One of the Greatest Educational Experiences of my Life.
Keiya Akiyama (AS, ’18) spent several days volunteering with Vida Volunteer in the Summer of 2015. Vida Volunteer Veterinary Program provides high quality spay and neuter field clinics in Central America in accordance with International Humane Society Guidelines.
Keiya worked two 8-hour days of clinic in Costa Rica and four 8-hours days of clinic in Nicaragua under the direct supervision of licensed bilingual local veterinarians. Before he started, he attended orientation where they reviewed tropical veterinary medicine, role of the veterinarian in Central America, suture techniques, spay and neuter techniques, pharmacology, anatomy, field clinic process, and the scope of large animal working the Vida program.Participants learned about local wildlife, biodiversity, and visited a local wildlife refuge center.
Keiya and other veterinary volunteers participated in the intake station of the field clinics. Volunteers completed thorough physical exams, vital signs, and proper medical record documentation procedures under the direct supervision of a local licensed bilingual veterinarian. He prepared the animal for surgery with the assistance of a local licensed veterinarian by following sedation protocols, anesthesia induction protocols, surgical preparation and intubation protocols. He also got to observe and assist in spay and neuter surgical procedures according to guidelines established for non- veterinary professionals as established by the AVS and AVMA. He also participated in the recovery area of the field clinics where patients were monitored for stable vital signs (Including temperature, RR, HR).
When Keiya participated in the program, he was very excited about being part of such meaningful organization as a volunteer but was nervous about the lack of his skills in terms of assisting veterinarians in foreign countries, especially with the language barrier. However, with the supports from veterinarians at the sites where he was working, he was able to gain one of the greatest educational experiences of his life: “through participating in this program, I was able to find my capability of helping others and to understand how meaningful it is to extend my support to those who are in need.”
Interacting with foreign communities in a very different environment from where he grew up has broadened his horizon as an international civic volunteer. It also gave him more reasons not to give up on his educational goals and strive for his dream to find his own way to help out others in this particular discipline.