Vida Medical, Dental & Veterinary Programs in Nicaragua

  • By VIDA
  • Reviews (52)
  • 97% Rating

Join Vida in Nicaragua with their veterinary volunteer programs. Vida currently offers 1-2 week long programs in Nicaragua for pre-veterinary and veterinary school students and recent grads.

Volunteers will work with experience bilingual volunteers and have the opportunity to assist in spaying and neutering as well as other hands-on surgical procedures. They will also learn recovery care procedures as well as how to administer vaccinations to both small and large animals. Gain practical experience in the field of veterinary medicine!

Learn more about Vida Veterinary Volunteer Programs in Nicaragua.

Program Info

Location: 
  • Nicaragua
Volunteer Types: 
Veterinary Service
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
Cost: 
See site for details.
See Additional Information
Age Group: 
50+
Languages: 
English
Spanish
Housing: 
Home-stay
Hotels
Application: 
Online Application
Experience Requirement

Program Reviews (52)

97%
Positive
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  • Impact
    95%
  • Support
    98%
  • Fun
    93%
  • Value
    98%
  • Safety
    96%
  • Andrew Forbes
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Mississauga, Ontario
    McMaster University
    Hands down the best service-learning trip I've experienced
    05/20/2014

    I have a whole journal of the amazing experiences I had on this trip. But in summary, the clinic days are extremely interactive, you learn an incredible amount from the amazing doctors that work with VIDA, you are surrounded by like minded-motivated-hard working people, you form many close relationships and you also learn a lot about yourself. Additionally, with all of the self-growth this trip provides you the opportunity to take advantage of, the staff here also make the trip an amazing time, and will do everything in their power to help each volunteer get the most out of the trip and have fun.

    How could this program be improved?

    I was so blown away and touched by the experience that I have no ideas of how to improve it.

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  • Brittany
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
    Other
    Nursing Clinical in Nicaragua
    01/27/2014

    This three week experience was the best experience I have ever had. The VIDA staff are all exceptional and very well educated and helpful. I never felt unsafe at any time, even when we were not in the greatest parts of Nicaragua. Our personal leader was Amy, and I would recommend her to each and every person who has the chance to experience Nicaragua through VIDA. Each morning we had breakfast at our hotel, got on the bus that was always on time waiting for us, and did our daily activities (traveling to clinics, hospitals, preschools, health centers, etc). VIDA provided us lunch many of the days and then we had the opportunity multiple times to eat dinner as a group somewhere in Masaya, Nicaragua. The days were long at times but if there was ever a time where we felt that something that was planned was too much for us, there was never an issue making other plans. We were always VIDA's first priority, which was a wonderful feeling that I didn't think I would have traveling abroad. I hope to go back someday!

    How could this program be improved?

    If I had to change one thing it would be having a more stable hotel to stay at. We moved hotels a few times and it was stressful each time because we needed to pack everything up each time. Each hotel we stayed at was a good experience, but having one or two hotels instead of three or four would be better.

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  • Stephanie Hart
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    New York
    Columbia University
    AMAZING!
    01/22/2014

    The trip to Nicaragua was absolutely amazing. The vida staff, doctors, and interpreters were fabulous and really helpful. I am really looking forward to going back to volunteer for Vida in the future!

    How could this program be improved?

    N/a

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  • John Shubeck
    Age: 31-50
    Male
    Hoboken, NJ
    Columbia University
    Columbia VIDA Nicaragua January 2014
    01/21/2014

    We ran out of several medications, some of our most common ones, which made it tough to serve the communities best. Our trip leaders, Edo and Tagni, were fantastic. In addition, VIDA seems to have an exquisite knack for choosing amazing interpreters. The care, dedication, and professionalism shown by interpreters such as Rodrigo, Jorge, and Felipe on our trip were indicative of an organizational culture and process that promotes the right values.

    How could this program be improved?

    See above regarding medications

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  • Anna Jaramillo
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Chicago, Illinois
    University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
    VIDA, the BEST decision
    01/21/2014

    As a pre-vet student, I need all the help I can get when it comes to gaining hands-on experience. This trip really exposed me to many new things and allowed me to participate in ways I never knew that I would be allowed to as only a pre-vet student. I learned so many things that I cannot even describe it all, you just have to go for yourself to see what I mean! I definitely want to go again in the future!

