Vida Medical, Dental & Veterinary Programs in Guatemala

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About

Join Vida in Guatemala as a volunteer in their field clinics! Experience the culture and history of Guatemala, its beautiful mountains and gorgeous southern coast! Vida Programs in Guatemala are typically 1-2 weeks in length.

Participants in the medical programs will gain experience working with patients while learning basic medical examination techniques. Volunteers will work alongside a staff of licensed doctors to provide communities with the services they need. Volunteering with Vida will give you a chance to learn more about public health and experience the rich culture of Guatemala.

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

Visit the Vida website to learn more!

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 31 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 16 - 30 of 31
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SarahElizabeth
10/10

Not What I Expected

I went to Guatemala not expecting much, but what I experienced while I was there was beyond anything I could have imagined. The VIDA staff was wonderful and all of the people that went on the trip were amazing. I arrived there not knowing any of the other volunteers personally and we all left as good friends. I would go on this trip again tomorrow if I could.

Yes, I recommend this program
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happyguatemalantraveler
10/10

Best Experience of My Life

The only bad part of the trip was when nine students got Salmonella from eating pink hamburgers in Antigua. Also a different student lost his passport. Both situations were handled really well by the staff. The rest of the trip was amazing. It made me appreciate what I have. In Guatemala toilet paper can't be flushed because of the bad plumbing system. I love the people there. They are so much more friendly and accepting than Americans. I had fun ziplining in Panajachel and going to the bars in Antigua. Edo was a great team leader, Luis was a great assistant team leader, the doctors were fantastic, and the interpreters became good friends. If you have a chance to go on this trip, do it, no matter the cost, because it's worth it, even if you don't know if you are for sure going to med school or dental school. JUST DO IT!

How can this program be improved?
More meals with VIDA maybe, it's hard to find good meals on your own. Also, more time to settle in when we first arrive.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Chai
9/10

VIDA ECGT010913

I came to VIDA with a few goals in mind, but those goals changed by the end of my trip. I used VIDA to possibly make my application stronger for medical school, but when the trip finished my heart stayed in Guatemala. The culture immersion was fun to see and the clinics we went to were very eye opening. It made me realize how comfortable and good we have it in the United States, compared to others living in developing countries. Everyone has their own insights and passion about serving others, but my heart never left Guatemala due to the things I've seen. I am already thinking about doing another trip with VIDA in the next coming up years (if time and money permits). Some areas of Guatemala may be more dangerous than others, but our team leader warned us before doing anything. This is actually a great benefit to the trip, because it shows how living in another area is so different from living in America. Some of the people I served in the clinic made me cry because it's sad to realize how hard they have to work for their food, not to mention their chances of seeing a medical professional for help.

How can this program be improved?
I wished we had more time to spend with our staffs outside of clinics too. It would be great to get to know them better outside of clinic because everyone was very welcoming. I felt like we didn't have enough time to mingle with the staffs to get to know them at a better personal level.
Yes, I recommend this program
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briannagohman
9/10

My Vida Trip

The trip was surprisingly organized. I felt safe the entire time. I can't explain how much I learned during the clinics, it was well worth every penny! The recreation activities were also very fun, there is something for everyone to appreciate.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked the clinic days more spread out if possible. Having 3 clinics in a row, twice throughout the trip is exhausting.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jessi
9/10

Trip of a lifetime

Traveling with VIDA is one of the best decisions i've made it my entire life. I've met so many new people, expanded my interest in new cultures and languages, and received the most applicable skills through clinic days that I would never have had the opportunity to receive in the States. I love it so much!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jonathan
9/10

How my experiences on VIDA put my life into perspective

Going in, I knew that volunteering in Guatemala would be different than my previous 2 VIDA adventures (both to Costa Rica and Panama). I was fortunate enough to be the coordinator of one of the first trips to Guatemala, and within a couple days, we could see why VIDA has reached out to these communities. We worked predominantly in rural communities where there was little access to adequate healthcare facilities and the standard of living was quite low.

Patients were coming into clinics because they were poor. Not poor in the sense that they were coming to clinics looking for money, but poor in the sense that patients were coming with diseases of the poor. We saw a lot of cases where patients had parasites, simply because the water in their area was contaminated. We had a case where a patient couldn't afford to keep her child and could not afford an abortion, so she had it illegally done. As a result, not all of the placenta was removed, and because of the tissue's aggressive nature, it turned cancerous and invaded the walls of the uterus.

