Vida Medical, Dental & Veterinary Programs in Costa Rica

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About

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.

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Reviews

96%
based on 37 reviews
  • Impact 9.6
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 30 of 37
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jennifergray
10/10

Awesome

This was a truly awesome program, while a bit unorganized every once in a while, you feel very safe and are rewarded with incredible experiences. Definitely worth your time and money.

How can this program be improved?
Sometimes there was a little lack of organization but this was minimal.
Yes, I recommend this program
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LAXCRN010313
10/10

VIDA Medical Program in Costa Rica

I thought this program was an amazing opportunity and I had a great experience. It was very eye-opening and I wouldn't trade the experience I had for anything. I learned an incredible amount with the hands on medical training. Just knowing you changed the lives of many of the local people by treating them was a great feeling. I would encourage any one to go on this trip. With the medical training in the clinics, learning about the culture in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and recreational days, it is truly a great opportunity for anyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lizzy
10/10

VIDA Medical Costa Rica and Nicaragua

VIDA is extremely organized. You have a group leader who makes sure everything runs smoothly and doctors and interpreters who travel with you and educate you on the countries' history, government systems, ecosystems, and anything else you want to know about the culture. They provide clean drinking water at all times and plenty of meals during clinic days.

A huge issue for me was feeling safe. I can honestly say that I felt safe 100% of the time. When we had free nights to explore the towns near our hotels, the interpreters were kind enough to come with us and help us communicate with the locals. I never felt like my suitcases were in danger, either. The hotels we stayed at were really nice.

The clinic was the best part of the trip. You don't need to have any prior medical experience. I personally did, and it felt great to be able to teach my peers what I already know. There is a crash medical course the first day, and the doctors walk you through every step of the way. You will learn a lot about patient-care: how to take a health history, vital signs, and determine if they are normal or not. After interacting with the patient, you get to come up with a diagnosis, which you will present to the doctor. The doctor will then walk through all of the symptoms with you and explain what the real diagnosis is and why. The doctors are amazing teachers! I learned so much. Its an amazing feeling when you can start relating things from your science classes to actual patient care. The doctors help you to connect the dots.

This trip was enlightening and I feel like I came back to the US with a whole different perspective on my life and what I want to do in the future. This experience made me want to continue volunteering abroad with VIDA. I will definitely recommend VIDA to everyone and anyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Camille
10/10

Most amazing experience of my life!

I've travelled a lot in my life but I've never travelled for the sole purpose of helping others, which I found to be extremely enriching in all aspects. What I loved about VIDA is that there were clinic days mixed in with down days so it wasn't all just hard work because to be honest, the clinic days wear you out and you need the break of recreational days. We began the trip in Costa Rica in San Jose for orientation and then travelled via bus to Liberia, Costa Rica for our first 2 clinic days. During clinics you have time to play with the local children, which was a lot of fun even though I did not know a word of spanish. On each of the first two clinic days the dental team, which I was a part of, saw 56 patients; so in total for Costa Rica we helped 132 people. Since the dental, vet, and medical teams all volunteered in the same building we were able to observe how the other teams worked. I personally really enjoyed watching the vet team work because it was hands-on just like the dental team. During clinics my eyes were opened to how serious the people needed our help. The first clinic day was a day to get adjusted to how things will work for the rest of the trip and to practice using the tools in doing cleanings as well as aiding in extractions. After the first two clinic days, we headed to La Cruz, Costa Rica to relax and enjoy the sun. And trust me, use sunscreen! I'm still peeling! At La Cruz we stayed at a resort where we were able to take a short boat ride to a near by island for a hike and snorkeling (although it was too rough for us to snorkel). Although the hike was pretty tough, it was very rewarding when you got the top to see a 360 view of the bay. After La Cruz we headed to Nicaragua for our 2nd two clinic days in Masaya where we stayed with a local family. To be honest, at first I was terrified of the homestays because I didn't know what to expect nor did I know any spanish, but VIDA did an excellent job with pairing volunteers with the families and I'd have to say it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. After the last clinic day we headed to Managua, Nicaragua to zip line, which was a blast! Before I knew it I was on my home and upset that the trip had ended so fast.

