This summer I traveled to Madrid, Spain to join the veterinary students at Complutense de Madrid in their clinical rotations. I had such an amazing time working with the students and clinicians in the equine hospital, small animal gastrointestinal and oncology service and also with the large animal veterinarians outside of the hospital.
For two months, I was able to work with the veterinarians in Spain, everyday speaking Spanish and working through medical cases or visiting farms to care for the animals. Through this opportunity, my level of Spanish has improved immensely while I have simultaneously gained more experience working with dairy cattle, feedlots, beef cattle, horses and small animal specialists.
This unique experience allowed me to notice some differences between veterinary medicine in the US and in Spain. During one farm call, I assisted the vet in breeding a horse that I noticed was markedly round and heavily conditioned. It wasn’t until later that I realized these horses were being raised for meat. Working in the US all my life I never considered this purpose for breeding horses, but horse meat is a delicacy in Spain and a part of their culture and cuisine.
On another trip outside the hospital, I had the opportunity to travel with a Merck representative to a feedlot where the farmers were implementing a new protocol from Merck with the intention of minimizing the antibiotics used, as Europe has prohibited the use of antimicrobials in livestock without a prescription from a vet and even then they are only used to treat affected animals. The protocol appeared to be very effective, and the calves were in great condition. I appreciated seeing animal husbandry done in another way that kept the animals healthy and minimized the use of antimicrobials.
I am so grateful to have had the chance to work with veterinarians in another country and feel that this has helped me improve my level of Spanish, connect with veterinary professionals and expand my outlook on how things can be done here in the US.