HSVMA Brings Continuing Education to Veterinarians in El Salvador

February 7, 2011

by Susan Monger, DVM

It is difficult for many of us to grasp the challenges that veterinarians in other countries face. They often operate with only a fraction of the equipment, supplies and resources that are routinely available to veterinarians in the United States, yet their desire to provide optimal care for their patients serves as a constant impetus to improve.

Dr. Molina addresses class
Dr. Claudia Molina speaks to the class participants and HSVMA-RAVS volunteers at the end of the first continuing education course in El Salvador.

Dr. Claudia Molina, a veterinarian from San Salvador, is a shining example of this. More than five years ago, she participated in an HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) clinic in remote Parque El Imposible, tucked away in the mountains of El Salvador. At that time, the El Salvador native had recognized that her school’s veterinary training was lacking in certain areas and asked if we would come to the University of San Salvador to help.

A few years later, after overcoming some logistical hurdles, HSVMA-RAVS returned to El Salvador and began an intensive anesthesia and surgery training program at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The program has been an unqualified success, with students vying for the limited number of slots available and eager to learn from the team of dedicated volunteers who teach physical exam skills, drug and fluid calculations, anesthetic monitoring and surgical techniques.

A calling to do better

Given the success of the program at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Molina—always dedicated to increasing the level of education and skill in Salvadoran veterinarians—recently asked if we would expand our teaching to local veterinarians who had graduated prior to the inception of our program. She organized a group of local veterinarians, and in November of 2010, we conducted the first continuing education course for Salvadoran veterinarians.

At the end of the week, Dr. Molina spoke a few words to the class and the HSVMA-RAVS volunteers. To paraphrase, she said, “We are the change and by the work this week, we can see how important it is to practice good, basic care and have good habits that are neither costly nor hard to establish. It is about a commitment to the profession, seeing within ourselves the desire to do better for the animals. We have a duty not to let them suffer. We have a duty to treat each and every animal as an individual. These animals feel pain just like we do and as veterinarians, it is our duty not to let them suffer. This profession is almost like a calling to do better, to keep learning and studying, and not to be satisfied with mediocre, or even worse, practice poor technique.”

We can all learn something from Dr. Molina, a veterinarian who works tirelessly to improve her skills and provide the best possible care for her patients, all for a fraction of what most in her profession earn. Her devotion to veterinary medicine is worth much more than anyone can put a price tag on.

Dr. Susan Monger is the Director of HSVMA-RAVS, International Program.