I am sitting in a hotel lobby in Ames, Iowa, this morning, as snow falls outside. Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine is hosting this year’s Student American Veterinary Medical Association (or SAVMA) Symposium. Wet labs, day trips to the zoo or USDA facilities, wine tours, lectures on topics from holistic medicine to proper methods of euthanasia to One Health, and games, presentations, and networking are the focus of this symposium.
I attended a lecture on fixing a turtle’s shell (hint, epoxy and fiberglass are no longer the treatment of choice!), toured the USDA facility in Ames, and competed in the MacGyver Competition with four other students from Missouri. We successfully used a tarp, shoes, a flashlight, feminine pads, a scarf, a flashlight, a magazine, a cap, some sweatpants, and a water bottle to stabilize a horse’s broken leg, pull a downed calf out of a ravine, tend to a hit-by-car dog, and contain a rabid opossum, ultimately winning the competition. (No animals other than vet students were hurt or used in the competition). I also spent several hours wandering around the exhibition hall and conversing with various veterinarians from industry, the Army, the USDA, the board association, and even the founders of the awesome app VitalVet and VetPrep; some of the conversations were just fun and interesting, and some were inspiring and thought-provoking. As I wrap up my study break and head back over to listen to lectures on One Health, holistic veterinary medicine, and exotic diseases, before attending the launch party for an app to inspire vet students to think outside the box, I am glad I decided to miss a few classes to learn more about veterinary medicine from those who practice it every day.
Although wet labs and lectures determined each day’s schedule, what I take away from this conference will not be how to fix a turtle shell (though I do know the theory behind it!) or the awesome architecture and thought that went into the design of the USDA facility. Throughout this weekend, I have met new people and developed better friendships with those I already knew; my passion for veterinary medicine has only been increased, and I am so glad for the opportunity to meet so many interesting and intelligent people who, though they pursue it in different ways, are all working toward the same goal of increased animal health and welfare.