RCVS Fellow and Veterinary Expert Shares Her Skills with ITC Thailand

Mary Thompson has been involved with many aspects of the veterinary field during her career and recently took time out of her busy schedule to experience veterinary training in Thailand. Her skills and experience were invaluable to the students on the course as we welcomed her to the team as a volunteer vet…

My volunteering trip with Worldwide Veterinary Service was an opportunity to broaden my horizons and work with an inspiring group of international colleagues. I used my experience and skills to teach, support and reassure veterinary students and recently graduated veterinary surgeons as they developed their practical surgical skills over a two-week period.

The WVS International Training Centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the perfect location for volunteers and course participants to make a difference to animal welfare as part of a team of vets and technicians.

My trip provided a unique insight into living and working in another culture. The importance of teamwork is emphasised when you find yourself in unfamiliar conditions dealing with animals less predictable than those we are used to in the UK. The committed and passionate team of techs and vets at the ITC work together like a well-oiled machine!

Course participants are involved in all aspects of WVS’ work at the ITC. This might include working in the clinic, surgical neutering, monitoring anaesthesia, pain scoring, wound scoring, contributing to discussion on treatment plans and possibly even scrubbing in on more advanced surgeries with one of the experienced veterinary surgeons. The centre staff and experienced veterinary volunteers provide support and close supervision throughout, as well as giving additional talks for participants on subjects such as career paths, antimicrobial resistance and disease control programmes. Working with WVS allows participants to further their clinical skills, enhance moral reasoning and develop their ability to work with uncertainties.

I took advantage of a couple of free days at each end of my trip by sightseeing, tucking in to local culinary delights at Chiang Mai’s food markets and braving my first Thai massage. There was also time for a bit of fun at a WVS karaoke evening. Apologies to anyone who has been permanently scarred by my rendition of Country Roads.

If you are an undergraduate seeking an intense period of mentored practical skills development or a veterinary surgeon wanting to improve your surgical confidence in a supervised environment, a WVS course is an ideal opportunity to develop your veterinary career. This could be particularly beneficial to those who have had limited opportunity to further their practical skills post-graduation, or for those returning to clinical work after a career break.

If, like me, you are an experienced veterinary volunteer, working with WVS provides an opportunity to develop leadership skills and learn about the challenges of providing veterinary care as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a developing country. I realise my karaoke skills will never be on a par with Dr G’s operatic performance, but I really feel I was able to make a difference to animal welfare and contribute to a positive veterinary learning experience for course participants.

What a great veterinary adventure! It has made me view my career and the UK veterinary profession from a totally different perspective. I hope to have the opportunity to volunteer on another WVS trip soon, and am already making plans to meet up with my international WVS teammates!

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