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Entries in VIDA (1)


“Todo Esta Bien”~ All is well.

Meredith Gumash

Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine


“Todo esta bien” quickly became a Spanish phrase that myself and the 16 other Rossies employed whenever we were feeling like something wasn’t going exactly as planned or when we needed a small reality check to “go with the flow” on our VIDA (Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures) trip this past April.  Feeling too hot and sweaty? Todo esta bien.  Driving on a bus for hours on end? Todo esta bien.  And what was on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day during our two weeks in Central America? Rice and beans. Todo esta bien.  This phrase brought me back to reality and reminded me that well, yes I am feeling hot and am sweating in places that I didn’t know you could sweat but I’m currently spaying a dog and am practicing veterinary medicine. WOW! As in, me- a veterinary student that has never once been allowed to get that close to a surgery let alone be in control of the fate of this creature’s uterus- is currently wielding the spay hook, scissors, sutures, and needle holders to perform the procedure.  It was an incredible experience that I will be forever grateful for.  This phrase reminded me that even though we spent a lot of time on a bus, at least the scenery was beautiful and there was SO much to see.  In Costa Rica there were rolling hills, mountains, birds of every color combination imaginable, and small and large towns that were bustling with people all seemingly going in different directions. And you know what? I don’t really mind rice and beans that much- they were actually delicious and at least we were fed hearty fuel to give us the strength we needed for the clinic days (and for the fun days too when we had the chance to relax a little bit). Todo esta bien.


The 17 of us Rossies along with our VIDA trip leader spent 2 weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua traveling to different sites to set up clinic days for the community members.  We set up our clinics in one home, one school-yard, two different churches, and set up for the one large animal day in a field surrounded by community members’ homes.  One thing that I learned from this trip is that with proper planning, the correct supplies, and a big, open space, you can set up a vet clinic just about anywhere. Todo esta bien.  For each of the five small animal days, we set up three stations: intake, surgery, and recovery.  We worked in pairs and rotated working with each other, which was one of my favorite aspects of the trip.  I had decided to sign up for this trip somewhat on a whim, and not knowing anyone prior to that first night in Costa Rica when we went around and introduced ourselves (with the exception of a tutor I had been to several times). Todo esta bien.  I truly enjoyed getting to know my fellow Rossies on this trip, and learning about their experiences in vet med and and at Ross.  Most of them are in the semester above me, so it was helpful to pick their brains about what to expect in the coming semester.  I had worked in a clinic prior to vet school but was the “poop scooper” and cage cleaner, and did not have much hands-on clinical experience other than what I had taken away from observing.  In that regard I was able to learn from my classmates different tricks of the trade to place difficult IV catheters and give injections to nervous patients.  

In addition to working with my classmates, it was such a great experience to work under the VIDA doctors on both the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan team.  They were extremely patient, especially when it came to the surgeries and allowing us to perform most of the steps, and were excellent teachers.  They were encouraging and instilled a real sense of confidence in me and my abilities- even though I was still learning and was somewhat operating under the “fake it, ‘til you make it” mindset. Todo esta bien.  This trip and the people that I learned from taught me to go for it with confidence and a positive attitude, especially when it comes to the hands-on aspects of vet med, and see what happens.  If it doesn’t work out, you try again but remain confident.  If it does work out, that small victory fuels that confidence for next time.  Todo esta bien.

Experiencing this VIDA trip has been one of the highlights of my vet school career thus far, and probably will remain a highlight as I move forward and begin practicing.  The trip reminded me to be thankful for my own family and friends, and for the luxuries that I have at home that many people around the world do not.  I hope that I am able to return to Costa Rica or Nicaragua as a practicing veterinarian and participate in clinic days such as the one that VIDA hosts.  These clinic days are not only important for population control, but to educate community members on the importance of proper pet care and spaying and neutering their animals.  The experiences in Costa Rica and Nicaragua are ones that I will carry with me as I progress through my veterinary education and into my career, and I hope to continue learning to become a more confident, experienced, and “go with the flow” member of this profession.  Todo esta bien.