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Kat's 4-Year Journey: From Volunteer to Fieldbase Medic

Kat’s experience returning to Raleigh 4 years on as a Medic

Kat volunteered as an Expedition Medic from September to December 2023 in Costa Rica. On Raleigh’s final Expedition of the year, Kat was overseeing medical responsibilities, alongside helping out, and getting stuck in, on different project sites as a Volunteer Manager.

Why did you sign up for a Raleigh Costa Rica Expedition?

I first signed up to Raleigh as a volunteer in Borneo when I was 19. It was a great experience, and I think it’s shaped the rest of how my life has been up to this point. I wanted to give back in part and was inspired by the medics that I’d had on my Expedition.

raleigh volunteers having a group photo

What does the role of an Expedition Medic look like?

My role on Expedition as a medic has been to keep everyone safe and happy. At the beginning, the role included medical one-to-ones with all the volunteers, which included discussing their medical forms that they had submitted into Raleigh International.

I was also in charge of organising the medical kit, and making sure they’re up to date and appropriate for all of the different project sites. A big part of the role was liaising with the teams throughout the projects about any minor medical problems, and helping to arrange any medical trips as they’ve come up. Depending on the situation, these are labelled as either MEDEVACS or CASEVACS.

volunteers practicing as medics

An exciting part of the role is being able to go on project trips. Visiting the different volunteer groups during their phase has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing the different trek groups and checking in on all the guys as they make their way to the beach!

What are some highlights of your Raleigh Expedition second time round?

Definitely seeing the volunteers grow and noticing how they’ve changed; quite a few of them at the beginning were really shy and quiet! As part of my role, I have been able to visit volunteers on different project sites. It’s been really really wonderful to see how they have adapted over the course of each cycle.

Also, being able to go to different parts of Costa Rica has been great. I’ve been able to lead project site visits, checking in on the volunteers and VMs. Visiting the communities, national parks and other beautiful sites has been amazing.

Find out why being a Volunteer Manager will change your life

volunteers hiking on a mountain

How has a Raleigh Expedition helped you personally?

There have been a range of challenges, some of which definitely were expected, some of which have been unexpected, and have had to be dealt with along the way. The medic role can be quite remote a lot of the time, for example there has been a lot of remote telemedicine which has been an interesting challenge. But I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this, and it’s definitely a useful skill that I will take forward in the future.

Being the solo medic on the Expedition has meant that I’ve been able to get to know everyone, volunteers and staff included. I’ve been able to adapt my knowledge of medicine into a completely different environment and learn lots about medicine, as-well as acknowledging my own personal growth too. I’ve also developed an understanding of Expedition management from behind the scenes which has been really interesting to be a part of.

Learn more about how volunteering impacts personal growth

kat with her fellow volunteer hiking on a mountain

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Volunteer Manager Medic?

One of the things I really like about Raleigh is the emphasis on helping the community and the environment in the country. I also love the attitude towards the development of young people, especially knowing that volunteers will leave their Expedition and hopefully make a change for good; in both the world and from within themselves. This has been a great reason to get involved again, and why I’d encourage others to do the same. I also really enjoyed the fact that it’s a three-month Expedition, because it gives you time to really settle into a place and I also think it’s quite a sustainable way to travel – this was something super important to me when I chose Raleigh.

Want to find out more about the role of an Expedition Medic?

Need more information about Expedition?

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Find out all about Raleigh International and Expedition in our helpful information guide.