Reports from the Field

Two weeks at the Veterinary Internship in the Cook Islands


After returning home from my stay, I have had some time to reflect. It has been two fantastic weeks filled with challenges, and I am very grateful for all the valuable experiences I now take with me.

The clinic is located next to a beach, and I really enjoyed to be able to wake up and bring my morning coffee on to the beach before beginning the day’s work. The clinic is characterized by all the miscellaneous medicine and instruments and supplies that has been donated and brought by volunteers. It quickly became clear, that some of the information and e.g. lists of needed supplies found on the website is not up to date, and doesn’t really add up to the reality of the site. But I really liked the idea of making the best of what was available, but it was a bit frightening to for example seeing how injectable NSAIDS was quickly disappearing with no apparent way of gaining new supplies.

As a vet, who hasn’t worked in clinical practice, it was a challenge to take on some of the work at the clinic. Sometimes it was quite daunting to do consultations and making decisive actions wasn’t always easy because of my lack of experience. Luckily, I had the other volunteers to lean on, and after the first week, I grew more confident. My goal for my stay was to gain surgical experience, especially with castration and sterilization procedures in cats and dogs. This goal was quickly fulfilled, and at the end of my stay, I felt confident performing surgery on my own. I think it is amazing how fast I was able to feel confident with the procedures, but it sometimes felt quite intimidating to take on tasks that I wasn’t familiar with beforehand.

At the clinic, it is expected that you are able to work independently and that you very quickly are prepared to take on tasks of various character. I travelled to Rarotonga with the idea that I was going to work and I wanted to gain experience with clinical practice, which was fulfilled, and therefore I wasn’t disappointed when sometimes free time was replaced with work. Although we spend some time enjoying the culture and beaches of Rarotonga, many working hours was spent at the clinic taking care of patients along with the general caretaking of the clinic including washing and cleaning of cages etc.

I was surprised of how many dogs and cats that reside on the island. Both owned and stray animals roam freely, and you quickly understand why the idea population control is so important.  Many animals get hit by cars and need long time care at the clinic. But also cases such as fish poisoning and other cases are treated at the clinic all the time, and without the existence of the clinic and volunteers, many of these animals would suffer. Therefore, I think the volunteers at the clinic plays a major role in the matter of animal welfare.  I therefore sincerely hope that the clinic is able to continue in the future, and continue to receive support.

I am so happy that I got to experience the little paradise of Rarotonga with its beautiful waters and nature and fascinating traditions, because I will most likely not be able to travel to polynesia again. What I take with me home, is more confidence and experience with small animal practice which is of great value to me. It wasn’t always easy to stay at the clinic, but I believe that I grew from both the tough situations as well as from the successes that I experienced.

Veterinary Internship in the Cook Islands

Nomad Rating
Project Impact
Extra Activities
Author Bio

Louise Fensholdt