There’s no debating the importance of clinically applied veterinary medicine. Whether it’s our own pet or someone’s close to us, the health of our furry friends is important to our families and communities. One thing I didn’t think about until recently is how research makes its way into the clinics. For example, the development of diagnostics such as the heartworm test is profound. The fact that a few drops of blood and reagent on an ELISA can provide critical details about the prognosis and treatment of an animal is truly awesome. I feel that my current summer research project has been beneficial to my professional development.
I’ve always considered clinical medicine and research to be two completely independent disciplines. From my own experience working in veterinary clinics, it wasn’t always apparent why lab submission requirements were in place. One test might require 2 mL of blood in EDTA, while another required a serum separator. In a general sense, these kinds of details never mattered to me until I had some perspective on the time, energy, and resources that went into developing the protocols.
During the last few weeks I have been working on a summer research project at Tufts, my exposure to lab techniques has given me an invaluable perspective on just how much research has been done to support clinical veterinary medicine. I now consider clinical medicine and research as codependent.
If I may once again, I’d like to offer a word of advice. If you are an aspiring vet, try to get some research experience. I’ve realized that research has helped me ask questions that have pushed me to connect details in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Even if your ultimate goal is to practice in a clinical setting, there will be instances requiring you to speak with lab professionals about the outcome of a diagnostic test, etc. Having some background with lab techniques will make it easier to understand how the test was run and ultimately how to better communicate with your colleagues. This will help you provide your patients with better care in the long run.