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Creating immersive experiences for students extends college’s local and global reach

BE THE MODELTM STRATEGIC PLAN: Outreach and Community Engagement

Classroom learning is a necessary part of every education, but it’s often the time spent outside the classroom that has the most impact on a student. To facilitate global engagement, offer immersive experiences and provide a coordinated resource for students and faculty, the College of Veterinary Medicine recently established the Global Engagement Program.

The program brings together research experience, course work and service learning opportunities to improve the health of animals and people, while promoting positive human-animal interactions throughout our local community, Ohio and around the globe.

Research Experience: Global One Health Initiative, Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the Global One Health Initiative (GOHi) gives students hands-on experience in field research and promotes cross-cultural communication and collaborations. For example, in 2014, a veterinary student designed a method to count dogs in the city of Gondar. A group of veterinary students implemented the project and came up with an estimate of the total dog population to be used by a GOHi rabies control program.

According to Alexandra Medley, DVM MPH, who now works with the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Global Border Health Team, the work she did as a student in the program created a solid foundation for the work she does today as a veterinary epidemiologist. “My work in Ethiopia with GOHi gave me the chance to learn how to collaborate with multiple partners to conduct impactful and lasting global work. The chance to work on various steps of designing studies, trainings and large overseas campaigns enabled me to gain confidence as a scientist.”

Ohio State’s partnerships with universities around the world allow College of Veterinary Medicine students to work in highly interdisciplinary One Health environments. Students work with faculty from multiple disciplines to develop a broader understanding of their research, training or project, and to build their capacity to function beyond siloed solutions.

Course Work: International Studies, Thailand

The Veterinary Field Experience in Thailand, “Elephants, Zoo and Aquatic Medicine,” was started in 2005 by Nongnuch Inpanbutr, DVM, PhD, professor, Department of Veterinary Biosciences. About 24 students per year participate in a two-week program that immerses them in coursework involving elephants, aquatic animals, wildlife and acupuncture. During their time in Thailand, students are exposed to how the religion, culture and social setting influence the practice of veterinary medicine.

Past participant Jennifer Garrett, DVM, highlighted how the experience provided growth in confidence and independence, saying, “Traveling internationally and visiting a country where English is not the primary language challenged me to be responsible for myself and be aware of my surroundings. The veterinary work provided me with much needed hands-on experiences that helped boost my confidence for my final year of veterinary school.”

Immersive coursework allows students to experience a different way of practicing veterinary medicine outside of urban tertiary care, broadening their scope of knowledge and changing the way they approach treatment options.

Service Learning: Faithful Forgotten Best Friends + LifeCare Alliance

International travel isn’t required for immersive experiences that can broaden a student’s horizon. There are several local programs in the greater Columbus community that provide an opportunity to gain new perspectives on providing care for underserved and vulnerable populations of people and their pets. The college has partnered with non-profit organizations LifeCare Alliance, Faithful Forgotten Best Friends (FFBF) and five other community organizations to provide wellness and basic veterinary care for the pets of elderly, homebound, homeless, low-income and other vulnerable residents in Franklin County.

Working with these community partners, the Veterinary Medicine Outreach Program provides a unique service-learning opportunity for veterinary students by enabling them to provide veterinary care to underserved animals. Community practice and shelter rotations are an integral part of the fourth-year curriculum for students to gain valuable hands-on medical and surgical experience needed to become competent and confident veterinary practitioners.

Alesha M. Glass, a fourth-year veterinary student who participated in the FFBF program can’t imagine practicing veterinary medicine upon graduating without having it involve a way to give back to the community. “Outreach medicine provided me a new way to think about how to provide care for animals because of the limited amount of resources and funding. Because of this outreach experience, I plan on giving back to my community as a practicing veterinarian,” she says.

The College of Veterinary Medicine continues to identify and foster interdisciplinary collaboration to educate students and improve the health of animals, people and the environment through the expansion of these global engagement opportunities, as well as offering support for students who are interested in participating in the programs.

The College of Veterinary Medicine's Be The ModelTM Strategic Plan outlines the college's ambition to Be the Model comprehensive college of veterinary medicine in the world. Our extensive global engagement programs are just one example of how we are meeting our outreach and engagement goal. Learn more about the strategic plan and other advances at the college.

Last updated: 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 1:08pm