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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Student Gains Valuable Clinical Experience On Service Trip

August 15th, 2014
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Service mobile clinic trailer on the road to Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Service mobile clinic trailer on the road to Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

If you look at a map of North Dakota, the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation sits right in the middle of nothing, one hundred miles in any direction from a city.

On the reservation is a small casino, a gas station, a grocery store, a school, and that’s about it. Members of the Turtle Mountain tribes rely on occasional visits from a traveling veterinarian to care for their animals; the veterinarian provides primary care but no surgery.

This gap in veterinary care is bridged by the Humane Society Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS), a non-profit outreach program that brings free veterinary services to underserved rural communities where poverty and geographic isolation leave them without adequate veterinary care. Every year, more than 400 volunteers from across the country help the Humane Society provide this service at no cost to the clients and communities it serves. This summer, one of those volunteers was CVM student Jennifer Kelsey (Class of 2016).

Jennifer Kelsey preps a patient for surgery.

Jennifer Kelsey preps a patient for surgery.

Kelsey was part of a team of veterinarians and veterinary students who landed in Bismark, North Dakota and hit the ground running. They got off the plane, drove to the reservation, and set up the clinic in one night. Then they started receiving clients early the next morning. “We did about fifty spay and neuter surgeries a day for three days,” says Kelsey. “The last day was wellness treatment and we saw about 150 animals.”

Then they packed up, drove 360 miles to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, set up the clinic, and did it all over again.

All RAVS volunteers, including veterinarians and veterinary technicians, are required to take an online training evaluation prior to leaving on the trip. This ensures they are familiar with RAVS clinical protocols and prepared for the job ahead.

In addition, all veterinary student volunteers are required to participate in a practical skills assessment at the start of the clinic. This assessment includes suture patterns, knot tying, anesthesia machine setup and medical record keeping. “If you past the test,” says Kelsey, “you can scrub in and assist with surgeries.”

The RAVS clinic saw lots of dogs with porcupine quills.

The RAVS clinic saw lots of dogs with porcupine quills.

Kelsey passed the test and was able to get plenty operating room experience. She also learned a lot about setting up a mobile clinic. “They were super organized,” she says. “I got lots of good ideas for the upcoming trip to Nicaragua.” As an officer in the OSU International Veterinary Students Association, Kelsey is one of the primary organizers of the club’s annual service trip to Ometepe, Nicaragua.

One of the biggest take-aways from the RAVS experience, is learning to work on a team. “I learned that it was important to hear everyone’s ideas,” she says. “There were so  many people from various backgrounds, and sometimes they had different opinions about a case. I learned that more than one person can be right. This will be good preparation going into third and fourth-year clinical rotations.”

Kelsey recommends the RAVS experience to other veterinary students. “It’s a really good experience in a busy, high stress clinic,” she says. “And it was good for me to meet people from all over the country. I made some great friends, got good advice, and made a lot of good contacts.”


New Veterinarian in Large Animal Hospital

August 14th, 2014



Dr. Richard Steel recently joined the team in the Large Animal Hospital. He earned his DVM from University of Pennsylvania and has been in food animal practice in Tillamook for more than thirty years.

Dr. Steel specializes in advanced reproductive techniques and embryo transfers. He will spend three-quarters of his time on clinics and one-quarter in the classroom.

Greetings From A Veterinary College in South India

August 14th, 2014

A typical morning in the small animal medicine clinic at Karnataka Veterinary, Animal & Fisheries University.

Submitted to Vet Gazette by Hugh Duddy (Class of 2016)

Greetings from south India where Kathryn Gaub (Class of 2017) and I spent July on an externship at the veterinary college in the city of Bangalore. The externship was kindly funded by scholarships provided by Dr Luiz Bermudez and the School of Biomedical Sciences. This pioneering visit to India represents the first exchange of students or faculty in a collaboration that Dr Manoj Pastey is striving to foster between OSU’s college of veterinary medicine and his alma mater in Bangalore where he graduated as a veterinarian in 1988. Dr Pastey is still remembered by faculty for his academic accomplishments, by the way, and, if his vision materializes, we’ll have a “twin” college in India with the opportunity for very interesting and fruitful interaction between students and faculty at both schools.

Bangalore is nestled at the southern tip of the Deccan plateau, more or less where the hills of the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats converge. India is divided into states and Bangalore is in the state of Karnataka. The Arabian Sea lies about 200 miles to the west while the Bay of Bengal lies a similar distance to the east. Despite being firmly in the tropics, Bangalore’s weather is similar to a pleasant summer’s day in Portland. This balmy climate, in contrast to most of India at this time of year, is one of the main reasons the British chose to settle here in the 19th century and, no doubt, the same reason international high-tech companies choose to base their Indian headquarters here nowadays.

The vet college in Bangalore is situated on the campus of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal & Fisheries University. The college is one of 45 or so throughout India, each of which graduates about 60 students each year. In that respect, both of our colleges share similar class sizes. Admission to vet colleges in India is based on an entrance examination with quotas for certain segments of the population, particular castes or remote rural areas for example. As in Britain and other former British colonies, veterinary medicine in India is an undergraduate degree and students graduate after 5 years with a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Science (BVSc). Up to 20% of graduates return for 2 years of postgraduate studies to specialize further in medicine or surgery for example.

Villagers with goat in large animal medicine clinic.

Villagers with goat in
large animal medicine clinic.