Even though the trip was semi-pricey, it was worth every cent and I'd do it again in a heart beat! It was very rewarding knowing you made a difference in so many peoples lives. I could literally go on and on for days about this experience but I'll keep it kind of short. At the end of the day, I would 100% do this again and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!!!!!

Yes, I recommend this program
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PuraVida
10/10

Incredible Experience

From the clinics to the free days this program was incredible. Clinics ran very smoothly because of the patience and willingness to teach of the Dentists, and the volunteers felt like we actually made a difference; considering we were actually assisting as opposed to only shadowing. We had the unique opportunity to interact with the locals, leaving memories that I will forever cherish and never forget. On free days, we did exciting things like horseback riding, tubing, and we even spent an entire day on the beach. All in all, it was an unforgettable adventure that I hope to repeat sometime in the near future!

How can this program be improved?
When left to explore cities, we did not have much in terms of guidance as to where local hotspots/restaurants were. Perhaps this forced us to go out and actually explore, but I think I would have preferred a guide to which we could have referred.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cyacoub
10/10

Excellent

After clinic set ups, the doctors would diagnose the patients and tell the volunteers what as needed to be set up for each procedure. We had the opportunity to watch several procedures such as extractions and bad scaling cases. We got to talk with our patients and helping and giving to the kids as a unique experience in and of itself because we for to directly give them gifts that they otherwise would never have been able to afford. Seeing their smiles after we served them was enough reason for me to come back on this trip.

How can this program be improved?
The first few clinic days could have been more useful if we had prepared better on how to set up and if we were given specific directions.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Amazing Veterinary Experience in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

I would highly recommend this program. I am a pre-veterinary student, and it was wonderful to get all of the experience of preparing animals for surgery. We set catheters, intubated, did physical exams, gave vaccines and medications, shaved, administered anesthesia, and got to help clamp, cut, ligate, and suture during the surgeries with a vet's supervision. Every student usually got to assist with 1 or 2 surgeries per day. We worked in pairs and followed each patient through all of the steps: intake, surgery, and recovery. Lots of the animals were fearful and many had fleas/ticks and were underweight. The clinic days were about 8 hours long (8am - 4pm) and we set up clinics wherever we could (churches, schools, community centers, private property). It was much different from any veterinary experience I have had in the U.S. and I could really tell that we were making a difference, which was wonderful!
All of the staff was very helpful and I always felt comfortable and safe. We just always stayed in groups of three or more when we left the hotels, and didn't have any safety issues. We stayed in hotels for most of the time, and then stayed with home-stay families for a few days after crossing into Nicaragua. We only got a few warm showers on the trip, but since the weather was fairly warm and humid, I didn't mind! The main food items were black beans, rice, chicken, and plantains. Several people got sick in Nicaragua, but nobody got sick in Costa Rica. In addition to all the clinics, we did some fun stuff like playing on the beach, playing soccer, taking a dance class, and going ziplining. Spanish was helpful so that you could communicate with the home-stay families and people in the community, but all of the staff spoke English very well, so it was not necessary to know Spanish.
Overall it was an truly remarkable experience and I am looking forward to returning next year!

Yes, I recommend this program
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smyleeface17
10/10

Overall Experience

Traveling to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with VIDA was a truly amazing experience. Our group leaders were very helpful, welcoming, and shared with us so many great facts about the area and the people. They were very easy to work with! Having the opportunity to travel to travel to Central America was amazing. The people were very kind, welcoming, and friendly. Working in clinic was an eye-opening experience with learning what a strong patient-physician relationship looks like, learning about the common diseases/illnesses seen in the area, and having a hands on experience with taking vital signs, etc. The doctors were all very knowledgeable, friendly, and really took the time to teach us.
The host families were great; they took care of us and I felt safe while staying with the families! Also, the fun adventures like zip-lining and dance classes were very enjoyable!
I have grown as a person from this experience from learning about another culture, learning more about their accessibility to resources (i.e. medical), and the the increase of awareness about medical issues.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brittany
9/10

Third time around VIDA Volunteer!

