LMU-CVM Students Travel to Costa Rica

LMU-CVM students group photo In Costa Rica

LMU-CVM students in rain forestLincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) students experienced a tropical learning adventure while helping to provide free veterinary care in rural communities, teaching pre-veterinary undergraduate students, and visiting local farms in Costa Rica over the winter break.


LMU-CVM students Emily Willems, Savannah Lynch, Allison Geer, Wade Shipley, and Mary Corella traveled to the La Suerte Biological Field Station December 28 through January 7, where they taught pre-veterinary undergraduate students basic veterinary care and volunteered at a spay and neuter “jungle clinic” under the direction of a local veterinarian, Dr. Mauricio Cambronero Rodríguez. All participants prepared animals for surgery, monitored animals in recovery and observed - and sometimes assisted - in surgeries at the discretion of the veterinarian.  Dr. LaRoy Brandt, associate professor of conservation biology and director of LMU’s Cumberland Mountain Research Center, coordinated the trip and often takes LMU students on educational trips to Costa Rica.


“It was a great learning opportunity for all,” Brandt said. “I was extremely proud of our vet students and the hard work that was accomplished in such a short amount time.”



LMU-CVM students on farm with horse

In addition to the free spay and neuter clinic activities, the schedule included sharing knowledge with other future veterinarians and visiting local farms.  The LMU-CVM group taught basic veterinary medicine courses to 10 American pre-veterinary undergraduate students who were also on the trip. The topics included veterinary anatomy, physical exams, blood work and parasites. LMU-CVM students also provided hands-on lab activities, such as hand ties, placing a catheter in a model, putting on sterile gloves and performing a physical exam.


Willems, a second-year LMU-CVM student, enjoyed mentoring the pre-vet students. “It also was so fun to see them hear an animal’s heartbeat for the first time with a stethoscope,” she said. “For some students, this was their first time working with animals, so being able to share these things with them reminded me of why I chose vet med.”


During the three clinic days, the students assisted in the spay and neuter surgeries of 63 animals and provided additional wellness checks. The remaining days featured farm visits to care for cattle and horses, and even water buffalo, which are better equipped than tractors to handle heavy rain and mud common in the tropical climate. Students also got to hike in the rainforest at La Suerte with Brandt, as well as during a tourist visit to Tortuguero National Park, a protected wilderness area on Costa Rica's northern Caribbean coast.


LMU-CVM students at clinic

“Not only did I get to spend time in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but I got to help this community by using the skills I’ve learned here at school,” Willems said. “It makes you realize how big the world is and how even something as small as holding a spay and neuter clinic for a few days will still benefit the town.”


Lynch, a first-year LMU-CVM student, felt the trip was a one-in-a-lifetime experience.


“I was able to share my passion for veterinary medicine with the undergraduate students and witness them performing skills for the first time. A lot of the time they were skills most students never get to perform in their undergraduate studies,” Lynch said. “My favorite part of this trip was the spay and neuter clinics for the local communities and the fact that the students were able to observe surgery and the preparation process in the rainforest.”


Witnessing vaccinations, ear notching, and pregnancy checks of a herd of Brahman cattle made a big impression on Lynch.


LMU-CVM students at clinic“The farmer and veterinarian let us palpate the cows and we were able to feel the ovaries,” she said. “This was the most amazing experience. This trip was so fulfilling and educational that I wish more students would have been able to experience it and I can't wait to go back.”


Geer said the trip opened her eyes to just how different veterinary medicine is practiced in other parts of the world.


“The standards of medicine are the same, but the financial means of the community made it nearly impossible to put into practice,” Geer said. “It was amazing to see a veterinarian in a poverty-stricken community donate his time, supplies and knowledge to us and the community to make a huge impact. It is truly a life-changing experience, one I will never forget.”


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7150 or visit us online at vetmed.LMUnet.edu.




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