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish we could have educated the community more about their pet's care and needs (such as cleanliness and grooming needs) as well as proper ways to restrain their animals. I was saddened when horribly matted dogs came in and we were able to shave them down, but the vets did not lecture the owners about the need to groom or maintain their pet's coat on a regular basis. We treated the animals but we did not educate the clients as much as I would have hoped.

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  • Jamie
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Champaign, Illinois, United States
    Absolutely Incredible
    01/21/2014

    I participated in the VIDA Veterinary Program to Nicaragua and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I was fortunate enough to be with an exceptional group of veterinarians, staff, and fellow students and that really made the program so much better for me! I learned so much about medicine, life in another culture, and about myself! To top it off, I made a great new group of friends. I couldn't have asked for anything better and will definitely be looking into taking another trip in the future! Possibly Costa Rica!

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish we would have had a little more concrete information about everything that we would do once we got to Nicaragua. I was a little unsure about leaving the country when I didn't know much about my itinerary. However, everything turned out perfectly fine and I had a great trip in the end. But, more information upfront would definitely help put people's minds at ease.

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  • Megan Frizzell
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Champaign, Illinois
    University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
    I came back for seconds!
    01/21/2014

    I've taken two trips with VIDA for their pre-veterinary trips, and they are just amazing. I've gotten experience that I would have never received in the States and the staff members are so loving and fun that you never want to leave! I'm already planning my third adventure with them!

    How could this program be improved?

    It would be nice to get a little more history of the country we are visiting.

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  • R Patel
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    New York, NY
    Barnard College
    Medical team
    01/20/2014

    I enjoyed the clinic days the most, when the group worked together and got to know each other, the doctors, interpreters, and patients. The only difficulties were in saying goodbye to everyone at the end! I enjoyed being able to help diagnose and interview patients first-hand... It helped solidify my understanding of what doctors do every day.

    How could this program be improved?

    Having more clinic days!

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  • Kristyn Hosmer
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Ft Collins, Colorado
    Colorado State University
    Amazing
    01/19/2014

    I don't usually give reviews for things but the experience I had in Nicaragua with VIDA was too good not to share. The hands on veterinary experience I got was priceless. You get to do so much more then you ever get to do in the US. I learned skills normally only vet techs get to do. The veterinarian I worked with was fantastic and was so patient with us and taught us so much. I couldn't have asked for a better person to work with. The VIDA staff is also great. Our group leader was always there for us if we needed something and I always felt safe because he was always with its or at least telling us how to keep safe when we were on our own. The activities on our days off we're amazing and the cultural experience is something I'll never forget. This program combines everything there is to experience in a foreign country and I am so glad I decided to go on this trip. Best decision ever.

    How could this program be improved?

    The only thing I would change is to pick clinic sites that have a good track record. One of our towns had some slow days.

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  • Janine DePree
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Miami, Florida
    University of Miami
    Vida in Nicaragua
    01/19/2014

    The experience in Nicaragua was a bit different from Costa Rica. The staff was a bit harder to communicate with because of the language barrier. The surgeries took much longer on the whole than they did in Costa Rica.

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  • Hannah
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Oshkosh, Wisconsin
    Other
    Nursing in Nicaragua
    01/19/2014

    As being the first group of nursing students in Nicaragua, I had a great experience. The VIDA staff was very accommodating and found interesting places for us to learn and observe health care in Masaya and Managua. I really enjoyed the days spent at El Comejen. I felt most like a nurse here and learned/reviewed old material learned in school the most. It was also a great experience to help those in the greatest need. I would suggest spending at least one more day in this community and taking away one day from the clinic we spent four days at in Masaya. However, I did enjoy the days spent at that clinic as well. One of the struggles was all of the hotel changes at the beginning of the trip; not that it was a big deal, it was just a frustrating moment that, I think, scared a lot of people because we didn't know what to expect from then on. Another part of the trip that really impressed me was that you (VIDA) supplied purified water at all times throughout the whole trip. It was nice not to worry about buying or having access to purified water the whole time. One less thing for us to worry about!

    How could this program be improved?

    I would suggest spending no more than 3 days at one clinic site. However, the program I was on was brand new and specialized for nurses, so I know that not all of the trips are set up in this way.

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  • Oshkosh
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    United States
    University of Wisconsin
    Nicaragua
    01/19/2014

    Amy Garache was our group leader and she was amazing! She went above and beyond the whole time! Our experience would have not been the same without her!

    How could this program be improved?

