VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS AND EXPECTATIONS

General Information
What to Bring
| Expenses
Pre-Clinic Training | Travel Plans
Accommodations | Volunteer Assignments
Safety

Being a RAVS volunteer is all about dependability and initiative. To be an effective volunteer and to get the most out of your experience, you must be well prepared.

The following information details what will be expected of you as a volunteer. These guidelines are important for successful functioning of the clinics, optimal learning experiences, and, most importantly, patient and volunteer safety. We take them VERY seriously. Be sure you are able to meet all requirements before applying to participate.

General Information

Field clinics can be a physically and mentally challenging experience. The work is hard and the hours are long. You should expect to rise early in the morning (5 AM) and work for as many hours as are required to complete the clinic, often until 9 or 10 PM with extremely limited breaks.

All volunteers are expected to be team players and remain with the group throughout the trip. You should be prepared to live and work under a variety of conditions. The facilities that we stay in are safe, but often pretty basic. They include classroom floors, gyms, and tents. Often bathrooms, showers, and air conditioning are non-functional or non-existent. We try to make it as comfortable as possible, but we expect all volunteers to adapt to whatever conditions we are met with.

There are lots of other opportunities for travel and learning that are more comfortable than field clinics with RAVS. We are all about delivering the maximum amount of good veterinary care to animals in difficult situations. Our volunteers' primary concern is the welfare of their patients. Our teams work together as a unit regardless of the circumstances. Failure to bring an adequate sense of humor can lead to considerable discomfort!

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What to Bring
You must bring the equipment listed here. While there are usually places to buy sundries on most trips, such facilities may not be available every day and may not be particularly well stocked.

REQUIRED ITEMS:
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Camping mattress
  • Towel
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Scrubs (one pair/clinic day)
  • Jeans or shorts
  • Sweatshirt and/or jacket or other warm layer +/- rain jacket
  • Personal items for the duration of the trip
  • Mess kit with a plate, cup, and utensils (mandatory if you plan to eat)
  • Refillable water bottle (save the planet and save our hosts $$, drink tap water)
  • Stethoscope
  • Thermometer
  • Calculator (small)
  • Pens, Permanent marker (Sharpie)
  • Small notepad (pocket-sized)
  • Watch that counts seconds (buckle type can be attached to your belt for surgery)
  • Sterile surgeon's gloves (5-10 pair) in your size (vet students only)
  • A lab coat or smock to wear over scrubs while in receiving
OPTIONAL RECOMMENDED ITEMS:
  • Small bandage scissors
  • Head lamp or small flashlight
  • Snacks or other ready to eat personal food / beverage items as needed
  • Coffee, personal coffee press (if you are particular about such things)
  • Ear plugs and/or sleeping mask (sleeping space is usually shared)
  • Insect repellent and sun block

Do not bring fancy clothes, large cameras or other valuables.

Expenses

Trip Support Sponsorship: All veterinary student volunteers are required to meet a minimum fundraising commitment for each clinic they will be participating in. Minimum contributions range from $100-$500 depending on length of trip. See Trip Details on the schedule page for each clinic for specific trip requirements.

Veterinarians, veterinary technicians/assistants, tech students and non-veterinary volunteers are not required to participate in the volunteer sponsorship campaign but are welcome to participate and help support their team.

For additional information, see the Student Fundraising page.

Surgical Gloves: All veterinary students are required to bring 5-10 pair of sterile surgeon's gloves in their size for each week of clinics. Veterinarians are not required to supply surgical gloves. One source of reasonably priced gloves online is MooreMedical.com.

Travel: Volunteers are responsible for transportation to and from the designated meeting site, and all ground transportation during the trip. On some trips the team will move daily to a new site and you will need reliable transportation to each site.

We highly encourage you to arrange ride-shares with others on your clinic team both to conserve resources and to reduce the number of vehicles travelling with the caravan. It is very possible to participate with a limited budget if you are willing to economize and network with other team members.

For additional information, see the Travel Information page.

