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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

The Art of Being a Healer

October 11th, 2016

Dog being examined by a vet

By Alex Rowell, Psy.D,
Vet Med Wellness Coordinator/CAPS Psychology Resident

As the quarter is now fully underway, I am sure there have been times where you have been thinking to yourself, “how I am going to get all of this done?” or “Am I cut out for this?” This internal dialogue has a way of creeping into those little places in our lives that increase our self-doubt, insecurities, and even the ability to reflect on why you even embarked on the journey of veterinary medicine.

Whether you just began classes a month ago, or cannot wait until June to finish, it is important to remind yourself that the work each of you do is impactful, important, and incredible. Being a professional student is something that very few people understand or can even comprehend. I am sure there have been countless times where you wanted to go out with your family or loved ones but could not because you had a Pharmacology lecture at 8 am, or had to go into lab on a Saturday while everyone else was relaxing.

The word “normal” or “day off” has little meaning to those whose choose to practice the art of being a healer. The word heal means to resolve, repair, remedy and to settle – things that every one of you do – but the true meaning of healing is not measured simply by a test score or a lab result, it is measured by the influence you have on your patients. Whether it is a dog wagging its tail, overwhelmed with excitement to see its owner, or it is a horse going to its final restful sleep, to heal does not mean to cure, it means you have given a small part of your life, knowledge, and practice to an animal and its owner.

Being a healer does not mean you have all the answers and resolutions to remedy the diseases of your patients; being a healer is more than that: it means that you are brave enough to empathize with your patients – both the good and the bad.

I hope you can remember all of this when it is the middle of the night and you have been studying for six hours’ straight; or when you look across at your classmate, can tell they had a rough day and need a shoulder to lean on. I hope you can remember that compassion is essential for your patients, but more importantly for yourself. Self-compassion does not mean you have to ignore your pain or even repress it; it truly means that you meet your own anxiety, depression, and self-doubt with a kind heart. And when that little voice comes in and tries to tell you that you are not good enough, or do not deserve to be here, remember there will be patients in your professional life that will remind you why you chose to practice the art of healing.


Veterinary Teaching Study Published

October 11th, 2016
Dr. Sarah Nemanic observes students testing virtual reality goggles used with a teaching tutorial.

Dr. Sarah Nemanic observes students testing virtual reality goggles used with an anatomy teaching tutorial.

Dr. Sarah Nemanic, assistant professor of radiology, has been working with an OSU team to develop a 3-D ‘virtual reality’ teaching tutorial for veterinary anatomy students (see story).

Concurrently, Dr. Nemanic studied the efficacy of the tutorial, and the results of that study were recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (Vol.43, No.3).

The study assessed the effectiveness of an interactive, computerized, 3D tutorial for teaching the anatomy of the canine larynx and hyoid apparatus using a randomized control design with first-year students. “Teaching the anatomy of the canine larynx and hyoid apparatus is challenging because dissection disassembles and/or damages these structures, making it difficult to understand their three-dimensional (3D) anatomy and spatial interrelationships,” said Nemanic.

Students in the study received the traditional methods of didactic teaching and dissection to learn the anatomy of the canine larynx and hyoid apparatus, after which they were divided into two statistically equal groups, based on their cumulative anatomy test scores from the prior term. One group received the interactive tutorial, while the control group received the same 3D images without the computerized tutorial. Sixty-three students participated in the study, 28 in the tutorial group, and 35 in the control group. Post-learning assessment and survey scores were significantly higher among students in the computerized tutorial group than those in the control group. Students likewise rated their learning experience higher when using the 3D computerized tutorial.

Dr. Nemanic is now seeking funding for the next phase of the project: creating computer stations in the college where students can access and use the virtual reality program.

Magruder Is Mucho Caliente For the Annual Chili Cookoff

October 11th, 2016

chiliMagruder Hall gets hot and spicy on Saturday, October 29th  at the annual Chili Cookoff for Scholarships. This year students and student clubs are competing for nearly $21,000 in scholarship money.

Bring your appetite, taste a variety of traditional and exotic chilis, then vote for your favorites. You can also vote on best theme, as students go all out to decorate their booths and themselves.

All this for only a $5 donation, which gets you voting tickets and as much chili as you can eat (with all the fixin’s). Serving begins three hours before kickoff (exact time TBA).

The CVM Chili Cookoff is sponsored by SCAVMA, Willamette Valley Animal Hospital, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.


Student Research Gets To The Heart Of Things

September 29th, 2016
Rachael Cunningham's 3-D model of a dog heart shows the arteries.

Rachael Cunningham’s 3-D model of a dog heart shows the arteries.

Rachel Cunningham (Class of 2018) worked this summer with Dr. Susanne Stieger-Vanegas creating a 3-D model of canine coronary arteries.

“I looked at a specific congenital abnormality in the coronary arteries of dogs, seen mostly in English Bulldogs, where one of the coronary arteries originates in the wrong place and wraps around the pulmonary artery,” she said.

Cunningham used CT scans from hospital cases, and 3-D modeling software (partially funded by the Camden Endowment) to make the images. She was happy to be assigned this topic for her summer project because she is interested in cardiology. “This is something I really want to know about,” she said.

