"Learn more than you could ever imagine": Surgical Training with ITC Thailand

Find out about Ben’s highlights from his time with us at ITC Thailand…

G’day! My name is Ben and I am a veterinary student at Charles Sturt University in Australia. I just returned home after completing the awesome two-week Animal Birth Control Surgery Training Course in Northern Thailand.

I heard about this course through some friends at the vet school who had gone in previous years, and came back raving about how great it was. The main reason I wanted to complete this course was because it was a great way to work on my surgical skills as a student and I chose the Thailand ITC because I had never been to Asia, so what better opportunity to mix a bit of work and travel around before and after the course!

WVS has many different programmes around the world to provide veterinary care to communities in regions where it is otherwise unavailable, often with a goal to improve not only the animal health but also the human health in the area. Hang Dong (just outside Chiang Mai) in Thailand is the location of one of these programmes where there is both a permanent veterinary clinic set up to provide free veterinary care to the local community and the International Training Centre (ITC) where vets and students from around the world can come to practise their surgical skills.

I did eight spays, four castrates and monitored 12 anaesthesias over two weeks. Along with a couple of lectures, I felt like I was really helping to contribute to better human and animal health for the region!

I couldn’t fault a single aspect of my time with WVS in Thailand. My highlights of course included the surgical and anaesthetic training. We all had very basic knowledge of desexing surgery and had learnt to administer and monitor anaesthesia but only with the use of a gas anaesthetic machine and extensive monitoring equipment. At the Thailand ITC total intravenous anaesthesia is used and monitoring is done at a very basic level so we all became much more confident in being able to assess depth in a range of patients without relying on expensive equipment – a great skill to have!

All of the staff at the clinic were so friendly and helpful, and whilst sometimes there was a bit of a language barrier, it was fun to try and learn a bit of their language and they seemed to love us making an effort.

I also loved being able to borrow one of the house bikes to ride to and from the clinic; it’s a great way to start the day and see a bit more of the area! The clinic is an old converted house with a pool and a view, it was awesome to finish the day with a dip to cool off. The house we stayed in with the head vet nurse Fon (who was a legend) was great fun as well.

To my fellow vet students thinking about going, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, we all made them (mine was the classic dropped ovarian pedicle everyone fears) and I am so glad that I made mistakes in an environment where someone was there to step in and teach me how to fix them rather than face it alone as a new grad. I’d also advise taking your time with the surgeries! I was without a doubt the slowest surgeon out of the 11 in our group but there’s no competition and by the end you’ll realise that all the surgeries are so different, you might do one spay that takes 45 minutes and the next will take you 90. On another note, do not add extra chilli to any of the lunches, trust me…

But make sure you do yourself a favour and sign up for this course; you will have so much fun, work with a fantastic team and learn more than you could ever imagine. Everyone I know who has done this training with basic university level surgical knowledge and skills walks out way ahead of the pack!

Good luck and have fun!

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