that it was legal in Central America, and they seemed satisfied by that.
 

Tco87

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The interviewers at U of MN looked like they'd crapped their pants when I told them that I'd already performed 12 surgeries, lol. I assured them that it was legal in Central America, and they seemed satisfied by that.
Wow! 12!!:eek:
What I meant by my comment "it seems they let you do more hands on activities" was that VIDA seems more hands on than the World Vets trips. I saw in their site that they said pre-vets could do surgery, but 12?? That's amazing! I'm definitely leaning more towards their program now :)

I've been looking through the World Vets site and STILL haven't figured out what they let pre-vets do...
 
Last edited:
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Expect to work hard. We had more than 80 patients a day, a mix of small and large animal work, and 8 surgeries a day on average, with only 4 students and 2 vets running the whole thing. We didn't have fancy tools ( squeeze chutes, injection guns, etc) for the large animals, so we had to rope cows and wrestle pigs, too.
 

Tco87

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Expect to work hard. We had more than 80 patients a day, a mix of small and large animal work, and 8 surgeries a day on average, with only 4 students and 2 vets running the whole thing. We didn't have fancy tools ( squeeze chutes, injection guns, etc) for the large animals, so we had to rope cows and wrestle pigs, too.
Did you feel that the training that they gave was enough to prepare you for that work? I have very little experience with large animals, so I expect I'll need a lot of help in figuring out how to rope a cow or wrestle a pig.

I'd honestly prefer a volunteer trip that's very work intensive. Another reason why I'm leaning towards VIDA vs. World Vets is the VIDA trips are longer and volunteers are scheduled to work more. According to the World Vets site, most trips are 8 days and only 3 of those days are spent working in clinics!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate the help in making this decision!
 
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Did you feel that the training that they gave was enough to prepare you for that work? I have very little experience with large animals, so I expect I'll need a lot of help in figuring out how to rope a cow or wrestle a pig.

I'd honestly prefer a volunteer trip that's very work intensive. Another reason why I'm leaning towards VIDA vs. World Vets is the VIDA trips are longer and volunteers are scheduled to work more. According to the World Vets site, most trips are 8 days and only 3 of those days are spent working in clinics!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate the help in making this decision!
I felt challenged (and afraid, a few times!), but whenever we learned something new, the vets were right there to teach us. You never felt like they were holding your hand or protecting you from real work, but at the same time, you could be confident trying something new because they would always explain everything clearly and demonstrate it first. Besides, Michael (the vet who did most of the LA stuff with me) is a really strong guy, so I knew if a critter got out of control, I had backup.

VIDA gave us 6 (out of 13 total, I think) days of clinics, if I remember right. 3 in Nicaragua and 3 in Honduras. I thought that was going to be too few at first, but it's such hard work that 6 was plenty, and the non-clinic days were mostly travel days.

We did stop and have fun, too, though - there was a lot of adventure, partying and dancing when we were off-duty.
 

Whyevernot55

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I felt challenged (and afraid, a few times!), but whenever we learned something new, the vets were right there to teach us. You never felt like they were holding your hand or protecting you from real work, but at the same time, you could be confident trying something new because they would always explain everything clearly and demonstrate it first. Besides, Michael (the vet who did most of the LA stuff with me) is a really strong guy, so I knew if a critter got out of control, I had backup.

VIDA gave us 6 (out of 13 total, I think) days of clinics, if I remember right. 3 in Nicaragua and 3 in Honduras. I thought that was going to be too few at first, but it's such hard work that 6 was plenty, and the non-clinic days were mostly travel days.

We did stop and have fun, too, though - there was a lot of adventure, partying and dancing when we were off-duty.
I am so considering doing this over the summer. How much training did you have going in? The website mentions observing sx, practicing sutures, and survival Spanish - how much do you need to know before you go, and how much do they give you?
 
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I am so considering doing this over the summer. How much training did you have going in? The website mentions observing sx, practicing sutures, and survival Spanish - how much do you need to know before you go, and how much do they give you?
You need 20 recorded hours of surgical observation (I picked this up while shadowing for vet school), signed off on by a vet. About a month before your departure, you get a manual to study that contains all the info and some basic Spanish. Days 1 & 2 (IIRC) are class days, where your vets lecture your group on local diseases, the procedures, how to run a consultation from start to finish, and what the dosing guidelines and indications are for each medication we'll be using. Take notes on the medication info especially - you'll be too frazzled to memorize that info reliably, and it's better to take one student's notebook and just leave it by the drugs so you can peek at it PRN. You'll also have a short lab period where you'll be given a board covered in rubber to practice sutures on. The vet students have the most to learn (they don't let the human med or dental students do nearly as much, obv.) so expect to be last out of lessons - this will set a trend that will continue for the rest of the trip. After the medical classes are done, there are maybe 2 hours of survival Spanish.

