Wadima AlDhaheri is a veterinary student from the United Arab Emirates who recently took part in a WVS surgical training centre in Ooty, India. Here’s how she got on!
I’ve been following the WVS Instagram page since I was a second-year vet student and I remember checking their website and seeing that they were looking for 4th year students for their programmes. I eagerly waited until I reached the 4th year and applied. Luckily, I got accepted to join the surgical training course in Ooty, India, so off I went!
I remember walking through the airport with feelings of excitement and no clue about what to expect but whatever it was going to be, challenge accepted! Once I reached the ITC, the day began with an introductory lecture and that’s where I first met the most amazing future vets, inspiring veterinary surgeons and incredible animal handlers.
The project involved the sterilisation of free-roaming dogs in Ooty and was a good opportunity for me to improve my surgical skills. It included sedation, anaesthesia monitoring, catheterisation, castration and spaying, post-operative check-ups and administering rabies vaccinations.
The second day is where I got to do my first castration on a beautiful brown stray dog and my first spay on a pregnant bitch. It was just remarkable how we were taught in the most polite and professional way with so much patience. The following days, we followed the same routine which was performing two surgeries and two anaesthesia monitoring in pairs, except on Saturday which took an adventurous turn where we went out and vaccinated free-roaming dogs against rabies with the help of amazing dog catchers and their mighty nets.
After the surgeries we usually had two-hour lectures on various topics and the day would end with the evening rounds which were carried out around 7:15 PM. I performed sterilization surgeries with a vet’s supervision and was involved in the operations or monitoring of 16 patients during my time at ITC India. My highlight of the trip however would definitely have to be the vaccination day where we got the chance to visit certain villages in Ooty and vaccinate the free-roaming and owned dogs and interact with the local people. Also, we got to see other animals such as donkeys and much more fascinating was the sighting of an Asian elephant!!
Ooty is just awesome! It can’t be described in just one word as it is beyond beautiful. The location of the ITC was perfect, surrounded by lots of greenery and I enjoyed exploring its stunning hidden gems by visiting the Botanical Gardens and taking a ride in the toy train on our day off. Thereafter, we resumed the rest of the week with two sterilisation surgeries and two anaesthesia monitoring while in the evening we discussed and had lectures on topics such as analgesia and wound management. On our last day, WVS arranged a fun dinner in which we preformed our song “Intradermals, they are the pain of our lives” (thanks to Hannah and Becca for the creative lyrics!) and the staff showed us some interesting Indian dance moves. Even on our last day, we were expected to be at our best and perform our last surgery to as high a standard as possible. We were still learning throughout the course and were just as eager as the day we arrived.
The patient that I will always remember from my time at the ITC was a cryptochid dog. The case particularly stood out because the veterinary surgeon, Dr Chahat, found the cryptochid testicle in just a matter of seconds and it was one of the moments where I said to myself: Wow, I can’t wait to be able to be that confident and do that!
My time at the ITC was such a full and hands-on experience! We were able to carry out each procedure from A to Z and the sense of responsibility was real, which really helped me grow in confidence and develop my key skills. I learnt that skills can only be developed if practised and taken good care of and I’ve also learnt that I should always have patience, as frustration won’t get anyone anywhere, but we can take that frustration and turn it into satisfaction by working really hard and accepting any challenge.
I would definitely return to India with WVS! I am also considering joining the equine training course in Ooty next year once I am done with my large animal clinical training. I have already recommended the course to all my friends and two of them are hopefully going in July to the Goa and Thailand ITCs to take part in a surgical training programme.
I can’t thank WVS enough for being an outstanding part of my learning journey. I truly admire the way WVS is organised and what it offers for the world as a charity. I joined this programme with a goal and that goal is to achieve what WVS has achieved in Ooty, India. As an Emiratee pioneer vet student I wish to control the stray cat population in the UAE by implementing the simple though efficient methods of WVS in controlling the stray animal population. I hope all the knowledge that I received at the ITC in India will be put into making a change in the UAE.