R-VETS is a program dependent on the availability and dedication of its volunteers. Volunteers, whether they are veterinarians, veterinary students, or non veterinary personnel, are essential to the program, which would not exist without them. Our students come with a broad range of experience. They may be pre-vet, they may be senior vet students, they may be from the ECFEG program. They come to us with varying degrees of skill and require different levels of support and clinical supervision. Our goal is to provide the necessary supervision, while allowing the student the opportunity to take on as much responsibility as they are able. In fact we usually ask our students to take on more responsibility than they have been afforded working in other clinics. It is truly rewarding to watch them become more comfortable making decisions on their own.
WORKING WITH RVETS - Is it for you?
There is more than one aspect of this work that volunteers find rewarding, and it is not uncommon for them to feel that there life has been changed by their experiences. Others cannot handle the physical challenges and pace of the clinic. There are many opportunities for service available through other organizations that are unquestionably more comfortable than an R-VETS clinic. Before applying for a space on one of our trips please do an honest self evaluation and consider the following points.
- Showers may be missed or cold
- You may work 16 hour days (after which you may not care about the meal or the shower)
- You will likely be sleeping on the floor
- There may be no coffee available
- You will be working outside and exposed to the elements
- Teaching is a lot more work than most realize. In addition to the physical and mental challenges of the work, to teach you must be “ON” all the time. This can prove to be too much for some, others thrive on it.
- We expect everyone to be looking out for not only their learning opportunities, but to treat the opportunities of others as if they are just as important as their own.
- Most of those reading this have underestimated the physical demands of these clinics.
Obviously there are some who love this work. For those of you who are not deterred by the above reasons not to participate, here are a few reasons to step up to the challenge:
- Providing care to patients who have no other opportunity to receive it
- Affecting students education and possibly their career path
- Exposure to different cultures and landscapes
- Working towards a common goal in an environment of camaraderie
- No one walks away from these clinics without having learned something
- Many walk away from these clinics having experienced significant personal growth
- Some walk away from the clinic having had deep life changing experiences
This may be an experience that you will not only enjoy, but may cherish, just make sure you bring a sense of humor and an open mind.
Student teaching is very important to us, but the needs of the patient will always come first. The clinics tend to be fast-paced and there is no way to ‘spoon feed’ in this environment. The web site gives volunteers the information needed to prepare for the clinics, including protocols used in the field. Adequate preparation will help you get the most form your trip. Don’t waste this opportunity. We expect that you will arrive having reviewed all training materials on the web site. The amount of work and therefore teaching available will vary with each trip, as the cases we see will vary. Actual clinic assignments are made to balance the team’s based on demonstrated knowledge, skill level, and the needs of the clinic.
As a student, you will be supervised by experienced veterinarians and technicians who enjoy teaching. There will be a staff Veterinarian leading the trip. There may also be volunteer veterinarians. Volunteer veterinarians will be assigned a team of students to work with/supervise. It is important for the safety of both the patients and the volunteers that you follow directions during the clinic. Due to the case load, there may be times when it is not possible during clinic hours to explain every protocol or procedural choice. If you do not understand, or disagree with the approach being used, please bring this up during rounds. We love to discuss the reasons to use or not use any given protocol in the field environment in which we work, and to include the students in these discussions. This can stimulate really interesting rounds discussions, an important part of the learning opportunity.
VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS AND EXPECTATIONS
Dependability and initiative are musts if you want to work with R-VETS. Our volunteers are expected to work as a team. The learning experience of those around you should be as important to you as your own. On trips where this is the case, the entire experience is more rewarding for every member of the team. On trips where this is not the case, the overall tone is different and palpable. The facilities that we stay in are safe, but minimal. They include classroom floors, gyms, and tents. Often bathrooms, showers, and air conditioning are non-functional or non-existent. Be prepared to adapt to whatever comes our way.
TRAVEL PLANS AND TRANSPORTATION DURING THE TRIP
- Each trip lists a meeting time and place, and a date on which your incarceration with us ends
- Once you have made travel arrangements and a minimum of 30 days before the trip, please submit your travel plans to us.
- If you will be driving please tell us how much space is available in your car for transportation of other volunteers. This will allow us to ensure enough space is available for those who are not driving.
- Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation.
- Some days we will work in one place, and the patients will come to us,
- Other days we will travel from client to client.
- You will need reliable transportation for the duration of the trip
- Please arrange ride-shares with others on your clinic to conserve resources and to reduce the number of vehicles traveling.
FOOD AND LODGING: DOMESTIC TRIPS
- Once we leave the meeting location for the reservation food and lodging will be provided on all days considered working days.
- There may be the opportunity for a free day or two during the trip. This is not guaranteed. If there is, volunteers are responsible for feeding and entertaining themselves on these days.
- 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.
- Your only other expense will be incidentals, such as snacks or souvenirs "on the road".
PRE CLINIC TRAINING
- ALL volunteers will be required to participate in an online training program prior to attending any field clinics. As a part of this training, volunteers will formulate test questions and answers (10) based on the online training materials. These will be submitted online 30 days prior to the trip.
