Learning the Importance of Advocacy in Veterinary Medicine

Contributed by Roxana Bordbar, Class of 2018

In front of the CVMA headquarters in Sacramento, from left to right: Valerie Fenstermaker, Vicky Yang, Elizabeth Malcolm, Grant Miller, Roxana Bordbar, Julie Dobbs, Audrey Buatois, Elizabeth Tenborg, Christina Thompson, Jenny Tsai, Christina DiCaro, Della Yee.

In front of the CVMA headquarters in Sacramento, from left to right: Valerie Fenstermaker, Vicky Yang, Elizabeth Malcolm, Grant Miller, Roxana Bordbar, Julie Dobbs, Audrey Buatois, Elizabeth Tenborg, Christina Thompson, Jenny Tsai, Christina DiCaro, Della Yee.

For many veterinary students at UC Davis, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), may often seem like an enigmatic entity. Everyone knows what the CVMA is, but many are not quite sure what the CVMA actually does behind the scenes. Thus, it was the mission of Elizabeth Malcolm and I to change that, at least for a few students. We wanted to bring students up close and personal to the action—we wanted to show them what the CVMA and organized veterinary medicine really does for the veterinary profession.

It all started in February of 2016, when Elizabeth and I had the life-changing opportunity of attending the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) legislative fly-in as the SAVMA Delegate and CVMA Student Representative, respectively. To sum it up, we flew to Washington D.C. where we were briefed by the AVMA on current legislation important to veterinarians and veterinary students, and we subsequently went to Capitol Hill to advocate and lobby for these positions at the offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Congressman John Garamendi. Let’s just say that it was an incredibly successful trip; we learned so much and we came back invigorated and full of passion for organized veterinary medicine and advocacy! Continue reading

Mongolia Adventures in Research

Contributed by Devin von Stade, Class of 2017

group_Serguleng photo

Members of the research team from left to right: Gar Waterman, Devin von Stade, Samantha Lawton, Emily Iacobucci, Douglas Lally and Devin Byrne. (Photo: Soyolbolod Serguleng)

This summer I realized a dream I had left on the back burner for over a decade: exploring Mongolia with one of my best friends. Inspired by old National Geographic articles and pieces of historical fiction and non-fiction alike, we had declared it the ultimate personal adventure. Having grown up (a little) since then, I briefly considered that my excitement at the prospect was perhaps misplaced, that now as a scientist my idea of adventure no longer applied, but I was so very wrong.

An adventure for me is an unusual experience where I face natural and cultural challenges, where I encounter new animals while camping under a foreign sky—an experience where preconceptions are broken down and questions have to be answered from scratch. This idea is as much entwined with the fantasy of youth as it is with a scientific approach. I went to Mongolia to test a field microscope as part of my summer STAR research project where I was assessing the capabilities of a low-cost digital microscope for veterinary tele-medical applications and preconceptions would only hold me back. Continue reading

Medicine is Medicine, Human or Animal

What Can Veterinary and Human Medicine Students Learn From Each Other?

Contributed by Ceyda Bilgir, Class of 2018

Ceyda Bilgir, Class of 2018

Ceyda Bilgir, Class of 2018

Last week we had a great exercise at veterinary school, where we met with students from the UC Davis School of Medicine and worked on a case that exemplifies the One Health approach. It was a valuable experience due to many, many reasons:

– We had thought-provoking discussions on the human side, veterinary side, public health and government regulations side. At the same time we realized the depth of information we lack individually and professionally in each of these facets.

School of Veterinary Medicine students meet with School of Medicine students during a One Health collaboration session. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis

School of Veterinary Medicine students meet with School of Medicine students during a One Health collaboration session. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis

– We questioned ourselves in what our responsibilities are, and how far we should get involved in the situation vs leave it to other professionals, and pros and cons of each option.

– We are lucky at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to be very One Health oriented; and as a member of the veterinary profession, we are used to the concept of treating the whole patient. It was great to come together with human medicine students and discuss with them about how to go through an interaction with a patient/client and patient and similarities of veterinary medicine to pediatric human medicine.

– We had an emotionally charged case at hand which could have turned really emotional and difficult to deal with very fast. While this was not a priority of our activity today, I can see this being a perfect case for a client simulation lab where one really needs to think about how to handle best. I couldn’t help but think of what I would have done if I was involved in such a case.

– I was able to see mock interviews of human medicine students. They were similar to our client simulation labs, yet at some level so different too.

– It was a great opportunity to learn from each side: We were asked questions about veterinary medicine and schooling, and we learned about the structure of human medicine schools. It was a pleasure to partake in such a curious give and take. It was very honest, very open and very sincere.

Overall it was relieving to see veterinary medicine being taken seriously on the front lines of human medicine. I would like to think we left our fellow human medicine students with some respect in what we do and with more interest and curiosity in a One Health approach.

I certainly was impressed in their eagerness and openness. I am already looking forward to have more lively chats with fellow medical students.

Curious? Learn more here.

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