Now, do you need to know all this perfectly and be super-practiced? No. I didn't really have sutures down before I got there - they just let me work on the board longer. If you want to practice at home, I hear raw chicken breast is good to work with - just get a needle driver from a vet you shadow, and you can use a curved needle and thread from a sewing kit if you don't want to waste suture. As for Spanish, my Spanish was total crap. I learned how to say "Hold the head" and "Does he bite?" and those were my most useful phrases. You can't get worse than my Spanish, and none of the other prevets really knew much more than I did. Luckily, the vets are from Costa Rica and speak great English, so you've got awesome translators when you need them.

They teach you a ton. I went in knowing simple interrupted sutures and what a spay/neuter generally looked like. I came out able to prep and perform an open or closed castration or a spay on my own, place IV catheters, give IM, subq and IV injections to large and small animals, administer IV fluids to a dehydrated animal, and do a full checkup on a small animal (heart, lungs, gums, eyes, ears, temp etc. etc.), among other things. Totally worth the time and money.
 

Whyevernot55

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Thanks for the great info - it's nice to hear about an experience someone has actually had! I've be SUPER lucky to assist at a clinic where all of us basically perform tech duties, so I've had more hands on than a lot of people get.
This, however, sounds INTENSE and fantastic and terrifying! :laugh:
 
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Thanks for the great info - it's nice to hear about an experience someone has actually had! I've be SUPER lucky to assist at a clinic where all of us basically perform tech duties, so I've had more hands on than a lot of people get.
This, however, sounds INTENSE and fantastic and terrifying! :laugh:
UMN has this international vet grant application class I've been hearing about that teaches you how to get charity trips like this funded, or so I hear. I'm totally gonna try to take that class and go again, since I can't afford to go on my own now that I have to pay for vet school (Is there a smiley that says "mixed blessing" :p)
 

Whyevernot55

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UMN has this international vet grant application class I've been hearing about that teaches you how to get charity trips like this funded, or so I hear. I'm totally gonna try to take that class and go again, since I can't afford to go on my own now that I have to pay for vet school (Is there a smiley that says "mixed blessing" :p)
Ha! Sounds like the ideal class to take - those trips are most definitely not cheap.
 

bruinvetman

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what were the housing conditions like for the VIDA trip? Also, it says they include meals. Is there a vegetarian option?
 

cooniexp

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I went on a World Vets trip last June in Loreto, Mexico. It is a bit pricey but I think it was worth it. You'd definitely get a lot more experience as a veterinary student since they get to do supervised surgery. I went as a technician and also gained a lot of experience. I did some cat neuters and learned how to place catheters. I also met a lot of amazing people and it was definitely one of the highlights of my summer. You can PM me if you want more details. :laugh:
 
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what were the housing conditions like for the VIDA trip? Also, it says they include meals. Is there a vegetarian option?
For all but 3 days of the trip we were in fairly nice hotels - the 3 days we weren't in hotels, we did homestays with local families. The families are all checked out beforehand, and their houses were nice and in pretty safe areas, so don't worry about that.

They do let you pick vegetarian for your meals, and they send this info along to everyone, including your host families. There were 4 of us veggies on the trip, and we all were well provided for. That said, your vegetarian options are going to be BORING. Plantains, beans, rice, salty cheese, ad nauseum. Bring powerbars so you don't get dizzy b/c of low protein. My host mom was really good about veggie options, though - she made some good local veg dishes. We also went to a pretty swanky vegetarian café one day, which was nice.
 
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Hey Tco87 and everyone else,

If you are looking for something other than SA/LA and want to gain some wildlife experience, ACE (African conservation experience) is a really good organization. The only problem is it's pretty expensive!

I spent 3 months this past summer volunteering with a wildlife veterinarian in South Africa! It was by far the best trip I've ever been on. I got to work with all sorts of native African wildlife. We did translocations of rhinos and lions, collaring of elephants and cheetahs, I even got to see an elephant vasectomy! And so much more! Although the best part of my trip was hand raising orphaned white rhinos!!

It was awesome! Feel free to message me if you want more info!

I've looked into world vets too, I hope to do one of those trips in the next year or so! It looks like a good organization.
 

twelvetigers

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I'm heavily considering a VIDA trip this July/August. Any other SDNers thinking the same thing? It would be great to have a fellow SDN person on the same trip, IMO...

