Volunteering as a veterinarian at the Roof of the World

by Wilson D
31 Jul 2019

He is good to have around,” says Sachin Regmi, a student at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Chitwan, Nepal.

Sachin is talking about Douglas Wilson, an Australian volunteer who is currently working as a Veterinary Clinician, Planning and Development Officer for Nepal’s Agriculture Forestry University, as part of the Australian Volunteers Program.

After decades working across Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, Douglas is now sharing this experience to enhance the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s veterinary practices and facilities, and connect Nepalese students with international veterinary techniques and trends

“I realised that I had accumulated heaps of experience during my years working as a vet and was keen to share these with others who have not had the same opportunities as me,” says Douglas.

Douglas arrived in Chitwan in August 2018 and was the first Australian volunteer to be placed in this district. Located in regional Nepal, Chitwan is home to the country’s first ever National Park, a sanctuary for local species of crocodile, rhinoceros, tiger and abundant birdlife, as well as a thriving poultry industry.

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital supports the local poultry industry through the diagnosis and treatment of disease in local flocks, as well as buffalo, cattle, goats and dogs. However, due to a lack of sufficient equipment and facilities, it is not always possible for faculty staff and students to provide a satisfactory level of veterinary diagnosis and treatment.

Douglas is working with students and teaching staff to help them to overcome these challenges. He is taking practical steps, such as providing training in the use of ultrasonography, haematology and electrocardiography diagnostic equipment and developing manuals.

His focus is on building the capacity and confidence of his colleagues so they will continue to use the equipment long after his assignment has been completed.

Veterinary students in this region do not always have access to the same level of resources as their Australian counterparts. “It would be incredible if these students could have access to the same free or low cost eLearning resources that are available in Australia,” says Douglas.

To help connect students with international veterinary practices and trends, Douglas is developing a database of learning resources. This database aims to connect students to training tools that are readily available online to further develop their practical experience and extend their learning.

“The students are enthusiastic and keen to learn but recognise that they need more practical experiences,” says Douglas.

As seen by Sachin’s modest recommendation, the students have taken a shine to their Australian mentor and have responded to his efforts with energy and enthusiasm. With only a few months to go on his twelve-month assignment, Douglas is hoping to leave a lasting legacy with the students and teaching staff at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The Chitwan community has also left a strong impression on Douglas. He has been warmly welcomed by families in the area, who have generously opened their doors to their new neighbour and poured him many a cup of warm chai.

The Australian Volunteers Program is an Australian Government initiative that supports skilled volunteers in 26 countries as part of Australia’s aid program. For more information about the Australian Volunteers Program, or to learn more about how to become a volunteer veterinarian, visit australianvolunteers.com.





This article originally appeared in the July 2019 Australian Veterinary Journal.

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