Vida Medical, Dental & Veterinary Programs in Costa Rica

By VIDA   Reviews (37)   96% Rating

Join Vida in Costa Rica as a volunteer in their field clinics! Programs in Costa Rica are typically 2-weeks in length.

Volunteers will gain hands on experience in patient care while learning and practicing basic medical examination techniques. Volunteers will work alongside Vida staff and licensed doctors to provide underserved communities with necessary services. Interact with the community and learn more about issues in public health.

There are also opportunities for volunteers interested in dentistry to help facilitate mobile dental clinics. Volunteers will have the opportunity to shadow experienced dentists and oral health professionals. Depending on their level of experience and level of education in dentistry, volunteers may even have the opportunity to perform procedures under the supervision of mentors.

Visit the Vida website to learn more about medical volunteer programs in Costa Rica.

Program Info

Location: 
  • Costa RicaSan José
Volunteer Types: 
Medical
Service Learning
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
Cost: 
See site for details.
See Additional Information
Languages: 
English
Spanish
Housing: 
Home-stay
Hotels
Application: 
Online Application

Program Reviews (37)

96%
Positive
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  • Impact
    96%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    92%
  • Value
    97%
  • Safety
    96%
  • Janine
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Miami, Florida
    University of Miami
    Great Experience
    01/19/2014

    This was the best experience. I had no previous experience being a veterinarian, and I learned so much from these two clinical days. The first day was hard trying to figure out everything, but the staff was always there to help. We were busy, but the work was so fulfilling that no one wanted the day to be over. I would definitely recommend this, and I am considering doing this program again another year.

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  • Janine
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Miami, Florida
    University of Miami
    Great Experience
    01/19/2014

    This was the best experience. I had no previous experience being a veterinarian, and I learned so much from these two clinical days. The first day was hard trying to figure out everything, but the staff was always there to help. We were busy, but the work was so fulfilling that no one wanted the day to be over. I would definitely recommend this, and I am considering doing this program again another year.

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  • Kelly
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    University of Minnesota
    Costa Rica VIDA
    09/16/2013

    the most difficult part of the trip were the long days of travel, however we took frequent breaks and for the most part it was nice to relax. All the staff were really friendly and interactive with us, very willing to help us learn any skills.

    The hardest part with the clinics was that there ended up being 5 doctors so we rarely repeated sx with the same doctor. This was difficult because even if we had done the same sx several times, if we'd never done it with that doctor before, they didn't really know our experience level.

    How could this program be improved?

    It would be nice to get some consistency with the doctors we do surgery with.

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  • Elyssa
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    United States
    Northwestern University
    Amazing
    09/07/2013

    I had a wonderful time on this trip and am definitely thinking about going back next year. Getting real hands on experience in my field was wonderful. The homestays were a great experience as well. I felt that I learned about Costa Rican culture as well as made a difference.

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  • Justin
    Age: 31-50
    Male
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    University of Minnesota
    Excellent Trip
    09/05/2013

    Very well organized and executed trip. I especially enjoyed the home stay portion. The clinics were well run. There was a good mix of clinic days and recreation days and the recreation events were fun.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would like to see the advanced veterinary students get more hands on surgical experience.

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  • PuraVida.
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    St Paul, MN
    University of Minnesota
    Costa Rica Veterinary Trip
    09/03/2013

    I really enjoyed the efforts that VIDA makes to immerse us in the culture while we were traveling. The home stays and night activities were wonderful and very genuine, which was great!

    The clinic days were excellent learning experiences and the local vets we worked with were very helpful and patient.

    Overall, a solid international learning program. VIDA has some wonderful relationships with communities around the country and that is priceless.

    How could this program be improved?

    One disappointment with the clinic days was that we didn't always get an early start and they stopped taking patients in for surgery at like 2pm, even where there were plenty more animals there that needed it. If we are there, we might as well work until there is no work, right? We only had 6 clinic days on a 12 day trip - I think you should either make more clinic days or get rid of any sort of time constraints on the existing clinic days.

    Also, the way that recovery from surgery is run needs to be reconsidered a bit. Recovery can be a very dangerous time of the surgical process and I did not feel comfortable leaving my mostly unconscious and hypothermic patients sitting in a big pile of animals with one or two people 'watching' 7 at once. If you removed the time limits on the clinic, we could still do more animals and not be so rushed through recovery.

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  • Emily
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Columbus, Ohio
    Ohio State University
    Amazing Experience
    08/17/2013

    As a volunteer in the Veterinary program, I found it very eye opening to see how animals are viewed/treated in Central America and how clinics are set up to offer medical services for them. It was also very eye opening for me to see how people in this culture live in rural communities. The food was always so fresh and the people were always warm and friendly. And the country itself was absolutely gorgeous. Although awkward if you don't know Spanish and the family you stay with doesn't know English, it was definitely worth staying in a homestay because it really gives you the full effect of the culture. As for highlights, it felt so good to help out needy communities and to send dogs home with brand new collars and leashes who had come in to the clinic with rusty chains around their necks. Knowing you are not only providing a service for the community, but educating them so that they may make better decisions for their animals makes you feel like you are making a real difference in the world. I experienced a couple of difficulties on this trip. Not knowing much Spanish did make it difficult to communicate with people there; however, there was always someone in my group to help me out. Another difficulty was the fact that they don't use gas anesthesia on patients. All of the anesthesia was intravenous so this made it quite stressful (for me, at least) when monitoring the animal during surgery. But in the end, I would definitely do this trip again!!