Every time someone asks me about VIDA, I tell them that it's more than slapping band-aids on people's skin and more than brushing someone's teeth. On VIDA, you're dealing with patients with real and serious illnesses that need attention. But just as important as helping the communities was the impact that VIDA left on its volunteers. At the end of every trip, when I listen to feedback given to me by volunteers, I always hear people tell me that before VIDA, they weren't sure if medicine/dentistry was right for them, but after two weeks of volunteering, they knew this was their calling.

Personally, the biggest impact VIDA has left on me was a sense of how privileged I am to never have to worry about things like boiling my clothes, or worry about not having enough to eat. Sure I've heard and seen things about poorer nations around the world, but to actually experience it is a whole different matter. My experience with VIDA has really put everything into perspective. While we stress about school and exams, others in Central America and around the world are struggling to put food on the table. So whenever I'm stressed in school, I reflect on my VIDA experiences and realize that even in school I am lucky, and that many of the patients I saw would gladly switch places with me if they had the chance.

The experience I have gain from VIDA is invaluable. And what is extremely striking is how close to home these communities are to us. I can hop on a plane and within 4-5 hours, I can go from a first world to a third world nation. It truly is unfortunate how you don't have to look far to see poverty. Even within our own countries we have communities in need, and VIDA has inspired me to further my community work back home and help in any way I can.

Please feel free to read more on our experience here:
uwovida.blogspot.com

Yes, I recommend this program
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Dreamer
7/10

Truly Amazing Experience

I went to Guatemala last August as part of a school group to set up and run medical and dental clinics.

The first day we landed and were taken to an amazing 5-star hotel in Guatemala city. Here we got to meet the staff and had our orientation. The next day we departed to Antigua where we met our home stay families. We stayed with them for 5 nights. I was placed in a home with a wonderful family who took us in and made us feel very welcome. Even though our home stay family spoke English, they spoke to us in Spanish forcing us to practice the language.

Our first 2 clinic days took place in a rural village 45 min from Antigua. We set up shop in a house volunteered by a local. I believe by the end of the first two days we had tended to around 200 patients. The first clinic day was frightening since I had no clue what to expect. However, as the day progressed, I began to become more and more comfortable. In these few days, I had my eyes open to the conditions in other parts of the world. And I began to understand that the world I was living in back home, is not a reality for the majority of the world's population.

Our 3rd clinic day took place up high in the mountains- another village. None of us were aware that we were heading up to the mountains so most of us were unprepared, wearing only tee-shirts under our scrubs. The cold was unbearable, but nevertheless we pushed through and got to work. I remember children walking in with their traditional clothing consisting of shirts and skirts and wondering how they endured the harsh conditions up in the mountains. I guess they were in fact acclimatized to it. You would think being from Canada, that I would have been better able to handle the conditions.

We spent one night in Antigua going out to the local bars and clubs with the entire group. The next morning, we took a tour of the clonal city and went to visit an orphanage just north of the city. I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the orphanage. However, I was told it was because it was one of the best in the country and that the conditions of others are a lot worse.

We then packed up our bags, said goodbye to our home stay families and headed off to panajachel. This city borders one of the most beautiful lakes in the world- lake Atitlan. We stayed in a hotel together as a group this time, so it was fun as we were able to hang out and talk amongst each other. The next day we headed up north 15 min to a small city to run a clinic. We set up shop in their medical center. Now when I say medical center, I mean an open space with benches where we could attend to patients. We were only here for one day, so we needed to work quickly to ensure we saw everyone who was waiting in line.

The next two clinic days took place in another city, on the other side of the lake. It was in some sort of complex with multiple rooms- I cannot remember what the exact structure was used for. I remember the area bordering the lake with an astounding view. It was during the last clinic day, that I had an opportunity to work the Pharmacy helping one of the doctors give out the drugs prescribed to the patients.

During the trip, I encountered many emotional challenges along the way. The fact of the matter is it was heartbreaking to see these individuals lacking basic medical care. I mean here in Canada, if your sick with a bacterial infection, no big deal, go to the doctor and get antibiotics. On top of that I have insurance, so the drugs are covered for as well. However, it is not as easy for these people. Drugs cost money and most of the individuals we tended too did not have the funds to cover such costs. There were some cases, that even we could not help them- instances where the doctors suspected that they had cancer and informed them that they needed to go to the hospital ASAP. Those were the hardest cases to deal with because, you could see the happiness from their faces fade away as they were being informed of their possible condition.