    Be able to do more nursing skills

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  • Sarah
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Oshkosh, Wi
    University of Wisconsin
    Excellent
    01/18/2014

    This was my first trip out of the country and first mission trip. VIDA was more than wonderful and gave us opportunites and experiences that were excellent learning opportunites. Our TL, Amy, was the best TL we could have hoped for. She was excellent. So well organized and helpful and always had a smile on her face and kind word to say.

    How could this program be improved?

    Shorter orientation lesson the first day

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  • Ana Cruz
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Peoria, Illinois
    University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
    True impact in a beautiful culture
    01/18/2014

    Landing in Nicaragua, we didn't exactly know what to expect, but the VIDA staff was simply incredible. Eli, our guide and friend, gave us a warm welcome and made us feel at ease. Dr. Dometz and Eli joked around a lot and set the fun tone for our experience. Drs. Blanco, Cano, and Woodsley were incredibly passionate instructors and their patience, guidance, and compassion helped me learn so much about low-cost clinics as well as working with low-income populations. Our homestay "mom", Maria, was so kind and welcoming, putting all of my anxieties at rest. I really enjoyed traveling as a local, not as a tourist. The local families were so grateful and so interested in their animals' care, and I felt like I was truly making a difference. Over our six clinic days, we took care of around 180 companion animals and around 150 large animals! Finally, VIDA showed us the most beautiful beaches and towns of Nicaragua, like the Apoyo lagoon, Catarina, Granada, and the Pacific beaches. I would love to return, and even work for VIDA some day!

    How could this program be improved?

    One thing that would have helped is a little more information before we jumped on a plane and flew to another country. My apprehension was solely because I did not know exactly what we would be doing!
    Also, I felt we did not reach our full potential our first two days because we could have used a bit more training before leaving the States, as well as perhaps a practice run-through of a typical set-up and examination during orientation.

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  • Peter Duden
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    A Way to Experience Medicine
    08/20/2013

    VIDA gave me the opportunity to be hands on with a profession I had only been convinced of doing through shadowing and science classes. The medical experience VIDA gives was the primary way I determined that a career as a doctor would be the right path for me. My hands on experiences have included seeing a congenital disease where the the iris of the patient was missing in one eye, and understanding the effects of long term untreated diabetes on the body. While VIDA may not be as long or as recreational as other trips, there are still many opportunities for fun, and the clinical experience and service are always forefront throughout the program.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would recommend some experience in Spanish. You will have a more rewarding relationship with your homestays and patients.

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Alumni Interviews

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Brittany: I have always wanted to study abroad somewhere out of the United States. There were many opportunities that I came across, but I always came up with an excuse for myself as to why I could not go.

    When this opportunity came about, I was instantly excited and I knew it would be my last chance in my college career to study abroad. I did not hesitate once I signed up and am very thankful for the opportunity.

    Tell us about one person you met.

    Brittany: One person I met was Amy, the woman who was with us for our entire trip. She honestly made the trip worth it and helped us, and me personally, adjust to our surroundings.

    If it were not for her, we would have not had as many great experiences that we had. She has the biggest heart and always put our group first.

    She called ahead to restaurants to make sure they could feed us all and have it ready in a decent amount of time, she made sure we had cold, fresh water at all hours of the day, and she also was so much fun to be around.

    What was the best moment of the entire trip?

    Brittany: The best moment of the entire trip was being able to touch so many lives.

    I personally loved going to public clinics. We got so much experience there and were able to help in so many ways.

    We were thanked each and every day, multiple times a day for the help we brought the workers there.The smiles on those people's faces will not be forgotten, and being able to make a difference like that makes the trip worth it.

    What's something interesting about Nicaragua that the average person doesn't know?

    Brittany: I did not realize how beautiful Nicaragua is.

    On the days we were not working in clinical settings, we were able to explore Nicaragua. We went on a boat tour in Granada, hiked up a volcano, went and visited an active volcano, and many more things.

    There are so many beautiful areas of Nicaragua that are must-sees for anyone who is going to visit the country.

    Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

    Brittany: Yes, I definitely feel that my world view had changed.

    Going to Nicaragua was a culture shock for me. It was hard at first but I had to keep reminding myself of why I was there and how amazing this experience is for me.

    I thought, before going to Nicaragua, that I did not take things for granted. I was wrong. Going to Nicaragua has made me a better person and I truly feel that I don't take as much for granted anymore.