    How could this program be improved?

    If I had to change one thing about this program, I would have them consider using gas anesthesia on patients (although this is unlikely to happen since the clinics must be set up, taken down, and must be transportable).

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  • KaitlynW
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Knoxville, TN
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    Trip of a lifetime!
    08/06/2013

    I have been to many different countries: Italy, England, Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. I went on a VIDA trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua last summer and it was by far my favorite vacation of all time! We were doing things that really made a difference in the world. The people were so thankful and it was a very heartwarming experience. Zip-lining was so much fun and the resort we stayed at in Costa Rica was a blast! The views were the most breathtaking scenes I have ever experienced in a country. The only bad thing about my trip was that I got really sick, and I think it was due to parasites and/or bacteria. But, everyone else who was on my trip avoided this problem by taking anti-parasite, anti-malaria, and other recommended medications prior to the trip. If I had the money, I would go on a trip every break I had! Everyone should go on a trip like this! You'll be addicted once you start :)

    How could this program be improved?

    Going from Costa Rica to Nicaragua took an entire day because we had to wait a long time to cross the border. We were in the bus for about 7 or 8 hours from my recollection (which could be wrong). If I were to go again, I would probably do a trip where we stayed in one country.

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  • OSUBuckeye
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Columbus, Ohio
    Veterinary Program
    07/27/2013

    It was a really amazing experience. We worked hard every day but were allowed a lot of hands on experience and I especially enjoyed the case discussions at the end of the day.

    How could this program be improved?

    It would have been nice to have everything a bit more organized and for the doctors to decide on a single protocol. There were times when every doctor would tell you to do something different and be impatient that you had done it another way. It would have made it easier for us to streamline everything to be able to get as many patients done as possible if there was one protocol and one way of doing things.

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  • Taylor
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    United States
    University of California- Davis
    Lifechanging
    07/22/2013

    The mere fact that I'm doing an online review of this program speaks for itself that I believe in it and love it so much. I come from a background of no clinical experience, but from the first day of clinic, I was able to ask the doctors and vet techs how to do things, and they would walk me through the entire process, explaining patiently and clearly, so once I heard it once, it stuck. The sheer amount that they let you do is also unbelievable. As long as they think you're confident enough in your skills, they will let you do just about anything, but no worries, they're always watching, so there is no risk to the patient. The homestays were an amazing experience as well, and my Spanish improved so much! And the white water rafting as a recreation day? Let's just say that I found my new favorite hobby. This program is something I absolutely love, and I can't wait to volunteer for them next year.

    How could this program be improved?

    In all honesty, the only complaint I have is that we ran out of time during Orientation Day to go through an emergency Spanish lesson, but high school Spanglish was still enough to communicate with everyone. It just took a while and with the eventual help of a bilingual vet or team leader.

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  • Ali
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Burnsville, Minnesota
    EYE OPENING!
    07/18/2013

    This experience was AMAZING! I am so glad that I chose to take part in this experience. Not only do you get to experience a new culture, you also get one-on-one experience with people who live within these cultures which makes the experience even more rich! It was truly eye opening, and I will cherish the memories forever!

    How could this program be improved?

    MAKE THE TRIPS LONGER!

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  • Ali
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Burnsville, Minnesota
    EYE OPENING!
    07/18/2013

    This experience was AMAZING! I am so glad that I chose to take part in this experience. Not only do you get to experience a new culture, you also get one-on-one experience with people who live within these cultures which makes the experience even more rich! It was truly eye opening, and I will cherish the memories forever!

    How could this program be improved?

    MAKE THE TRIPS LONGER!

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  • Irka
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    New York
    University of Delaware
    Awesome Experience!
    07/10/2013

    I did the Costa Rica/Nicaragua trip a few years back, and I still feel it was one of the greatest experiences I have had. The staff were all amazing and devoted, and the hands on you get while just a student is tremendous. I would recommend this trip to anyone.

    How could this program be improved?

    I think it should be stressed how important it is for people to bring medications (especially flea and tick) to give out to clients.

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  • AIL
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    St. Paul, MN
    Saint Catherine University
    Fantastic Experience
    06/26/2013

    Fun trip, surprised by the quality of two of our hotels- much ritzier than expected. Eye opening and humbling to see and live with the communities. I feel like this trip gave me both the tourist's view as well as the local's view of the country. Couldn't have asked for a better experience! Great people and great staff!

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  • AIL
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    St. Paul, MN
    Saint Catherine University
    Fantastic Experience
    06/26/2013

    Fun trip, surprised by the quality of two of our hotels- much ritzier than expected. Eye opening and humbling to see and live with the communities. I feel like this trip gave me both the tourist's view as well as the local's view of the country. Couldn't have asked for a better experience! Great people and great staff!

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About the provider

Volunteer abroad with Vida in Central America! With Vida, you have the opportunity to gain experience in three main fields: medicine, dental health, and veterinary medicine. As a volunteer with Vida, you will work with local professionals in these fields in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Working with coordinators from the field, Vida Volunteer work to set up mobile clinics to provide easily accessible services to the people and animals of communities in need. Whether you are an aspiring health-care profession or just have a passion for helping others, Vida will provide you with a meaningful service-learning experience.