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Study abroad course provides students hands-on experience

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Dr. Kelsey Jurek, DVM, Oklahoma State University Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, cares for a burro as students observe.
Oklahoma State University students and faculty travel to Mexico to care for people and animals.

A study abroad course took 18 pre-vet and two pre-med students to Mexico this summer, providing hands-on experience and a better understanding of the One Health concept. 

One Health is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, according to a recent release.

The June 2022 course was organized by the Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture in partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Health Sciences. Dr. Kelsey Jurek, DVM, OSU College of Veterinary Medicine clinician and lecturer who served as a faculty advisor, and two third-year veterinary students, Braden Steidley and Porter Sciba, led the group abroad.

Mexico

The students traveled between Mexico City, Puebla and Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. During the rural clinic days, they served the Úrsulo-Galván, Nueva Masamilla and La Barahunda communities.

Jurek worked closely with local veterinarians to oversee the students as they performed exams and provided horse care.

“Each equid (horse or burro) was given a thorough physical examination, assigned a body condition score and their age was verified using their dentition (condition and arrangement of their teeth),” Jurek said. “Any wounds the animal had were cleaned and treated with topical ointments and each equid was administered an oral anthelmintic (deworming medication).

“We also saw several horses with respiratory disease that we treated with antibiotics and performed several musculoskeletal and respiratory evaluations and castrations.”

This study abroad course provided students and faculty the opportunity to gain experience and serve others.

“This course offered students hands-on experience working in their respective fields and getting exposure to what those career paths are all about,” Jurek said. “Another key goal was to introduce, incorporate and promote the One Health initiative among the students, the CVM, CHS, and the communities we had the privilege of serving.”

Serving

Students also learned the importance of serving others.

“Lastly, but certainly one of the most chief components of the course, was to provide medical care and education to members of the community and their working equids,” Jurek said. “By bettering human and animal health, we have the opportunity to help better the overall health of these communities — a true example of One Health at work!”

Faculty also found it rewarding. “From an educator’s standpoint, this course was incredibly motivating,” Jurek said. “It is so fun to get to work with these pre-vet and vet students in this setting because I remember being in their shoes! Everything I mentioned regarding the impact of the course for the students holds true for myself, as well.”

Caring for and educating and mentoring students while strengthening relationships within the OSU community, are key elements that lead to fulfilling the college’s mission and vision.

“I highly encourage anyone, faculty and students, wanting to get involved in something like this to reach out,” Jurek said. “This course is such an awesome display of collaboration and unity on the part of OSU and I can’t wait to see how the program continues to grow and the impact it will make on a global scale.”

For more information about participating in this study abroad opportunity, faculty and students can visit the course website or contact José Uscanga at jose.uscanga@okstate.edu or 405-744-6580.

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