Some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in vet school have been through club-sponsored wet labs. This past weekend, in conjunction with USDA veterinarians, I participated in an outbreak scenario at our campus sheep barn with the Veterinary Public Health Organization.
We were able to role play all aspects of a herd outbreak. For our mock outbreak, we functioned as USDA Veterinary Medical Officers. Every part of the outbreak was made as true-to-life as possible. Starting with our arrival at the affected premises, we participated in history-taking from the producer, physical exams, and finally an assessment of our clinical findings to develop a differential list under the supervision of the USDA veterinarians.
Most of our curriculum is focused on our roles as private practitioners. Therefore, it was eye-opening to experience the other side of the coin as a representative of public veterinary practice. Different priorities and different stakes are at play. However, despite the differences, just as with clients and patients that visit a small animal private practice, it is imperative to develop rapport and trust between public health veterinarians and their clients. Such a relationship will help to optimize the outcomes of any herd investigation for all involved parties.
This outbreak scenario demonstrated how truly important, yet often difficult, it can be to navigate competing views in public practice and value the herd’s health over that of the a single individual. It made me truly excited for all the possibilities that veterinary medicine has to offer.