    I have shared my experiences with many family members and friends and I hope that my story impacts them as much as it has changed me.

  • What inspired you to volunteer abroad with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    A VIDA Volunteer and Stephanie at a clinic in Managua

    Stephanie: I decided to volunteer abroad with VIDA for several reasons.

    First of all, I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad to work with underserved communities, preferably in a Spanish speaking country since I have studied the language most of my life.

    I hoped that my understanding of the language and general knowledge about the culture would help me better relate to the patients I would be working with.

    Second, I had spoken to many volunteers who had previously been on VIDA trips (as well as read multiple reviews on the website) and the stories I heard were absolutely inspiring.

    Third, VIDA not only offers the clinical training and patient interactions I was looking for, but also a culturally enriching experience in which we were able to immerse ourselves into the Nicaraguan culture through our time in the home stays.

    I feel like my volunteer group got a better sense of what it is actually like to live in Nicaragua and the patients we saw appreciated the fact that we were living amongst them.

    This experience allowed us to get a better sense of the hardships our patients face in daily life and ultimately helped us to provide them with a higher quality of health care and disease prevention techniques.

    What was the best moment of the trip?

    Stephanie: Honestly, there were so many great moments on this trip, it is hard to think of the "best."

    Some of my favorite experiences involved meeting different patients and hearing about their lives. The biggest hurdle we had to get past was the fact that we were strangers to these patients, and we needed to find a meaningful way to connect with them in order to provide them with the best care possible. The best moments usually involved getting past our differences and relating to patients on a personal basis.

    One man who came into the clinic one day was a soldier in the Nicaraguan civil war. After initially being a little cautious in opening up to us because we were strangers and he may have thought we were only interested in his current medical condition, he soon realized that we were very interested to hear more about his life history.

    The conversation started with a little hesitance, but we quickly got to joking and wound up having a great conversation about his time in the war. He was also more than happy to show us all of his battle wounds and tell us the accompanying heroic tale of how he wound up with each scar.

    This experience was really enlightening and meaningful because it forced us as volunteers to realize that although we have good intentions, it can be a little scary for the locals to open up to us immediately because they may fear we will judge them.

    We all quickly learned that a big smile and having a conversation with our patients rather than a "medical interrogation" was the best way to get through to our patients and have the most meaningful patient contact.

    If you change one thing about your experience, what would it be?

    Stephanie: During our trip we traveled to Managua, Leon, Granada, and Masaya all in the span of 12 days.

    It was a little intimidating moving from place to place so quickly. I probably would rather have spent some additional time in each place to really get to know each of the communities a little better.

    There were a few clinic sites that we were only able to work at one day just because of time constraints - I think I would have preferred spending some additional days at each clinic site. This could be solved by extending the length of the trip.

    Tell us about one person you met.

    Stephanie: My homestay family was one of the biggest highlights of the trip. Before this trip I had never lived with a host family before and was a little nervous at first because I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.

    My homestay mother, Yelba, was absolutely fantastic. Our first day in Masaya, she and her two daughters took us on a tour of the city. She showed us the local markets, fun places to get traditional Nicaraguan cuisine, and some of the local sights (including lakes and active volcanoes.)

    She did a terrific job of making us feel like part of her family. Every day she cooked us traditional cuisine and was so interested in both sharing her culture with us as well as learning about our culture here in the United States. We all really enjoyed living with the family and surprisingly did not have any difficulty with the language barrier.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Stephanie: My experience in Nicaragua definitely affected some of my future plans.

    In the near future I plan to attend medical school. Now, in my search of my "top" school, I am looking for a medical school program that will allow me to go abroad (preferably for an extended time period.)

    From this experience, I have become interested in learning more about underserved populations, both in foreign countries as well as domestically. This experience definitely helped me grow as an individual and taught me how to create a rapport with patients by finding common ground despite our differences. This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned during the trip that will stay with me throughout my future career as a doctor.

    I think it will allow me to be a better doctor than those who have not had this type of experience.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Kristyn: As a pre-vet student in a college town with a vet school it can be very difficult to find opportunities to get experience in the veterinary field locally.

    I love to travel so I figured this trip would be the perfect marriage of things I love to do. I also had never had the opportunity to visit a third world country and going on this trip was a way to have a very new unique experience.

    I also really wanted to go on this trip to help people in need and the animals we saw certainly need our help. It is a great feeling to give back and I love volunteering so this trip was just a perfect fit for me.