Tiktaalik, would a 7-8 day trip be worth it, or would one need the 13 day trip to get the full experience?
 
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I'm heavily considering a VIDA trip this July/August. Any other SDNers thinking the same thing? It would be great to have a fellow SDN person on the same trip, IMO...

Tiktaalik, would a 7-8 day trip be worth it, or would one need the 13 day trip to get the full experience?
I went on the 13-day and would probably recommend it just in terms of value. However, I also don't know how many clinic days you get on the 7-8 day trip. My fear would be that you would get less clinic days because they'd want to give you the same amount of break time, and so you wouldn't get the same depth of experience because you might not have enough time to get to the point where you're allowed to do things on your own. Then again, it's also possible that the 7-8 day is shorter b/c you only do one country, and so you'd just eliminate all the travel days. I'd call the VIDA office and see how many clinic days the 7-8 day trip gets - if you get the full 6, then you it won't be too big of a deal to save money and go on the shorter trip.
 

heylodeb

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Hey guys - I am SERIOUSLY considering going on a VIDA trip this year after pouring over the website for about 3 hours yesterday. I'm thinking about one of the trips in early august.

Unfortunately, I haven't exactely figured out the money yet.

I wonder if they would let us have a SDN group even though we aren't all from the same university? I'd be happy to organize but we would need 15 people min....
 

Tco87

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I really want to go, but I don't know if it's feasible for me to do this year :(
I'm getting married this Fall and that's draining my bank account.
That being said, if there was an SDN organized trip I would do my best to find a way to make it ;)

heylodeb - I forget, if you organize a trip do you also have to find veterinarians to come or just volunteer students and pre-vets?
 

scb44f

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I'd go for a SDN trip if it were late July or early August!
Ditto! I've been seriously considering going for it during this time period as well.
 
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hey im interested too! im from vancouver bc, and im looking for a 13 day trip around june/july or early august. real excited!
 

CurrySpice

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I would be interested!

I haven't gotten accepted to any summer research/internship programs yet, so my schedule is wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open (and I've got some $ saved up from working last summer)
 
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Oh darn, the VIDA trip requires rabies shots. It wont matter if you're going into vet school cuz you need it anyway, but thats 600 bucks!
 

twelvetigers

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Oh darn, the VIDA trip requires rabies shots. It wont matter if you're going into vet school cuz you need it anyway, but thats 600 bucks!
Where do you read that? All I see about immunizations is this:

(Costa Rica, Panamá, and Nicaragua)

Hepatitis B vaccine
Flu vaccine (optional)
Standard up-to-date USA/EU vaccinations (including tetanus)
Tetanus
*
 
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Oh darn, the VIDA trip requires rabies shots. It wont matter if you're going into vet school cuz you need it anyway, but thats 600 bucks!
They just recommend them. I didn't get them, and I think only one of the other pre-vet students did.
 

twelvetigers

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Whew! I have to get health insurance to go as it is. :hungover:

I messaged them to see if this is feasible, the SDN group - I'll let you guys know what they say!
 

heylodeb

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Hey all - sorry, been at work all day so I missed out on all the posting.

My hubby is a little leary on us sepnding the money (since we don't have it, lol) but if I organize the group, I could go for free. Which would be AWESOME.

Have you heard anything back, twelvetigers?

I don't think we need our own vets but you can ge a $300 scholarship if you recruit one to come with. Even if we don't organize a trip, let's at least see if we can all go on the same one.

woohoo - that'd be a BLAST!!
 

heylodeb

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I'm looking at the August 1 - August 13th trip. Does that look like the dates you guys were thinking about?
 

twelvetigers

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If we do our own group, we can pick the date I think. I'll let you guys know. I'm pretty flexible on the date so if anyone has something they must plan around, we can go from there.
 

scb44f

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If we do our own group, we can pick the date I think. I'll let you guys know. I'm pretty flexible on the date so if anyone has something they must plan around, we can go from there.

I'm open then as well. My only constraint is that classes begin the 4th week of August (which is really late for us, but also really great).


I'm excited to hear the response you get.
 

heylodeb

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I also start classes around the 4th week of august... we'd definitely want to go before then!
 

CurrySpice

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I'm looking at the August 1 - August 13th trip. Does that look like the dates you guys were thinking about?
Can you go on one that has a school name next to it? I assumed only students from that university were eligible...
 

heylodeb

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just s subtle bump so we can find it later. :)

I'm so excited about the opportunity. I'm brainstorming fundraising idea right now!