Case Studies

Learning Curve Toward Service

Veterinary student volunteers gain hands-on appreciation of rural life

Every year since 1975, fifth- and sixth-year students from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Chulalongkorn University have been participating in the Social Development Volunteer Program to gain field experience where they can apply their theoretical knowledge to benefit society.

“The camp provides us with invaluable experience,” says Natthakarn Limvanicharat, who took part in a volunteer camp in Mukdahan province in December 2017 together with lecturers and over 180 fellow veterinary students.

“We were able to talk to villagers, divide our responsibilities within the group, handle livestock and take blood samples, all of which were different from our classwork.”

During the five-day camp, students have a chance to get clinical training, provide treatment, and promote awareness of livestock and pet health and care among small-scale farmers and the general public. They also conduct surveys on animal diseases within the community. These services are invaluable to farmers in remote areas, who often have to wait for a long time for veterinary services to arrive on their doorstep.

“I wish this program happened more often,” says Vilai Faramee, a small-scale farmer. “The livestock clinic is very far away from us, and it’s difficult for villagers to travel there. I would like to have more equipment to help diagnose diseases, so we can find out what our animals are suffering from.”

Given the difficulties they face, many farmers are eager to take advantage of the services that include vaccinations and deworming, as well as advice on disease prevention and various problems regarding their livestock.

“I like the vaccines, deworming and free distribution of minerals,” says another farmer, Areeya Srilamphang, with a smile. “Since they were born, my calves have never been dewormed, and now they have. I would like the group to come back to help us again next year.”

“I appreciate the advice on feeding livestock during the dry season with things that are available within the community such as the raintree, which can be used to prepare feed,” adds Boonlert Wongsai.

The farmers and veterinary students also learn from each other. The students learn about the rural way of life, the cultural heritage and folk wisdom of the communities they visit. Student Suyanee Pradit says she now has a much deeper appreciation of the bond between those who lead a rural lifestyle and their buffalo and cows. “Nowadays, farmers don’t keep buffalo to plough the fields, but more as members of the family.”

Another student, Pornvipha Pornlamfah, adds: “I got so much from this camp. We had hands-on experience from the preparation stage, planning everything with my friends, then actually working with animals during the camp itself, from small to large animals.

“We did lab tests, analysed the tests, and solved the myriad problems that we faced each day, supported by friends, junior students and teachers.”

Gaining work experience in the field and interacting with local farmers and villagers provides a truly invaluable experience that also expands students’ perspectives. Not only are they able to practise the skills they learned in class, but also they gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of their profession toward society.

The experience also broadens students’ social consciousness, which is one of the goals of the veterinary science curriculum. It aims to produce veterinarians who are qualified in terms of knowledge and skills as well as moral integrity and ethics in order to serve society and the country at large.

View the 44th report on the Social Development Volunteer Program, the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Chulalongkorn University, 2018 here.

This article was originally published in CU Around, February 2018, Vol.61, Issue 2, Page 11, available at