PVM Office of International Programs Delivers Global Impact

Nine veterinary technology students participated in the Veterinary Technology Program’s first study abroad trip to Guatemala in June. Back row (left - right):  ARCAS veterinarian Alejandro Morales; Rebecca Hoffman, VT ’19; Christy Wolf, VT ’18; Sierra Church, VT ’18; Hannah Chalmers, VT ’18; Veterinary Technology Program Instructional Technologist Julie Roahrig, RVT; and ARCAS veterinarian Fernando Martinez. Front row (left - right): Marleso, a senior veterinary student from Guatemala, with Beth Hinshaw, VT ’18; Amanda Gillespie, VT ’18; Katie Roberts, VT ’18; Molly Roberts, VT ’18; and Taylor Seufert, VT ’18.

Nine veterinary technology students participated in the Veterinary Technology Program's first study abroad trip to Guatemala in June. Back row (left - right): ARCAS veterinarian Alejandro Morales; Rebecca Hoffman, VT '19; Christy Wolf, VT '18; Sierra Church, VT '18; Hannah Chalmers, VT '18; Veterinary Technology Program Instructional Technologist Julie Roahrig, RVT; and ARCAS veterinarian Fernando Martinez. Front row (left - right): Marleso, a senior veterinary student from Guatemala, with Beth Hinshaw, VT '18; Amanda Gillespie, VT '18; Katie Roberts, VT '18; Molly Roberts, VT '18; and Taylor Seufert, VT '18.

Students in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine are increasingly traveling the world and learning about global veterinary medicine. Purdue Veterinary Medicine's Office of International Programs (IP) offers three types of study abroad opportunities and students are taking full advantage. PVM faculty-led programs, exchange programs and independent externships have enabled students to travel to six continents and visit 35 countries in the past five years alone.  Their destinations have included: Australia, Austria, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Grand Cayman, Haiti, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and the UK.

Opportunities to study abroad are attracting both DVM and Veterinary Technology students. In the DVM Class of 2016, 45 percent of the class members studied abroad at some point during their academic career. This year also marked the Veterinary Technology Program's first study abroad trip, during which nine students traveled with PVM Instructional Technologist Julie Roahrig, RVT, to Guatemala.  During the 2016-2017 academic year, 60 students are participating in international learning experiences. PVM Director of International Programs Will Smith II said students are coming back from these experiences with the skills to engage and impact the international community, the understanding of social responsibility on a global scale, and knowledge of global issues. By studying abroad, PVM students develop respect for diverse people and cultures and an understanding of the skills required for working across cultures. Will also explained that veterinary students are exposed to international issues that impact the profession and the role that veterinarians play in global education and global health.

A case in point involves Taylor Culver, of the DVM Class of 2018, who traveled to Nepal during the summer of 2016 and spent time working in a mobile veterinary hospital. “Many dogs came into the clinic each week with broken legs,” Taylor said. “Some got pins put in and others got casts. Usually the reason given for the dogs breaking their legs was falling down steps! Traumatic wounds were seen often in the clinic since most dogs live outside.” She further explained, “Rickets was common in puppies due to a lack of proper diet (calcium deficiency). Most people just feed rice and scraps from the table since dog food is expensive and hard to buy in Nepal. The German shepherd was the most common dog seen by the clinic followed by the Japanese Spitz.”

Taylor Culver, of the DVM Class of 2018, cared for a parvo puppy at a clinic in Nepal. Parvo was often seen due to lack of vaccinating. Also, there was no isolation of contagious disease at the clinic simply because of a lack of resources to do so.

Taylor Culver, of the DVM Class of 2018, cared for a parvo puppy at a clinic in Nepal. Parvo was often seen due to lack of vaccinating. Also, there was no isolation of contagious disease at the clinic simply because of a lack of resources to do so.

Taylor Smith, of the DVM Class of 2018, treats an elephant in Kenya.

Taylor Smith, of the DVM Class of 2018, treats an elephant in Kenya.

Taylor Smith, also of the DVM Class of 2018, traveled to Kenya during the same summer and treated lions and elephants. When asked if she would recommend traveling to Kenya to other students, she said, “YES! Not only will this trip benefit students in learning different aspects of veterinary medicine, it will change their entire outlook on life. After spending a month in a third-world country, you appreciate everything you have here.” Practicing in a different culture and country has shown both students the different challenges confronting the veterinary medical profession around the world.

Students are also greatly impacted by the people they meet during their trips. “Many of the friends I made in Nepal have asked if I will be back. I hope to be back one day to do more trekking in the Everest region! The thing I will remember most about Nepal is definitely the kindness of the Nepali people and their tight-knit community,” Taylor Culver said. Taylor Smith remembers being amazed by the kindness of the Kenyan people she met. “Every single person that I met in Kenya was so kind and amazing. Everyone there becomes your family and it is hard to leave such a beautiful, loving country,” she explained. “There is no better place in the world to experience wildlife medicine than in Kenya. Being a part of the antipoaching and wildlife conservation efforts of the Kenya Wildlife Service is a huge honor. You cannot leave Kenya the same person you were when you came.”

Veterinary technology students visit the Tikal Mayan Ruins to learn about the Mayan civilization and culture during their study abroad trip to Guatemala.

Veterinary technology students visit the Tikal Mayan Ruins to learn about the Mayan civilization and culture during their study abroad trip to Guatemala.

The Veterinary Technology Program study abroad experience enabled Purdue Veterinary Technology students to spend two weeks in the Guatemalan jungle in June at ARCAS-Petén, a wildlife rehabilitation center that serves animals primarily confiscated from illegal wildlife trafficking.  The students worked with the attending veterinarians on multiple species, including macaws and other types of parrots, howler and spider monkeys, crocodiles, toucans, pecarry, agoutis and pacas.  They also attended lectures, performed animal husbandry and participated in hands-on labs.  An additional feature of the trip involved taking an overnight excursion to the Tikal Mayan Ruins to learn about the Mayan civilization and culture.

Not only does the IP Office help PVM students obtain learning experiences around the world, it also provides students from partner universities the opportunity to come to Purdue. One exchange program, with the Kitasato University School of Veterinary Medicine in Japan, brings several Japanese veterinary students to Purdue for two weeks in the summer to gain first-hand exposure to clinical training in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, one PVM faculty member is also invited to give lectures, presentations and seminars at Kitasato's Towada campus in Japan each year. According to Will Smith, partnerships like this provide incredible opportunities to both universities.

The IP Office also works to help students make the most of their international experience in a variety of ways, including through the International Veterinary Certificate Program. Completed before, during and after a study abroad experience, this program aims to give students a better understanding of international veterinary medicine and to prepare them beforehand to engage with the culture they plan to enter. The certificate program provides the students with information about all of the available study abroad options; scholarship opportunities and how to make their applications stand out; safety and health tips for traveling; global approaches to veterinary medicine; and how to maximize the benefit of a study abroad experience after they return. As Will explained, the PVM Office of International Programs is working hard to provide students with a variety of opportunities to expand their intercultural knowledge and to learn about veterinary medical practice in settings outside of the United States, while also giving them the tools to use their knowledge to make a global impact.


This story is part of the 2016 Annual PVM Report.

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