Vet School Veterinary Service

Learn and practice clinical skills at a dog shelter and spend a week volunteering hands-on with rescued elephants - all with a veterinarian to teach your small group!

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This two-week program put you alongside a veterinarian whose job is to teach you so that you get to learn and practice new skills while helping animals in need. Work in a dog shelter and learn clinical skills such as blood draws, suturing, and skin scrapes, including assisting in neuter surgeries. Spend one week living at an elephant sanctuary learning about and caring for rescued elephants.


• Feed, bathe, and care for rescued elephants
• Assist in neuter surgeries
• Learn and practice small animal clinical skills
• Discover what it's like to be a vet in the tropics

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Who It's For

Students age 20 or older who are currently enrolled in veterinary school. Individuals of any nationality may apply. Fluency in English is required.

Applicants should be comfortable working with animals and getting their hands, and everything else, dirty. This program can accommodate a maximum of 12 students per session. There are no pre-requisite classes for this program.

This program is particularly targeted to vet students or vet tech students who have not yet had a lot of hands-on experience. You will be challenged to learn and apply underlying information in the classroom part of the day, and will have a chance to practice clinical skills each day. If you have not yet had experience drawing blood, inserting a catheter, calculating anesthesia, monitoring anesthesia, suturing, participating in neuter surgeries, administering meds, treating wounds, or preparing and examining cytology slides, you will find this immersive program very helpful.


This program is divided into two weeks. In one week, students work with our staff vet to care for dogs at the ARK (Animal Rescue Kingdom) Dog Shelter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Students learn how to assess the dogs' health and do exams, and get hands-on practice providing medical care. The other week is spent at the Elephant Nature Park, providing hands-on care, love, and support for the 65+ elephants who live there. Check a sample itinerary here.

While at ARK (Animal Rescue Kingdom) you will have classroom time with the veterinarian each day to learn about diagnosing and treating dogs in a tropical clinic setting, with particular attention to concerns of shelter medicine. During the week, topics covered will include:

  • Physical Examinations, Neurological Examinations, Musculoskeletal Examinations, Mock History Taking and Mock Physical Examinations
  • Diagnostics: Schirmer Tear Test, Fluorescein Stain, Snap Test, Manual CBC and differential, ear cytology, skin scraping, Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA), fecal flotation. Not only will you practice these skills, but you will practice identifying when and how to use them and making treatment plans based on the results.
  • Learning how to use the following monitoring equipment: Pulse Oximeter, Doppler Blood Pressure Unit, and Isoflurane Anesthetic Machine
  • Learning, reviewing and applying the following skills: Catheter Placement, Endotrachial intubation, IM, IV, and SQ injections, blood draws, vaccine administration, veterinary directional terminology and anatomy, patient preparation for surgery, sterile gloving, calculating and administering drug and fluid doses, and suture patterns
  • Performing a pig heart dissection and suturing lab
  • Assisting in spay and neuter surgeries: Your group will perform at least 4 spay or neuter surgeries, and you will each be actively involved in two of them - one as a surgical assistant to the vet and one as part of the anesthesia team. You will be involved in a hands-on way and participate in the surgery.

    Our Veterinary Service program has a US veterinarian on staff to teach our students.
    Each day will have a lecture-style portion at the clinic and a chance to put the skills learned into practice helping animals in need, culminating in two surgery days at the end of the week.

    Evenings and the weekend in Chiang Mai are free time, where students are on their own to relax or explore at their leisure. There are a huge variety of fun and affordable activities that are easily accessible, from cooking classes to meditation retreats to fun street markets.

    The other week is spent living and volunteering with the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in a specially-tailored volunteer program. Students work with the elephants, helping to feed them, bathe them, cut their food, clean their homes, and provide overall care for them. They will also help with sanctuary upkeep and have the chance to participate in cultural activities.

    In addition, your vet will help you learn about elephant anatomy and physiology, body condition scores, and behavior.

    There will be a chance while at the Elephant Nature Park to learn from the elephant vet on staff, help provide medical care to animals in need, learn to test for various medical conditions in large mammals, and possibly observe surgical procedures in the on-site dog clinic. The dog shelter at ENP provides many opportunities for students to help. They may also have opportunities to shadow the elephant trainer, participate in a diet study, prepare medications, or any number of other things going on at the park.

    Students also have the chance to meet world-renowned conservationist and ENP founder Lek Chailert, learn a bit of Thai, enjoy tubing down the river that runs through the reserve, and get to know some of the elephants on the property one-on-one.

    Either the Elephant Nature Park or the Chiang Mai week may come first in your itinerary.

    Courses and Hours

    You will get to know your vet during the program, and they will get to know you! If you participate to the best of your ability, you will be well-positioned to ask for a recommendation letter at the end of the program.

    This program provides a total of 80 service hours. Loop Abroad is a certifying organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, for which those hours are eligible.

    Loop Abroad can provide you with a pass/fail transcript for the course ""Tropical Shelter Medicine, Management, and Welfare: From Companion Animals to Elephants" at your request. This course is the academic component of your program. If you are seeking credit from your college or university, please contact us for any assistance needed.

    Tuition and Dates

    2017 Dates:* July 29 - August 14.

    Tuition: $3,250 USD not including international airfare. Airfare on the group flight from New York is estimated at $1,700 USD round-trip including taxes and fees.

    Not Included:This program is designed for adults and does not include dinner or evening activities for five nights. It also does not include lunch, dinner, or activities for one Saturday and Sunday. All other meals and activities are scheduled for you and included in tuition. Please see downloadable sample itinerary for details.

    Our Vet School Veterinary Service program is a full adventure on its own, or it can be combined with any of our other Thailand two-week programs, including Thailand 101, Teach to Travel Experience: Thailand, or Wild Tropics, to create a custom four-week program just for you! Programs are arranged back-to-back so that they can be easily joined together. Combining two programs gets you an automatic 10% discount on the tuition for each program, and does not increase your airfare. You can also combine Vet School Veterinary Service with Veterinary Service: South Africa for additional airfare.

    Alternatively, College Veterinary Service can be supplemented with a Bonus Week. By adding the Adventure Bonus Week, Marine Bonus Week, or Elephant Bonus Week to your program, you can customize your three-week adventure to be exactly what you want without increasing your airfare.

    On the Application for Admission, choose "Vet School Veterinary Service" as your program and select all dates that you would be able to attend.

    If you want to combine with another program or add a bonus week, please select that on your application as well. If you have any questions about how to combine programs or add bonus weeks, you can contact us at

    For More Information

    Message us on Facebook, call us at (617) 412-0838, fill out the contact form, or send an email to any time!

    *Dates indicate departure from and return to New York. Some flights depart early in the morning and may require students to arrive in New York the night before. Loop abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all payments will be returned in full.