- A practical skills assessment may be administered the start of the clinic. You will be provided with the details of this assessment well before the trip.
ACCOMODATIONS AND FOOD
- Be prepared to sleep on the floor in whatever space the community has arranged.
- Generally a community center, occasionally a school, sometimes a vacant house. Food and amenities vary.
- If you have any particular dietary requirements, you should bring some packaged food along.
- Scheduling errors do, on occasion, occur and food does not show up. We recommend that you carry snacks as if you were back packing. Peanut butter is also easy to transport and requires no refrigeration.
- Most communities will have showers. They may or may not function. They may or may not have hot water.
- We are always grateful to our host.
ASSIGNMENTS AND PARTICIPATION
- You will be expected to work wherever you are most needed.
- We expect participants to work as a team, and to treat the learning experience of others as if it is as important to you as your own. Everyone learns more when the team functions this way
- We expect full participation out of every member of the team
**ALLVOLUNTEERS MUST READ, AGREE TO, AND COMPLY WITH THE FOLLOWING SAFETY POLICY.
PARTICIPATION IN ANY RVETS CLINIC IMPLIES THAT YOU HAVE READ AND AGREE TO THE SAFETY POLICY**
Every effort is made to maintain volunteer safety. Any health issues must be disclosed to the trip leader, as emergency medical care can be delayed in some of the communities we serve.
- Volunteers must carry personal health insurance, and an insurance card.
- All volunteers traveling outside of the United States are required to purchase additional evacuation insurance. You will be working in a remote area with minimal health care available.
Recommended Provider of Evacuation Insurance:
Phone: (USA) 800-523-6586
(Outside USA) 215-245-4707
- We recommend that all volunteers have a previous vaccination for rabies and a titer check within the past two years. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to have this done.
- Volunteers who have not been vaccinated or do not have an acceptable titer will be able to handle animals at clinics ONLY after signing a release of liability form which places all responsibility for post-exposure treatment and medical expenses related to the rabies exposure on the volunteer.
- If confronted with an animal who they feel poses a threat, volunteers are to alert the staff in charge of the clinic. If a bite occurs, it is the volunteer’s responsibility to alert the veterinarian in charge immediately. R-VETS personnel will make arrangements for the volunteer to receive medical care at a local medical clinic. The volunteer will be responsible for any charges incurred. The physician at the local clinic will make recommendations on post exposure rabies prophylaxis and wound treatment.
- Volunteers in foreign countries must realize that medical care comparable to what is customary in the United States may not be readily available. For this reason all volunteers traveling outside the United States are required to purchase evacuation insurance.
- Volunteers are informed that they must read all of the information posted on the R-VETS web site (www.r-vets.org) when they are accepted to a trip. Participation in R-VETS' clinics implies that the volunteer has read and agrees to comply with the above guidelines.
- By participating in an R-VETS clinic, you agree to release Rural Veterinary Experience, Training, and Service, its staff, and the supervising veterinarians from liability for injuries that may occur during the trip or while traveling to the site.
- By participating in an R-VETS clinic, you agree that your photograph may be used by the organization.
Additional Requirements for International Volunteers
Food and Lodging: International Trips
- You may be responsible for your own breakfast & dinner on international trips.
- Lunch is generally provided by the community in which we work.
You will need a current passport. Please check with your physician on required vaccinations.
Volunteers selection are not on a first-come basis. Selections are made to balance experience and skill levels. We welcome newcomers. You should receive an email within a day of submitting your application. Within one month the applications will be processed and you will receive email notification regarding the outcome. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of positions and not all applicants can be accepted. We receive multiple applications for every available student position.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR E-MAIL
It is your responsibility to maintain email contact with us. E-mails are sometimes filtered as spam. Please check your email inbox for an email from R-VETS, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org and any bulk or spam folders. If your email host thinks that R-VETS email is spam, find out if it is possible to un-mark messages from us so you do not miss any important communication. Adding the address email@example.com to your address book may also help avoid bounced messages. Hotmail, Gmail and AOL have all blocked messages in the past. Be sure to check your address book settings to allow messages from us to be received.
Hotmail / Windows Live Mail
It has come to our attention that our emails are being blocked by Hotmail as spam. . .
Please follow the below steps to add R-VETS email and key staff communication email to your "Safe Senders" list. Without doing this, you may miss important communications and may not be accepted to participate as a R-VETS volunteer.
-- Log into your Hotmail account
-- Click on "Options"
-- Under "Junk e-mail", choose "Safe and blocked senders"
-- Click "Safe senders"
-- Under "Sender or domain to mark as safe" type in: gmail.com
-- Click "Add to list >>"
-- Under "Sender or domain to mark as safe" type in: firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com
-- Click "Add to list >>"
IMPORTANT: It is your responsibility to maintain email contact with us. If you do not receive an acknowledgement that your application has been received within 24 hours, please contact us at r-vets.org. We cannot be responsible for missed communications.