Tag: veterinarians (Page 2 of 2)

Do What is Necessary to Achieve the Impossible

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi

As a society, we face many challenges in our ever-changing world. The tumultuous events of this past year have changed many people’s perspective on the future. Our planet is threatened by climate change and human-made toxins that threaten us and the animals that share our environment. Closer to home, we are confronted with increasing pressures to provide high quality education for the next generation of scientists and veterinarians, while the state and federal resources for higher education are under siege. On a daily basis, our staff and faculty strive for excellence, but face challenges ranging from the intense competition for grant funding to crowded exam rooms. Our students struggle to find time for their own wellness, while under the stress of an intense curriculum and the cost of paying back their student loans. We all have our burdens to bear, which can seem impossible to overcome, especially during a holiday season that may inadvertently add the pressure to feel happy when we may not feel like rejoicing. 

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One Health Approach Needed to Advance Society’s Health

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Researchers with the PREDICT program in Tanzania, testing bats for disease that could spread to humans.

Researchers with the PREDICT program in Tanzania, testing bats for disease that could spread to humans.

Almost daily, as a society, we experience the connection and consequences between the health of humans, animals and the environment. The Zika virus — carried by mosquitoes and spreading in many regions of the world — is suspected of causing thousands of human birth defects in Brazil and was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. As much as 75 percent of new or re-emerging diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.

New infectious diseases, climate change, and a moving political landscape are some of the changes that veterinarians, physicians, scientists and other health and environmental professionals must adapt to in meeting these global challenges. That’s where we know the emerging approach known as “One Health” comes in, uniting these professionals in many parts of the world to address complex problems that recognize the vast interrelationships between human, animal and environmental health.

Dr. Brian Bird (Ph.D. '08, DVM '09) outside an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone, with a group of kids who had recovered from the virus and were celebrating their discharge.

Dr. Brian Bird (Ph.D. ’08, DVM ’09) outside an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone, with a group of kids who had recovered from the virus and were celebrating their discharge.

One Health harnesses the power of collaborative expertise to solve the pressing issues we face in our mobile society. For example, early detection and prevention of the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa in 2014 was aided by a team of UC Davis investigators, including veterinarians. This was not the case in a later African outbreak, where a less timely response allowed the virus to spread in other parts of the world. In the 1990s, the first cases of mad cow disease in cattle in the United Kingdom and West Nile virus in birds were first detected or confirmed by astute veterinary pathologists who understood the One Health approach.

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Supporting Each Other Leads to Success

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  — Saint Francis of Assisi

CAPES surgeryIn doing our daily work we sometimes can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of our jobs, events in our lives, or the demands we place on ourselves. Our society, families, and our careers can seem to demand more from us than we are capable of delivering. For veterinarians this has been described in a variety of terms, including “compassion fatigue.” Whether you are a graduate or veterinary student, staff or faculty member, or even a dean, we all may feel overwhelmed at times.

Our ability to be resilient during times of stress may be drained by things beyond our control, leading us to feel we are alone and our tasks ahead of us impossible to complete. In our school and university, we have many resources to support the mental health and wellness of our people. New efforts have been created to bring that support in public view to be shared for the benefit of all, including the new campaign, “Each Aggie Matters.”

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Looking to the Future

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

Time Magazine Video Unit videotapes Laboratory Technician Cheyenne Coxon in the One Health Institute Laboratory for an upcoming feature on the One Health program.

Time Magazine Video Unit videotapes Laboratory Technician Cheyenne Coxon in the One Health Institute Laboratory for an upcoming feature on the One Health program.

As I look toward the future of the School, I am struck by the incredible impact our people make in our society, advancing the health of animals, people, and the planet. This past year brought us many accolades as we relished the accomplishments of our students, staff, and faculty. The numerous stories that originated from our dedication ranged from cases of individual animals that were made healthy by the exceptional care provided by our talented clinicians and staff, to major discoveries that will set the stage for research into problems faced by our society.

Whitney Engler (who died in 2015 shortly before graduating) and her dog Rosie.

Whitney Engler (who died in 2015 shortly before graduating) and her dog Rosie.

We also had heartbreak in 2015 with the tragic death of one of our students, and we suffered along with the victims from the Valley and Butte fires. Most of these events could not have been predicted at the beginning of 2015, but we faced them with the courage and dedication that make us a global leader in veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences.

We have many ambitious goals for 2016, including the opening of two major facilities: the Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration building and the new South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare.

South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare

South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare

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Linking the Past to Our Future

“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” – Lord Acton

This past weekend our school held its annual “Alumni Weekend,” welcoming back to campus selected veterinary classes from 1952 to 2005. Since the first graduates emerged from Haring Hall in 1952, our school has prepared more than 5,000 men and women for careers in clinical veterinary practice, research, public service and academia. Many of our alumni have become leaders in their community, teachers, researchers and scientists of international stature. The success of our alumni is one of the primary reasons that the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is internationally recognized as a global leader in veterinary medicine, agricultural, public health, and biomedical research.

A new website has been created to highlight the history of the school and to remind our alumni that they are part of our collective history. This weekend solidified my belief that our alumni are a hidden strength to our current success—a vital link to our past and a foundation for our future.

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Dean’s Perspective: Student Leadership

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

Dean Lairmore with members of SCAVMA.

A primary goal in our strategic plan is to educate world leaders in veterinary medicine who will contribute to our society in multiple fields, from private practice to public health. During the most recent American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting, I was able to observe the benefits of our leadership training for our veterinary students. The student leaders of our Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) came to the AVMA meeting to network with national leaders, meet students from other schools, and promote the values of professionalism and engagement.

While the concept of a national association of Student Chapters of the AVMA was first proposed in 1966, it was the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine SAVMA who elected a committee in 1969 that set the framework for the proposed national student association. Our current students have continued this tradition of involvement at the national level by addressing important issues facing students, such as student debt and mental health and wellness. 

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