Students Gain More Than Knowledge From India Experience
Throughout their four years at OSU, veterinary students have the opportunity to participate in many externships, from a few days at the Portland Zoo to a few weeks at a local veterinary clinic. One of the most extraordinary externships provided by the CCVM is a month-long stay at the Karnataka Veterinary University (KVU) in Bangalore, India.
This year Donald Gridiron was among a small group of students selected to participate. His externship included hands-on training in internal medicine, obstetrics, and surgery, plus unique learning experiences like working with zoo veterinarians. “The most interesting case I worked on, by far, was a surgery at the Mysore Zoo. We got to observe and assist in removal of a mass from a seven-year-old tiger named Chamundi,” says Gridiron. “We acted as the anesthesiologists, monitored vitals, and collected blood.”
The Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Bangalore is government funded, and services are available at a low cost which makes it a very busy place. This gave the CCVM students a lot of experience in a short amount of time. “I spent just under three years in general practice before entering veterinary school, and saw two or three pyometra surgeries the whole time,” says Gridiron. “On the OB rotation [in India], I observed two or three a day.”
Another difference in the Bangalore teaching hospital: Small animal medicine is provided in one big room with many exam tables, holding a variety of animals, receiving a variety of treatments. “I got to see good examples of practicing medicine with what you have available and not necessarily what is considered the gold standard, and realizing that it still benefits the animal,” says student Sabrina Dean. “This knowledge will be important in future practice, because I will work with clients who cannot afford to do everything I want for a pet.”
Both Gridiron and Dean were actively involved in cases not available to second-year students in the U.S. “I got to assist with a traumatic abdominal hernia repair in a sheep,” says Gridiron. “The guts were literally hanging out . . . it took eight people to properly position the sheep and surgically close the tear in the muscles.”
That kind of hands-on participation is a confidence-builder for students just starting a difficult profession. “I gained confidence in myself by being there,” says Dean. “I really had to break out of my shell, and become responsible for making sure I was engaged and asking for what I needed, which will help me a lot when I start doing clinical work.”
The India Externship Training Program was conceived by Dr. Manoj Pastey, Associate Professor of Virology, to foster collaboration between CCVM and his alma mater. It is financed by the Department of Biomedical Sciences. All the students on the trip gained invaluable experience.
“This trip helped remind me why I love doing what I do,” says Gridiron. “Even though things may be different around the world, people still love their animals just the same, and to me that was the coolest part. By the end of the trip I was really able to understand the importance of a veterinarian in any society.”