Although the trip was emotionally challenging, it was also uplifting in many ways. These people have a sense of resilience, one that was passed on to me during my time there. The way they thank you after you have treated them, is truly humbling and made the trip worth it in the end.

These two weeks changed the way I view the world and have taught me to cherish and appreciate what I have been given. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to embark upon a life changing journey.

Yes, I recommend this program
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christvl
10/10

VIDA was the best way to learn about another culture and get hands on in my prospective field!

I had the best time in Guatemala! I really felt like I was able to make a difference in the lives of those I helped whie I was there. The VIDA staff were all knowledgeable, patient, and great to work with. I always felt like I i good hands and safe in the cities we visited. The price seems to be a lot but with all of the experiences and work that I got to do, it was well worth and I would go back and work with VIDA again and again!

Yes, I recommend this program
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CountryGirl
10/10

Adventure of a Lifetime

I was on the Vet Team in Guatemala. I learned soo much on the trip especially with the hands-on experience!! The scenery is breath-taking...literally. We walked around a town on one of the clinic days. It was a life-changing experience to see how other people live their lives on so little, but are completely happy. The staff is extremely nice, fun, and willing to meet the needs of their volunteers. The friends I made on the trip are friends for life. I would recommend volunteering with VIDA to any of my friends on those career paths and will definitely be going back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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kathryn1331
10/10

Amazing program

Volunteering with VIDA in Guatemala was an incredible experience. You get to explore a new country, and learn a lot about local culture. The VIDA staff prepares you well for your clinic days-which are amazing. You get to interact with the locals, take medical histories, and even play with the kids. Overall I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in volunteering while discovering a new country, regardless of whether you are interested in pursuing a career in the medical field or not.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Div
10/10

VIDA Medical Trip to Guatemala

I went into this experience with a lot of expectations, and I'm happy to say that the trip was WAY beyond everything I had hoped for. I learned a lot under experienced doctors and the very fun-loving staff, and had some unforgettable moments with the patients and locals. This trip helped me realize that the medical profession is right for me and is the reason I'm so motivated towards my goal of becoming a doctor now. I would give anything to be back in Guatemala now, it was truly an amazing experience!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Paul
10/10

VIDA TRIP TO GUATEMALA

My trip to Guatemala was a life changing experience. I had an opportunity to directly speak with and help treat various patients in different underprivileged communities. The staff, my group, and everyone we met along he way were so nice, helpful, and caring. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I learned about many tropical diseases as well as how to talk to a patient and make them feel comfortable. It really help put thigs into perspective for me. I love helping people and really enjoyed the opportunity to help these people but realistically I learned as much about myself through these people as I was able to help them.

Yes, I recommend this program
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b6
10/10

Amazing Experience

I volunteered on a medical trip, and it was an invaluable experience. The patients were wonderful and so friendly. The doctors were super nice and eager to explain diagnoses and diseases. I learned a lot and I really felt like I was making a valuable contribution. All of the VIDA staff were very helpful and fun to work with. The activities were well planned, as well. They are placed in between clinics for a mini break. Our activities were a tour of Antigua, which was so interesting, and ziplining, which was just incredible. My only suggestion: bring jeans and a sweatshirt, because some areas of Guatemala are chilly!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Megan
10/10

Vida Medical

I went on the medical trip to Guatemala and it truly changed my whole outlook on life. I realized more than ever that I want to be a doctor. I ended up writing a final paper for one of my classes about Vida and how I would expand the organization. The best part of the trip for me was getting to interact with the patients. I am planning on going on another trip next spring. I would strongly recommend Vida!

Yes, I recommend this program
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SaraJ
10/10

Best experience I've ever had

This was my first time visiting Guatemala, but not Central America. I felt like my time with the VIDA group allowed me to not only get the veterinary experiences I was going for, but also to get a great immersion into the local culture. They took many precautions to inform us on how to be safe and which foods not to eat, so my experiences in the cities and with the people were all really insightful and enjoyable.
The veterinary work was amazing! Getting to experience a clinic like that performing hands-on surgeries was only trumped by the huge impact I could tell we had on the people in the communities we visited.
Over all, AMAZING experience!

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...