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Kristyn: On a VIDA trip there are clinic days and days off.

    Clinic days start early with the clinics being open from 8am-4pm on average. As a part of the vet team we had two types of cases we saw. We did a lot of what we called consultations where we did a basic physical exam, de-wormed, and gave flea medication. We also saw spay and neuter cases and they got both the basic exam and the surgery.

    As a volunteer I got to help with every aspect of the treatment of the animals. The things I got to learn how to do included taking vital signs, doing the physical exam, giving injections, placing catheters, intubating, assisting with surgery, doing skin sutures, filling prescriptions, and anesthesia monitoring.

    By the end of the trip my group was so good at all the surgery prep, we hardly needed any help from our vet assistant. This is what was great about this experience is we got to do things on our own but we always had someone to help nearby so we had the confidence to get in there and try things.

    On the days off we got to explore some of the tourist attractions Nicaragua had to offer including a dormant volcano that had been filled in with water to be a lagoon, and going to the ocean!

    Tell me about one person you met.

    Kristyn with her host family in Nicaragua

    Kristyn: One of the other unique things about a VIDA trip is that during part of the trip you stay with a local family in their house. This was an amazing experience.

    I stayed with a lady and her son's family. Her son had an adorable little girl who was fascinated by me and the other girl from my group. Even though I did not speak hardly any Spanish I was still able to feel the welcoming nature of our homestay mom. She cooked both breakfast and dinner for us everyday we were at her house and her cooking was amazing!

    Even though I was quiet and couldn't understand much she always tried to talk to me and include me in the conversation when she talked with the other girl who spoke Spanish much better than me.

    I will never forget how wonderful and kind she was. It was something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do but it is really one of the most invaluable parts of the trip.

    What's the moment you will remember most 10 years from now?

    Kristyn: The moments I will remember most include saying good-bye to our homestay mom.

    Although I had not known her long and couldn't communicate with her much it was still sad to leave because she had made me feel so welcome and at home even without words. I only wished I could have thanked her as much as I wanted to.

    I will also never forget those moments in the clinic where I did something like placing a catheter, throwing some sutures and intubating for the first time. These moments allowed me to prove to myself that I do have what it takes to be a veterinarian and gave me a renewed drive to keep working hard to achieve my goal of becoming one.

    Any tips for someone considering this program?

    Kristyn Hosmer with fellow Vida Volunteers

    Kristyn: Don't worry so much about the little things when considering whether or not you'd want to go. VIDA is a fantastic group and takes care of its volunteers so well making it so easy to travel there.

    Also don't worry about not knowing everyone that goes on the trip. Being together as much time as you will be its really hard not to get to know the other people on your trip. You will all become friends really fast.

    Ultimately if you like to travel, volunteer and have fun a VIDA trip is a really good option for you. It is worth every penny and so much more! The things you learn and the experiences you gain are invaluable!

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Brittany: I have always wanted to study abroad somewhere out of the United States. There were many opportunities that I came across, but I always came up with an excuse for myself as to why I could not go.

    When this opportunity came about, I was instantly excited and I knew it would be my last chance in my college career to study abroad. I did not hesitate once I signed up and am very thankful for the opportunity.

    Tell us about one person you met.

    Brittany: One person I met was Amy, the woman who was with us for our entire trip. She honestly made the trip worth it and helped us, and me personally, adjust to our surroundings. If it were not for her, we would have not had as many great experiences that we had. She has the biggest heart and always put our group first.

    She called ahead to restaurants to make sure they could feed us all and have it ready in a decent amount of time, she made sure we had cold, fresh water at all hours of the day, and she also was so much fun to be around.

    What was the best moment of the entire trip?

    Brittany: The best moment of the entire trip was being able to touch so many lives. I personally loved going to public clinics. We got so much experience there and were able to help in so many ways. We were thanked each and every day, multiple times a day for the help we brought the workers there.The smiles on those people's faces will not be forgotten, and being able to make a difference like that makes the trip worth it.

    What's something interesting about Nicaragua that the average person doesn't know?

    Brittany: I did not realize how beautiful Nicaragua is. On the days we were not working in clinical settings, we were able to explore Nicaragua. We went on a boat tour in Granada, hiked up a volcano, went and visited an active volcano, and many more things.

    There are so many beautiful areas of Nicaragua that are must-sees for anyone who is going to visit the country.

    Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

    Brittany: Yes, I definitely feel that my world view had changed. Going to Nicaragua was a culture shock for me. It was hard at first but I had to keep reminding myself of why I was there and how amazing this experience is for me. I thought, before going to Nicaragua, that I did not take things for granted. I was wrong. Going to Nicaragua has made me a better person and I truly feel that I don't take as much for granted anymore.

    I have shared my experiences with many family members and friends and I hope that my story impacts them as much as it has changed me.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Alissa: I wanted to do a medical service volunteer trip and saw an advertisement for this trip on my university campus. I went to the information session and the trip sounded amazing. I felt it would provide a chance to volunteer with local, under-served populations and travel to a country I'd never been to with a group of my peers. So, I signed up.

    View in Nicaragua
    Explore Nicaragua

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Alissa: On clinic days: wake up around 6:30am, eat breakfast and go to work in the rural clinic with a lunch break. At night, dinner with host family, the group or free time. Travel/free days: one day we did historical sightseeing and pottery making in between the bus rides, the other we went ziplining.

    What made this volunteer experience unique and special?

    Alissa: My homestay was the highlight of my trip. I stayed with two other students and my host family was amazing - so much fun to hang out with, took us out and about and really welcomed us into their family.

    How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

    Alissa: Has confirmed my desire to enter the medical profession and made me want to do more volunteer trips like these. I am even planning on leading one next January to Guatemala.

  • Tree in Nicaragua
    Take a hike and explore Nicaragua

    Why did you decide to volunteer with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Matthew: I became aware of VIDA when it was profiled in the St. Thomas alumni magazine that my parents get. It seemed like a fantastic program and though it took a bit of prodding from my mom I signed up. I new that I needed to see whether I really wanted to get into medicine. The trip appeared to offer good exposure to medicine.

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Matthew: Day to day activities in the clinic involved seeing patients in teams of three with a translator. We would take a patient history and ask about symptoms and so forth. After this we would discuss what we though might be the cause and how we would treat. We would then present the patient's case to the attending physician and he/she would ask any clarifying question they needed, discuss a course of treatment and prescribe medication. We would fill the prescription at the pharmacy we brought along and explain the course of treatment to the patient. I was fortunate to have Spanish-speaking experience as this made making connections with the people we were treating much easier. It also made establishing a relationship with our host family much easier. Honestly, staying with the host family was one of the highlights of the trip. It was great to be able to interact in Spanish. SO much fun to speak!

    What made this experience unique and special?

    Matthew: I think the fact that we did stay with host families was the most unique part of both experiences. I know of many other medical mission type trips that don't involve a homestay and I must say the trip would have been far less impactful had it lacked the homestay aspect.

    What impact did this experience have on your future?

    Matthew: My experiences in Costa Rica gave me a healthy dose of humility. They also kindled in me a passion for primary care. After I went on my first trip my outlook on my future changed. Before I was simply taking the courses I needed to take without investing much energy. I left Nicaragua with a new sense of purpose and I am a better man for taking the trip.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with VIDA in Nicaragua?

    Olivia: I decided to volunteer with VIDA because a group of students from University of Maryland were going and one of my best friends told me about the program.

    Olivia and the other medical volunteers in Nicaragua
    Olivia and the other medical volunteers in Nicaragua

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Olivia: Daily activities included breakfast with my host family (which I really enjoyed), a few hours at a clinic, some free time, and usually a scheduled dinner when my group would meet up. On a few occasions we all went out after dinner to a discoteque, roller skating, or to play soccer.

    There were also a few days that we did not volunteer at clinics. We visited a hot spring, climbed a volcano, swam in Lake Nicaragua, and ziplined through the rain forest. My favorite memories were made on these days. As a volunteer at the clinics, we were responsible for taking patient vitals and communicating via translator what was ailing the patients.

    What advice do you have for future volunteers?

    Olivia: I would advise future volunteers to donate more medical supplies than they feel necessary. When I was preparing for my trip, I did not really take this part too seriously. Through my experience, I came to find that supplies are needed more than I had assumed, and I think everyone who as volunteered with VIDA would say the same. My hometown community was very supportive of my trip and donated a lot of supplies after my VIDA volunteer trip was featured on the front page of our newspaper.

    How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

    Olivia: This experience has been very beneficial when trying to find a job. It is a great volunteer experience that give you a lot to talk about during interviews and on your resume.

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.