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VETERINARY BASICS FORM UNUSUAL COURSE NAMES

by: Bonnie Coblentz
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Titles like "You Want To Put What, Where?" and "We Don't Just Shoot 'Em Anymore" put a light-hearted spin on some complex science in an attempt to recruit students to a new class that offers a look at veterinary medicine.

Dr. Patty Lathan offered this approach as an introduction to veterinary medicine for the first time this fall at Mississippi State University. Lathan, who is certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, teaches small animal medicine at the veterinary college.

Twenty-five students enrolled in the new class. It is open to all freshmen and transfer students but is geared to those interested in becoming veterinarians.

"Veterinary Medicine: Beyond Shots and De-Worming" is a seminar course offered through the First Year Experience program run by MSU's Center for Teaching and Learning. Fourteen guest lecturers give seminars on a wide variety of topics within the field of veterinary medicine.

"The students have been very receptive and enthusiastic about this class," Lathan said. "I've been amazed at how glued they have been to the lectures. I don't know how often even veterinary students seem that interested, and it's nice to see their interest in areas that we're all so excited about ourselves."

Rachel Howell is a freshman animal and dairy science major from Memphis. She took the class this fall to learn about different fields of veterinary medicine not seen in a typical hometown clinic.

"This class has opened doors for me to make connections with people who could one day help me get into veterinary school at MSU. I am probably more certain than before that veterinary medicine is what I want to pursue," Howell said. "The course has been like a break from my other classes because I truly enjoyed it."

Specific seminar topics include endoscopy, internal medicine, equine and small animal surgery, radiology, chemotherapy, food animal medicine, population control and heartworms. Each lecturer is a board-certified specialist who is active in teaching third- or fourth-year veterinary students during clinical rotations.

Howell said the guest lecturers gave the class variety as students were introduced to several veterinarians with different personalities and specialties.

"You never knew what to expect, so it made every class exciting," Howell said.

In addition to lectures, students are paired with CVM clinicians to shadow for at least six hours during the semester. Students also must write a report on a veterinary topic of their choice that is not covered in class and that relates to something observed during their shadowing experience.

"The students have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the shadowing portion of the course," Lathan said.

Goals for the course are to let undergraduates evaluate different careers in veterinary medicine and to be introduced to the specialization possible in this field. Students will see what a veterinarian does on a daily basis and understand the amount of training required to become a veterinarian.

"This class is very different from the ones typically offered in the veterinary college, and everyone here has been very receptive and helpful with it," Lathan said.

"Veterinary Medicine: Beyond Shots and De-Worming" will be offered again in the spring and was one of just five chosen to be funded for the coming spring.

First Year Experience seminars provide students with an opportunity to become engaged in the excitement of a specific discipline and the intellectual stimulation of the academic culture at MSU. First-year seminars meet once a week and are taught by skilled faculty who focus on topics of special interest to research and teaching in their disciplines.

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