The project involved a steep learning curve but had several payoffs . “I’ve seen CTs before,” she said, “but not like this. I had to learn how to read CTs in order to produce the models. Now I can identify abnormal CT images of the heart.” She also has a deeper understanding of heart anatomy. “I really understand the three dimensional anatomy of the heart a whole lot better. You can read in a textbook what Tetralogy of Fallot is, but to actually see it is a different thing.”

Cunningham’s favorite part of the project was working with Dr. Stieger-Vanegas. “I really liked having her as a source of knowledge and education.”

Paige Ganster (Class of 2019) also worked with Dr. Stieger-Vanegas this summer. She came to veterinary college with many years’ experience working as a veterinary technician, and felt working in a hospital was not the best use of her summer. “I had no experience in research so this was an opportunity to dip my toes in and see if it is something that interests me.”

Ganster ‘s project also involved using CT scans to create 3-D models, but for a different species. “Prior research has found that there is a higher prevalence of congenital abnormalities in camelids compared to other species,” says Ganster. “I am segmenting the camelid heart to create 3-D models that show those defects.” The case studies used in this project were funded by a grant given to Dr. Stieger-Vanegas by the Northwest Camelid Foundation.

All the models will be used for teaching, and eventually could be used for surgical planning. “Cardiac, 3-D modeling allows us to evaluate complex cardiac structures,” says Dr. Stieger-Vanegas. “We want to produce printable models that can be used to plan interventional procedures.”

Students Get Great Hands-On Experience In Honduras

September 29th, 2016
Third year student Fred Hisaw makes friends with a Roaton native on his service trip to Honduras.

Third year student Fred Hisaw learns about the local Capuchin monkeys on his service trip to Honduras.

Roatan is a stunningly beautiful island off the coast of Honduras. It’s a popular tourist destination, but most of the local population lives in poverty, and the island has a serious stray dog problem. In September, John Maddigan and Dr. Sheri Morris, owners of Willamette Valley Animal Hospital (WVAH), led a service trip to Roatan that included five OSU students and three WVAH staff.

The need for veterinary care in Roatan is so great, the team treated their first patient in the airport parking lot, a dog with Cushings Disease. The airport is a major hang-out spot for Roatan’s large population of stray dogs because kind-hearted tourists feed them there. This was a surprise for OSU student Fred Hisaw (Class of 2018). “As touristy as Roatan is, I had thought that the animals (at least in the tourist-rich areas) would be relatively well cared for, with few strays.”

Local pets also lack veterinary care. On the first night in their accommodations, the Oregon team heard a dog crying and upon investigation, discovered a dog in a neighbor’s garage that had been suffering for days with an extremely painful ear condition. WVAH staff performed a thorough ear cleaning and applied medication and antibiotics. Maddigan messaged: “The owner has since reported our patient hasn’t cried out once. We are treating him daily and hope to have his condition resolved before we depart; so far, so good.”

Dr. Sheri Morris worked in a makeshift surgery with assistance from OSU students.

Dr. Sheri Morris worked in a makeshift surgery with assistance from OSU students.

Day one in the clinic included nine surgeries, ten medicine cases, many vaccinations, and a ton of flea and tick treatments. It was all good experience for Hisaw. “This trip helped me to fine-tune my physical exam skills as every animal that came in got a thorough exam.  There were also numerous opportunities to scrub in and help with surgeries, as either primary or assistant surgeon (depending on skill levels).

Maddigan worked with a local volunteer to set up the clinic. “It was a very engaging and educational experience for us all and really drives home the point that, together, we have the opportunity to create pet health and wellness in more than just our own home town,” he said.





Challenge Course Builds Strength, Teamwork, and Friendships

September 29th, 2016
It took teamwork and problem solving to get that little, yellow ball into the can.

It took teamwork and problem solving to get that little, yellow ball into the can.

Every year the new class of students begins their veterinary college experience with three days of orientation. One whole day is spent on the OSU Challenge Course, participating in team events that help students get ready for the difficult and rewarding years ahead. Here is what the Class of 2020 had to say about it:

  • I learned when presented with unexpected things, we can rely on each other for help, especially when it comes to solving problems. I think the high ropes metaphorically represented our fears and anxieties of starting veterinary school, but in the end we just had to go for it and ‘jump’.
  • I was personally terrified of climbing the poles and doing the challenges. But I found that although I barely knew anybody, they were all willing to support and encourage me to try. It was an incredible feeling knowing this group of strangers wanted me to be successful and were willing to help me get there.
  • The challenge course could be seen as a metaphor for vet school and life as a whole. With so many different minds working on the same challenge, we were able to come up with creative solutions and feel successful.
  • It was crazy to see how much the challenge course is going to relate to our upcoming four years in school. There was one particular moment that really helped me see how it relates: When I was on the catwalk with a fellow classmate that I had just met the day before, she could see how frightened I was, so she began to encourage me to step outside my comfort zone and walk across it. She kept telling me it would be okay the whole time.
  • I could not have succeeded without the help from my classmates.
  • I learned that mind over matter is a powerful mantra that can be used in many aspects of life, whether it be something physical like the challenge course, or something academic.
  • I learned that a strong support system is needed when attempting to do challenging things like climbing across cables thirty feet in the air. Just like the challenge course, vet school will be challenging and we will have to overcome obstacles. It will be the strong support system of our class that helps each of us succeed and make our way through school!