Instructor: Dr. Brian Whitlock
Authored by Dr. Lisa Fall, Associate Professor of Advertising and Public Relations and Noah Mayhew, Senior in Public Relations
Specialists are so important when it comes to keeping the world balanced. We seek legal counsel when we need advice about the law. We seek financial guidance about our money issues. We seek medical assistance from a doctor when we are sick. And, of course, when we have a sick animal, we turn to our animal experts – the veterinarians. But, have you ever thought about how these medical professionals receive their training?
Here at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UT CVM), the Field Services section within the Veterinary Medical Center is one important component in the development of students as leaders and responsible citizens – and as our future veterinarians. By virtue of the “on the farm” nature of the services provided, students gain first-hand knowledge of the issues and problems facing animal agriculture as well as the importance of agriculture in providing safe products to the public. Students gain an appreciation for how their expertise and the decisions that they make are integral parts of the success of these operations. They learn to work with the clients in solving problems.
“Veterinary medicine is a service-based profession. Therefore, every course at our College, from the very basic courses to the clinical curriculum, needs to have some service component. The Field Services course (VMD 893), which serves both farm animals and horses, provides students enrolled in their fourth year of the UT CVM curriculum with an opportunity to apply the knowledge they have acquired up to that point. It also allows them to improve their psycho-motor skills and helps ensure that they are clinically competent in certain areas before they become a veterinarian,” explained Dr. Brian Whitlock, coordinator of the program.
The students participate in herd health visits with other faculty and staff associated with the course. This is equivalent to a wellness exam for the herd or stable and often involves determining animal pregnancy status and reproductive soundness, minor on the farm surgeries, administration of vaccines, and screening of the herd and individual animals for infectious diseases known to severely impact performance and production. Students are involved in every aspect of these herd health visits,” Dr. Whitlock explained. “At the end of the farm visits the students are responsible for communicating back to the clients. Our goal is for students, farmers, and horse owners, to see what constitutes a healthy animal and good herd wellness.”
“We believe Field Services closely mirrors the experience students will have in large animal medicine once they graduate and join the workforce. Without the opportunity to help provide a clinical service to farmers, horse owners, and their animals in our region, students would be ill-equipped to become practicing veterinarians at the end of the four year curriculum.”