Food and Lodging: Once the team has assembled at the meeting location, food and lodging will be provided for the duration of the trip. Volunteers are responsible for hotel accommodations, meals or any other expenses before the stated meeting time and after the team returns to the meeting site. (Please see the note regarding food under Accommodations below)

Misc: Your only other expense will be incidentals, such as snacks or souvenirs "on the road".

Pre-Clinic Training
ALL RAVS volunteers will be required to participate in an online training program prior to attending any field clinics. All volunteers will be required to submit a score of 80% or higher on the online evaluation at least 30 days before your scheduled trip. New scores must be submitted anually regardless of prior HSVMA-RAVS participation.

A practical skills assessment will be administered to all veterinary students at the start of each clinic. The assessment will include basic knot tying and suture patterns, medical records, patient evaluation and anesthesia machine setup. Details on specific requirements will be provided in the volunteer training materials. Students MUST pass this assessment in order to participate in surgery during the clinic.

For additional information, see the Volunteer Training section.

Travel Plans
Travel details for each trip are listed on the Schedule page, via the VIEW DETAILS link under the your particular trip. All volunteers are required to submit their travel information, including flight or vehicle information no later than 30 days prior to their scheduled trip. Providing this information as early as possible is extremely helpful as it allows us to plan transportation and logistics details.

To submit travel information, see the Travel Information page.

Accommodations

Sleeping arrangements
will generally involve camping in a community center, auditoriums or vacant house. You should be prepared to sleep on the floor, regardless of how far you have been traveling or how long you worked that day. We make every effort to make sure you are reasonably comfortable, but you should be prepared for whatever accommodations are available.

Food and amenities are variable. Our hosts are generally good about providing both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. However, vegan food is usually "a bridge too far" and you should plan to bring your own food if you plan to adhere to your diet. On the other side, in some communities excellent vegetarian food is served and those who feel they must have animal protein in their diet should be prepared to bring some back-up supplies as well. In other words, if you have any particular dietary requirements, you should bring some packaged food along.

Occasionally, signals get crossed, and food does not show up. If these communities were well organized and wealthy, they wouldn't need our services! Having some snacks like granola bars, dried fruit and nuts, etc., especially if you need to eat on a regular basis, is a good idea. Peanut butter in a plastic container is easy to transport and meets all basic nutritional needs. (Okay, you do have to have coffee, too. . .)

Most communities will have showers. However, you have to realize that a team of volunteers can put significant strain on local resources and plumbing and or hot water does not always work. You do not have a constitutional right to a shower!

Our volunteers are courteous to hosts and are grateful for what is provided. Questions about food or accommodations should be directed to the team leader, who will handle all problems. Complaining to community residents or hosts is grounds for dismissal.

Volunteer Assignments
Students who have prepared fully in advance, can generally expect to rotate through each area of the clinic. On a five day clinic most students who elect to participate in all clinic areas and have passed the practical skills assessment will spend one day in surgery and two days each in anesthesia and receiving/intake. However, the scheduling of some trips may not allow for equal distribution of tasks and you will be expected to work wherever you are most needed. If your primary goal is to participate in surgery, this may not be the program for you.

You will be expected to work as a team and share in all duties. This includes clean up, packing, paper work, instrument prep, and occasionally cooking. Be ready to pitch in and lift boxes, scrub, and sweep. We make an effort to share work equitably, but if you do an extra sterilization or laundry detail, you should see it as a character-building experience. If you don't want to get your hands dirty, this is not the group for you.

Safety
Every effort is made to maintain volunteer safety. All volunteers must read, and agree to comply with the RAVS Safety Policy, which includes rabies prophylaxis and health insurance requirements. Additionally, if you have any health problems, it is essential that the trip leader know about them, as emergency medical care is sometimes unavailable.

By participating in a RAVS clinic, you are agreeing to release The HSVMA, The Humane Society of the United States, its staff, and the supervising veterinarians from liability for injuries that may occur during the trip or while traveling to the site .

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