Vida Medical, Dental & Veterinary Programs in Guatemala

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Vida Medical Volunteer Programs in Guatemala
Vida Medical Volunteer Programs in Guatemala

About

Guatemala is the biggest country in Central America. Unfortunately, it also sets a record by having one of the highest disparities between rich and poor as well as one of the highest poverty levels worldwide, with 54% of the population living below the poverty line in 2006 and 54% in 2011.

We currently intervene through three main fields of work: Medical, Dental and Veterinary, which are designed to promote health, ensuring a long-lasting impact while students develop both intercultural & leadership skills in a real-world context.

Vida offers a unique positive learning environment that will completely change your perspective on the idea of serving others. Students have a chance to work with local licensed professionals while providing services to the communities we have partnered with.

Highlights
  • Hands-on experience while working with local doctors, dentists and veterinarians
  • Cultural Immersion

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 34 reviews
  • Impact 9.6
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.8
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 16 - 30 of 34
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Tina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Opportunity

Interacting with the locals and making new friends were wonderful. You walk away with the irreplaceable feeling that you have helped someone, no matter how small the difference. This is the first time I've ever been out of the country and I can't wait to leave again, hopefully on another VIDA trip.

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Gwhatsup.
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I was so worried to travel down to Central America and I thought I was getting myself into something I would regret, but as we progressed into the trip in Guatemala, I realized this is something I want to do again. I enjoyed spending time in the clinic helping all of the people that came to get dental help. I liked how the dentists I shadowed wanted to teach me something while I watched what they did. I learned more from the 4 clinic days than I did by shadowing dentists here in the USA. The friendships I made on the trip were strengthened by the experiences that we endured together. Not everything on this trip was perfect, as 8 of my travelers got Salmonella, but this experience makes you realize that there is a whole world out there to be discovered. I am happy to have helped the people I helped. I really feel like I made a difference in their lives because VIDA gave me a chance to interact with them and learn about their lives. This trip has ignited the flame in me to really work hard to get into Dental School so that I may help others in this world.

What would you improve about this program?
More time for interaction with the people and children that come to the clinic, I never got to really hang out with them.
Have places to eat in mind for us, rather than just have us walk around and find a place.
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cynthiakay
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful!

I had a terrific time on this trip. I learned so much, not only about patient interaction, but about disease and medicine itself. The staff was patient, knowing that each student was at a different level in their education, and always teaching with every opportunity. I felt safe, but not smothered by the trip leader. Every problem that happened on the trip was handled wonderfully by the leader. Activities were planned during our time off so we weren't wandering aimlessly, but free time was also given.

What would you improve about this program?
More time to get to know the staff outside of clinics would have been nice.
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SarahElizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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happyguatemalantraveler
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Chai
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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briannagohman
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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

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!

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Jonathan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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Dreamer
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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christvl
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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CountryGirl
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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kathryn1331
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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Div
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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Paul
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.