Hi there,

This summer will be my third time participating in a VIDA trip to Central and South America. My experiences with VIDA have been absolutely amazing. I am an aspiring dentist and when I heard that VIDA offered trips to aspiring dental, medical and veterinary students I hopped on the bandwagon right away. I am so glad I did because I have learned so many great skills that I probably won't learn until I am in my 3rd year of dental school. I have provided flouride to patients, assisted the dentist in extractions, put on temporary fillings and taught the less fortunate how to keep up their oral hygiene.
Outside of the clinic days I have been surfing, zip-lining, rock climbing, climbed volcanoes, walked through the rain forest, and white water rafted. VIDA provides you with the right amount of volunteer work and fun. I reccommend this trip to anyone who wants to learn more about medical practices and loves helping the less fortunate.

Yes, I recommend this program
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SD
9/10

VIDA confirms passion for medicine

VIDA provided hands on medical experience while also serving the local communities of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The homestays were wonderful - our host mom patiently sat through our attempts to speak Spanish while making sure we were always full and comfortable. Never did I ever feel unsafe while in Central America. The food was delicious and having a few days off in between clinics allowed us to experience the culture as well. One of my highlights was seeing wild monkeys swinging in the trees while we were traveling to the ocean in Nicaragua. The trip is a little spendy, but totally worth it. Working alongside the physicians made me realize how much of a difference I could make in somebody's life by simply listening to them.

Yes, I recommend this program
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viajaresamar
10/10

Amazing Volunteer Program!

The VIDA program was an amazing volunteer experience. We had a mix of clinic days and free days, in which we went white-water rafting and zip-lining. The clinic days were so useful in gaining experience in the healthcare field, as we worked directly with the doctors in Costa Rica, and were able to see different cases of tropical diseases. We were also able to serve many different patients in the communities on the clinic days. We traveled in a bus together, and were given time to explore the cities and towns we visited, sight-see, and experience some amazing sights of Costa Rica!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kim
10/10

It is an amazing experience that I will never forget!

Like everyone leaving the country with people you don't know I was afraid of what was going to happen. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that every person I met (even the natives on the street) were nice, patient, and overall really happy to see you! We travelled to Masaya in Nicaragua as well as a few cities in Costa Rica. I the poorest cities in America parents don't let their children leave the house, however in Central America the cities that VIDA takes you to are so safe the the kids are running around all over the place. And no we did not spend every day in a run down hotel with no hot water (just 2 or 3 ;)). My homestay family were super sweet people and the two sisters are on my facebook now. The only thing not so great about the trip for us Americans was that the Costa Rican's eat dinner around 7 or 8 at night, so we were always really hungry. They also don't have quite the same strictness with scheduling as we do, so when you go don't expect to follow the schedule exactly. But, you should definately go! I hope to go back again before my college experience is over!

Yes, I recommend this program
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PLU2012
10/10

Great program to work with!

As a trip coordinator I was in constant contact with the VIDA staff in Costa Rica and they are great people to work with! The planning of this trip went extremely smooth because of them. They helped make it possible for many students to have the experience of a life time! I would recommend participating in a trip with VIDA to anyone who is interested in traveling abroad to gain great medical and dental volunteer experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Amanda
10/10

Life changing trip to costa rica

I went on spring break 2012 to costa rica. It was the most amazing trip I've ever been on. I loved our home stay family,friends we met,and medical knowledge I gained. If you have an opportunity to take a vida trip take it immediately.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Pau
10/10

Amazing experience!

Volunteering with VIDA was such a wonderful experience! I've volunteered with them twice (2 summers in a row). I got a lot of hands-on experience spaying/neutering dogs/cats. I learned a lot from their veterinarians. They were so helpful and so friendly! The housing was great. The families were stayed with were very hospitable. We also got to do fun activities, such as zip-lining and white water rafting, which were tons of fun! I would LOVE to go on another trip with VIDA!

Yes, I recommend this program

About Vida Volunteer

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...