Category Archives: Careers in Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medicine in the Land of Smiles

Contributed by Sarah Tirrell, Class of 2018

Sharing a meal with Thai veterinary students and doctors

Sharing a meal with Thai veterinary students and doctors

This summer I returned to one of my favorite places in the world – Thailand, the land of smiles. My goal is to practice veterinary medicine in Thailand, so I was extremely excited to participate in a veterinary externship at Chulalongkorn University’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. I was not disappointed by my experience; I was able to expand my knowledge of veterinary medicine, practice some clinical skills, explore the differences between veterinary medicine practices in Thailand and in the United States, and make some new friends.

During my externship, I was able to assist the hospital’s veterinarians in four different specialties. I spent 3 days a week in General Medicine with Dr. Kaew giving various injections, restraining patients, drawing blood, running some blood tests, and practicing other clinical tasks. Since she spoke fluent English, I was also able to discuss cases with her and ask questions about veterinary education and practice in Thailand. Through these conversations I was able to learn about disease patterns in Bangkok, how Thai culture affects the standard of care, and how Thai veterinary school differs from America. One of the most interesting things I learned was that during the four years that Dr. Kaew has been practicing, she has only euthanized three patients. Palliative care is a major focus of Thai veterinary medicine and euthanasia is usually only performed in extreme trauma cases. Continue reading

Making a Difference in Chile

Contributed by Marlene Belmar, Class of 2018

Photos courtesy of Dr. Gerardo Acosta

Marlene Belmar in Chile

Marlene Belmar in Chile

My life long career goal within veterinary medicine is to specialize in epidemiology and apply my knowledge and skills towards a better understanding of zoonotic diseases. This past summer, I had a wonderful opportunity to go to Chile to participate in a research project entitled “Control and Prevention of Hydatidosis/Echinococcosis in the communes of Punitaqui, Monte Patria and Combarbalá within the province of Limarí in the region of Coquimbo,” under the mentorship of Dr. Gerardo Acosta-Jamett.

Hydatidosis is a zoonotic disease of high public health concern within Chile, where dogs are the intermediate host and herbivores and humans are the definitive host. Studies evaluating risk factors associated with the presence of E. granulosus in dog feces have only been initiated recently. Having the opportunity to participate in a project that is striving to improve the lives of people and animals in underserved areas of Chile sparked all of my interests. Continue reading

One Health Research in Mongolia

Contributed by Samantha Lawton, Class of 2017

Sam Lawton, Class of 2017 with a lamb in Mongolia. (Photo: Soyolbolod Serguleng)

Sam Lawton, Class of 2017 with a lamb in Mongolia. (Photo: Soyolbolod Serguleng)

Sain baina uu (that is Hello in Mongolian)! During June and July of 2015 I had the fantastic opportunity to travel to Mongolia for five weeks in order to complete a STAR project (Students Training in Advanced Research). My project was assessing the prevalence and distribution of intestinal parasites in small ruminants and dogs. Mongolia was an excellent place to conduct this research because people, their livestock and their dogs interact closely and many people are reliant on animals for food and fiber. Therefore, intestinal parasites, and targeted strategies to reduce parasites, could have impacts on animal health, economic health and even human health in the case of some intestinal parasites, like Echinococcus, where humans can be infected if they consume parasite eggs shed in dog feces.

In the field, collecting samples. (Photo: Soyolbolod Serguleng)

In the field, collecting samples. (Photo: Soyolbolod Serguleng)

A friend/previous mentor connected me with this project when I approached her about opportunities to experience fieldwork. I wanted to gain fieldwork experience because I have always thought that field research was something I might like to do in my future but only had short experiences. This summer did confirm that I really do love international fieldwork and I want to incorporate it into my career. Continue reading

The Value of Interning at the National Institutes of Health

Steven Hsu, Class of 2018, spent eight weeks this past summer as an intern with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. I spent a little time chatting with him about his experiences and his path to veterinary medicine.

Steven Hsu, Class of 2018, admits to "geeking out" over nifty slides.

Steven Hsu, Class of 2018, admits to “geeking out” over nifty slides.

How did you decide on a career in veterinary medicine? Did you have a bunch of animals growing up?

I love animals, but I didn’t have any while I was a kid. I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and when we moved to the U.S., we lived in a city in Southern California. But in high school, I was really interested in medicine and figured veterinary medicine would be an easy way to merge my love for animals with an interest in medicine. I also volunteered at a local shelter during high school in Rancho Cucamonga—that helped solidify my career choice.

How did you hear about the internship opportunity at NIH?

One of my instructors, Professor Kevin Woolard recommended it. He taught numerous class pertaining to pathology, which I really enjoyed. If memory serves me right, he did his DVM and Ph.D. at North Carolina State, and did his post-doc at NIH.

What were some of the highlights of your visit/internship?

The directors, Drs. Mark Simpson and Charles Halsey, took our group of six veterinary students across Maryland on field trips—to the FDA, and different laboratory animal facilities around the Bethesda campus. We visited laboratories that studied frogs, zebra fish, primates, and of course, rodent facilities. It was my first time out east—my first time traveling past Texas actually. I met five other veterinary students from across the nation and Canada and it was interesting to see how different and yet similar we are—there was a lot of diversity among our backgrounds and interests. I learned I didn’t want to just focus on diagnostic applications of vet med. Those field trips were really helpful in seeing various careers and choosing what I’d like to do and what not to do. Even though I was sure about a career in veterinary pathology, I didn’t realize the variety of career choices within the field and the value of mentors to help guide me through the process.

Steven Hsu, on far upper right, spent eight weeks over the summer with this group of fellow veterinary students from across the US and Canada.

Steven Hsu, on far upper right, spent eight weeks over the summer with this group of fellow veterinary students from across the US and Canada.

Continue reading

Thinking Outside-the-box Proves Valuable to Fieldwork

Roxann with lambFormer VSTP Pfizer Fellow Roxann Brooks Motroni on thinking outside-the-box for career options and appreciating California’s cattle ranchers

Roxann Brooks Motroni – a Veterinary Scientist Training Program (VSTP) Pfizer Fellow – holds a PhD in Comparative Pathology (2012) and a DVM (2013) from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She was an important part of the team working on developing a vaccine to prevent foothill abortion in cattle under Professor Jeff Stott.  She sat down with us by phone recently to share her experiences at the school during a pivotal time for the foothill abortion vaccine and what she is doing now as an AAAS Fellow for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC.

Tell me a little about your background. What got you interested in veterinary medicine?Like every other veterinary student, I wanted to be a vet since I was three and never thought of anything else. I’m originally from Virginia. At 16, the state of Virginia offered a ‘Governor’s School of Agriculture’ at Virginia Tech that gave me the opportunity to work in a research lab. Through participating in this program I realized I really liked research. It was my first time thinking outside-the-box about my career choices and I pursued every research experience I could. I ended up with a full scholarship to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where I studied biology. This was the time when West Nile Virus entered the U.S., and it got me thinking about infectious diseases and the wildlife-livestock interface. For example, how wildlife management protects livestock and how cattle can graze without effecting wildlife.  Continue reading