Volunteer veterinarians are essential to the success of HSVMA-RAVS programs. We depend on the many knowledgeable, compassionate professionals who generously contribute their time and expertise. We literally could not do it without your support.
CLINIC ORGANIZATION AND ROLES
As a veterinarian on a HSVMA field team, your primary role will be to supervise and train veterinary and veterinary technician students in everything from physical examination to surgical technique. Student volunteers come to the program with a wide range of experience and skills and will require varying levels of guidance and support.
Depending on your areas of interest and expertise, volunteers may be asked to assist throughout the clinic from receiving to recovery. Veterinarians are frequently asked to assist in surgery, but may work in other areas as well and volunteers with interests in medicine, intensive care and anesthesia are always needed.
There will be a staff Trip Leader in charge of the trip, and additional staff veterinarians and technicians supervising various areas of clinic operations. Volunteer veterinarians and technicians will be assigned to work with groups of students in each area. Depending on your interests and organizational needs, you may work primarily in one area of the clinic or may rotate through new areas each day.
THE HSVMA-RAVS EXPERIENCE
The reasons for veterinarians to participate in RAVS are many and varied. They include an opportunity to practice medicine for the sole purpose of alleviating pain and suffering in animals who would otherwise go untreated. HSVMA-RAVS clinics also allow practitioners to share their skills and knowledge with students and many volunteer veterinarians find the teaching aspect of our clinics to be their favorite part. Certainly the chance to travel and interact with people and animals in “out of the way” places is an attraction. Many of the places in which we work are very scenic and interesting in their own right. If you haven’t experienced life on a reservation, seen the wide prairies of the Dakotas, or high desert of northern Arizona, HSVMA-RAVS is a great way to go there with a purpose.
You should be warned that working on a HSVMA-RAVS trip will not be a restful vacation. The days start very early and often end late. Sixteen hour work days are not uncommon. Accomodations generally consist of such luxuries as camping out on the floor of a high school gym often without the benefit of hot water or showers. There are often long travel times and meals can be sporadic. It should also be noted that teaching is exhausting work and the entire experience may be more challenging than you expect.
All that said, living and working as part of a team of dedicated volunteers to provide care for the neediest of animals and their families can be an amazing opportunity and a life-changing experience. In many ways the physical hardships add to the shared challenge of the trip and a sense of camaraderie. Adventure and humor are definitely two very important “senses” in a RAVS field experience.
In the case of veterinarians, who will be supervisors and teachers, it is critical that a standardized ‘curriculum’ is presented and we ask that all volunteers become familiar with our clinic protocols and be able to work within our established teaching guidelines.
It is worth noting that protocols in a field teaching clinic must take in to account a variety of factors and may differ somewhat from clinical protocols you routinely use. The HSVMA-RAVS website contains a detailed discussion of the essential protocols used in our field clinics, developed over years of experience and assessment. You will find that our medical, surgical, and anesthesia protocols are pretty “main stream”, but if there is something you do not understand or disagree with, you are strongly encouraged to contact us ahead of your scheduled trip.
Many volunteers have told us that the opportunities to work with dogs, cats, horses, and other animals afforded by HSVMA-RAVS are some of the most fulfilling that they have encountered in their careers. Further, the chance to help develop the next generation of veterinary professionals, while helping people and animals in need is a combination that is hard to beat. We hope you will consider volunteering with HSVMA-RAVS, and sharing your skill and knowledge.
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are eligible to receive RACE approved continuing education credit for their experience in HSVMA-RAVS field clinics.
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HOW TO APPLY
Before applying to participate in a HSVMA-RAVS field clinic, please be sure to review ALL of the materials in the Volunteer Information section of the website. Also review the specific Trip Details for any clinic you are planning to apply for. There is a lot of information here, but it is all important. The Volunteer Checklist provides a very brief overview of the application process and pre-trip volunteer responsibilities. If you have any question regarding expectations or requirements, please contact us in advance for clarfication.
Thank you for your interest in HSVMA-RAVS volunteer programs. We look forward to working with you!