One interesting aspect of the Indian curriculum is the prominence of animal husbandry, which reflects the future career of most Indian veterinary students in food production where many clients are poorly educated subsistence farmers. Interestingly, many undergraduate students have never had the opportunity to dissect dogs or cats in anatomy, a bull calf being typically used instead.

For the first three weeks of our externship, we rotated through clinics at the veterinary hospital where students treat the patients under the watchful eye of professors. The hospital charges very little which is one of the main reasons students see a very large case load. For example, major surgery on a dog costs the equivalent of approximately $10, very affordable to many Indians these days. By the time we arrived in the morning, owners were already waiting outside with patients of all shapes and sizes. The hospital sees lots of dogs, mostly pure breeds. German shepherds, rottweilers, pomeranians, labradors, and pugs stand out in my mind. Many seemed to be watch dogs, status symbols, or breeding stock as a source of income. There were very few cats, usually a fluffy, flat-faced Persian. On the large animal side, there might be two or three cows, a few goats and maybe a sheep on a typical day.

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OSU Founding Faculty Member Blazed a Trail For Women Surgeons to Follow

July 31st, 2014
Pam (Wagner) von Matthiessen was one of the founding faculty at OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Pam (Wagner) von Matthiessen was one of the founding faculty at OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Women make up 57% of the student population of U.S. colleges. In veterinary medicine, women hold 78% of the seats, and now outnumber men in veterinary practice.

When Pam Wagner vonMatthiessen graduated from the UC Davis veterinary program in 1976, it was a different story. Women were rare in veterinary medicine, especially large animal medicine. But vonMatthiessen was a lifelong horse lover with a dream of being an equine surgeon, so she didn’t let the prevailing norms stop her.

After receiving her DVM, vonMatthiessen went on to an internship and residency in equine surgery at WSU under the mentorship of Dr. Barrie Grant. “At that time being a woman in any large animal field was a novelty,” she says. “I distinctly remember hearing ranchers coming in and saying to the receptionist ‘Don’t give me one of those female vets’.  I decided to take it as a challenge and see if I couldn’t change their minds.  And it worked!  I found that by being understanding of their reluctance, listening to their story and being compassionate, a lot of prejudice could be overcome.  By the time I left WSU I had a loyal following.”

VonMatthiessen was lucky to have supportive mentors, both at WSU and, later, at OSU and Tufts. “In the academic setting, which at that time was largely male, I do feel women in large animal surgery had to work harder to be taken seriously,” she says. “My mentors, Dr. Barrie Grant, Dr. Michael Shires [OSU Hospital Director] and Dr. Frank Loew always pushed me to be all I could be, to publish and to give lectures and symposiums, and to take on novel research projects that would help me advance academically in the equine field.”

One of those projects was germinated at a Las Vegas convention on human orthopedic surgery. In 1979, vonMatthiessen and Grant had a dinner conversation about Wobbler Disease with human surgeon Dr. George Bagby. He suggested that human medical techniques using spinal decompression might help horses as well.

That conversation blossomed into a collaboration, where Bagby worked with vonMatthiessen and Grant to develop and test spine stabilization techniques in horses that turned out to be very effective in treating Wobblers. “I went on to do my Master’s thesis on the surgical correction of equine cervical spinal cord compression in horses,” says vonMatthiessen. “The technique has come a long way since then.  At first, we used bone dowels taken from the equine hip bone to stabilize the column.  Since then, a basket of steel, now titanium, has been developed.” [See Animal Connection for related story.]

VonMatthiessen went on to become board-certified in equine surgery in 1984. “She was a ground breaker”, says Dr. Jill Parker, current CVM equine surgeon. “When I started my internship in 1983, there was only one woman (Midge Leitch, 1982) who was board-certified and doing equine surgery. It was very helpful to me to see someone doing what I wanted to do.”

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Students, Staff and Faculty Team Up For Warm Springs Tribes

July 30th, 2014

A team from the CVM large animal hospital, including Drs. Mecham, Montilla, and Estill, helped the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs castrate more than a dozen wild horses last week. Fourth-year students and hospital staff assisted. “It was just an amazing experience,” says Liz Harbert, Student Teaching Tech. “It was really interesting to see the traditional method the tribe used to castrate with cotton string. It’s so different from the way we do it with a Henderson tool.”


Top Row: Allison Bonang, Shelby Zehnder, Travis Feldsher, and  Ariel HogelVorst-Rukke. Bottom Row: Dr. Estill, Annamaria Tadlock, Amanda Profita, Jill Ollivant, Dr. Mecham, Serena Mills, Heather McEvoy, Liz Harbert and Dr. Montilla.


New Admissions Coordinator at CVM

July 30th, 2014

TessCollinsTess Collins is the new Admissions Coordinator for the College of Veterinary Medicine. Tess grew up in Idaho, originally living up north in the panhandle and then moving to Boise to complete her undergraduate degree in psychology. She moved to Corvallis three years ago to complete her Masters of Education degree in College Student Services Administration.

Prior to joining us, Tess worked in the Center for Teaching and Learning at OSU, where she was a Program Coordinator and provided graduate students with trainings and professional development opportunities. Tess is thrilled to have an opportunity to work with pre-vet students and to learn more about the admissions process. Tess has a special interest in working with veterinary students as she has been housemates with two current vet students for almost three years!

Outside of work, Tess enjoys outdoor activities such as running, biking, backpacking, hot springing and gardening. She loves to travel and favorite destinations include Thailand, Central America, and around the PNW. Tess has a cat named Emma Noodles and is an aspiring cat lady.