Disaster Day 2020: One Health in Practice

Classmate Teresa Martin (3VM) talking with owner while we are working on a patient behind them.

On Friday, Feb. 14, I had an amazing opportunity to use my knowledge from veterinary school to participate in a disaster simulation hosted by the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center.

Disaster Day is an all-day event that brings together students from the Texas A&M Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, as well as the School of Public Health, to work together to solve problems in a disaster scenario that affects humans and animals. It is the nation’s largest student-led interprofessional emergency response simulation.

The simulation took place at Disaster City, which is a mock community that features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage. This area gave us plenty of space to work through animal cases affected by the “disaster” as well as collaborate with the other health professionals.

The “disaster” this year was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Dallas. For our participation, we were split into groups to triage cases (usually stuffed animals as models for our patients) together, with the help of fourth-year veterinary students and veterinarians from the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET).

In many disasters, an increase in zoonotic disease incidence can occur. These are diseases that can pass from animal to human and include infections such as Leptospirosis, Sarcoptes, or ringworm.

As veterinarians, we have the knowledge on zoonotic diseases that some human medical professions may not have, so we can help solve these disease outbreaks. For example, there was one actor who came to us veterinary students to see if her skin lesions were consistent with ringworm because the human doctors were trying to figure out if she got the disease from an animal.

We weren’t able to “treat” her, but we advised the human medical doctors that she could have gotten ringworm from her outdoor cat in the disaster. Cats show no symptoms of ringworm, usually, but the pathogen can be transmitted from cat to human.

This simulation was a great experience to practice one health collaboration to help solve important problems that affect human, animals, and the environment.


Veterinary Students at Disaster Day

Making Connections for My Future

Last weekend, I attended the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Job & Externship fair, and talking with veterinarians from clinics and hospitals across Texas was a blast!

As a second-year veterinary student, it is very important for me to see what is out there and where I can have my future externships. Those in attendance included small animal hospitals, mixed animal hospitals, and corporation practices, so it was a good variety of different types of clinics.

I am interested in small animal medicine, so I talked with small animal emergency hospitals as well as general practice hospitals and even a few small animal clinics that see exotics, which I am also very interested in.

It was so great to be able to talk with people from these clinics in person, so I can get an idea of which have externships during the summer or even for fourth year. It’s so exciting that so many places are willing to host veterinary students to teach and also hire new graduates in the future.

We are so fortunate that there are so many jobs in the veterinary market right now, so there is so much choice when it comes to where we might end up after graduation.

Probably the best part of the fair was getting invited to dinner by one of the clinics I talked to. It was a three-clinic practice in Dallas, which is where I am from. Two of the practice owners hosted a few other veterinary students and me at Napa Flats.

It was a great opportunity to learn more about their practice and what we can do at their externship. We had great conversations about the future of veterinary medicine and they gave us great career advice on how important mentorship is in your first job after graduation.

It is so important for us as veterinary students to make connections with current practicing veterinarians.

These are people who can answer our questions about post-veterinary school life and can give us guidance on how to find jobs. They can also host us for externships and will be great teachers who can influence on how we practice medicine in the real world.

It was such an honor to talk with so many leaders in our field. I can’t wait to get out into clinics this summer, so I can see what I have learned in school and how it translates to the real world.