The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team provides the nation’s only required clinical educational experience in veterinary medical emergency preparedness and response. This educational effort is receiving national acclaim and is one of the facets that keep the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at the forefront of veterinary medical education. Cutting edge simulation techniques are used to create an exceptional educational environment for students. The simulations and partnerships with county officials provide the opportunity to teach students topics and skills that extend far beyond veterinary medicine.
The educational efforts of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team provide a significant component of the veterinary medical curriculum and, as stated earlier, is one of the areas in which the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences is leading the nation. The required rotation in emergency preparedness and response was developed as a result of the exceptional educational experience provided our students during actual emergency deployments of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team.
The emergency preparedness and response segments of the Community Connections rotation, as a required rotation has five to seven students for thirty hours each week. Twenty of the twenty-four rotations also have a one to two day weekend experience with Texas Task Force 1 at the Disaster City facility. There are five faculty members and two staff members who provide instruction for the rotation.
Students on the Community Connections rotation are put into a disaster scenario via Second Life technology. In this virtual disaster zone, students are expected to triage and treat animals injured in the disaster. In addition, they must deal with multiple complications from reporters, animal owners, elected officials, and others who create chaos. During the simulation, students must also maintain situational awareness and follow safety protocols. This interactive technology allows students to make medical decisions and realize the consequences of those decisions without putting them or the animals they treat in harm’s way.
Links to reflection essays provided by students who have been involved in team deployments may be found below. The message these essays contain is that participation in emergency response teaches lessons that are difficult to teach in any other component of the veterinary medical curriculum. These lessons include teamwork, communication, leadership, team management, situational awareness, and the value of public and community service. The rotation that has grown out of team deployments is designed to also teach students about the rich and diverse culture of the State of Texas and is one of the mechanisms for teaching and evaluating seven core competencies identified by the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium’s Roadmap for Veterinary Medical Education in the 21st Century. These core competencies are communication, collaboration, self, team, and systems management, life-long learning, leadership, diversity and multicultural awareness, and adaptation to changing environments.