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

Getting More Hands-On in Second Year

It is already week six for veterinary students here at Texas A&M.

The semester has been filled with so many unique learning moments I thought I would share what it looks like to be a second-year student. This year, our classes are more focused on what it’s like to be a doctor, rather than just lecture-based classes.

For example, we have one class called “Organ Dysfunction” in which we get different cases (based on real hospital cases) each week and work through them with our “team.” We come up with different test and diagnoses for that pet and then discuss as a class why we were or were not right.

I think it is remarkable that as a second year I get to start working through cases that came through the hospital just as if I was in my fourth-year clinical rotations at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Another class in which we get more hands-on time is our anesthesia lab. We learn what each machine does, how to properly place it on the patient, and what it monitors during the anesthesia process.

For this lab, we got to bring our furry friends from home and take a blood pressure reading. We also connected them to an EKG (an electrocardiogram, which is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat), and learned how to read and interpret the information properly.

Taylor’s dog Jameson is a model patient, allowing Taylor to practice taking his blood pressure—using a blood pressure cuff similar to those human doctors use to take your blood pressure—during her anesthesia lab.

Lastly, in our “Professional & Clinical Skills” class, second-year students learn how to properly do CPR using models. Yes, even dogs can get CPR. We learned all about proper hand placement and rhythm, and then we worked in teams through different scenarios in which CPR would be needed.

It was eye-opening to work with different classmates and see how each person handles “high-stress” situations differently. We were able to give each other feedback on what went well and what we could fix. There has been a lot of peer teaching this semester, and although many students may not care for group work, I would say it’s been very helpful because each student sees the situation differently; what one student sees, another may not.

This creates a learning opportunity that is different than just sitting in a lecture-style classroom. It also gives students the chance to work with peers they may not normally work with and to work with a variety of personalities as well. As a second-year student, this semester has been filled with hands-on activities that makes learning really fun.

It also has shown me a preview into some things we may encounter in fourth-year rotations, or even later in life. This small preview has made me super excited for what may come and fuels the passion I have for veterinary medicine. Here is to more adventures to come!

Summer Fun

There’s a quote, attributed to Brian Jackman, that says, “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same.”

Summertime for veterinary students is a time for us to get our hands dirty using the skills we learned over the last year in the areas of veterinary medicine that we are interested in. I used my time this summer to hop a plane and fly halfway around the world to South Africa on a faculty-led study abroad trip for conservation medicine and wildlife management.

Traveling abroad exposes you to new cultures and people. I was amazed to find at one of the ranches we volunteered at that the employees were from many different countries and cultures and spoke so many languages and dialects that they couldn’t even have a full conservation! Yet, somehow, they all work together to perform the very intricate operation of immobilizing, transporting, treating, and handling wild animals.


One of the best parts about exploring other cultures is the food. We were fed many dishes with proteins that are uncommon back home like lamb and a variety of wild antelope species. I’m personally not very adventurous with food, and especially proteins, but all of the dishes were amazing. You have to embrace the experience and at least try it.


The other best part was all of the animals we visited in the zoos; watching them run wild and free over there, without much influence from mankind, creates a whole new connection to nature that I never imagined. Since getting to work hands on with rhinos, lion, sable, roan, and so many more species, I am excited to learn more about our local wildlife and how veterinarians play a role in their management.


I look forward to my next passport stamp, hopefully somewhere tropical. You never know what kind of connections you will make when you travel—maybe you’ll find a way to use skills that you never imagined you might have, or maybe you will discover a new passion or job opportunity.

Remember that you’re not limited to what’s right in front of you; there is a whole world out there waiting for you to explore.