Learning More and Giving Back

Looking Back…

I wrote this post a few weeks ago but I wasn’t able to find the time to finish and get it online.  It’s still relevant, especially as I am planning on going to another conference in just a few weeks.  This time I’ll be learning instead of teaching.Calendar

From October 1st:
Supporting the Veterinary Community

I’m a little nervous because this weekend I’m going to speak to a whole bunch of undergraduate students – it’s a pre-health conference at UC Davis. I haven’t ever done this type of talk before.  UC Davis is hosting a very large group of speakers to talk about the various health careers.  Check out the exotics speakers they have at their blog: http://ucdprehealthvet.weebly.com/avianexotic

But I’m going there because I feel it’s important to give back.LEcture Hall

Giving back, in this instance, is trying to help undergraduates make the right decision about their future.  I hope that I can share what it is really like to be a veterinarian who works with these fun and difficult creatures…the exotics. More commonly I, and my associate, like to provide support by hosting veterinary students.  It’s really important to provide real world experience and to give them a chance to get a good idea of what private practice is all about.  Providing personal mentorship, even for just a few weeks, is an invaluable opportunity for these proto-vets.

It’s also very important to support our support staff – veterinary technicians.  Many students have had rotations at our hospital that have hopefully taught them skills not available in school.

Other ways that vets help each other out is by lecturing at conferences and small meetings or by teaching classes to tech students or vet students.  I found it both fun and nerve wracking to get up in front of peers and colleagues every time I have done it.  I am amazed at veterinarians in private practice who are able to do research or publish papers – how do they find the time!

Learning More

The flip side is being the individual on the receiving end.  I am immensely grateful to my professors and private clinicians who took me under their wings.  They gave me insight into things that aren’t taught in school such as how to talk to clients or discussing difficult cases.

Of course we go to conferences.  Besides the fact that continuing education is a requirement, conferences are how we all try to stay on top of changing information.  New treatments, new tests and sometimes results that tell us “whoops, that doesn’t work”.  In the exotics field we have to work to stay on top of what’s out there.  Networking with colleagues is a great way to talk with veterinarians who think differently.

I’m looking forward to an upcoming conference for specialists – the ABVP (or American Board of Veterinary Practitioners).  Of course I’ll be spending most of my time in talks about birds, rabbits, rodents and reptiles but outside of those talks I’ll be rubbing elbows with all sorts of specialists.  The ABVP covers species specialists including cats, dogs, horses, pigs, cows…they have 11 different categories.Meeting

I don’t really know how much I’ll learn by talking to a dairy specialist at lunch – who knows?  It is always worthwhile to spend time with the veterinarians who have worked hard to gain as much expertise as they can in their field. Here’s an older post on what all those veterinary degrees mean.

I can’t wait to bring some nugget back to Bay Area Bird Hospital and use it!

Out of Town Blues

One of my colleagues just described the following case:Gabby

Petey is an elderly amazon whose owners are out of town for 2 weeks. A petsitter comes by once a day to change his food and water but otherwise he’s alone. On Monday he seemed fine but on Tuesday he was at the bottom of the cage, fluffed with rapid heavy breathing. The petsitter takes him into the vet and agrees to an initial workup.

In The Past…
Petey has been seen by a veterinarian once every 2 to 3 years for an annual physical exam but no health workups have ever been done. The owner always felt the bird seemed fine.

Peyote
Today…

Petey appears to be seriously ill. Luckily the petsitter is prepared and agrees to a health work up. A diagnosis of pneumonia is made based on xrays and bloodwork but Petey needs to be hospitalized. He is sick enough to need monitoring and supportive care.

The Concern…

The owners cannot be reached. All attempts to call their cell phones go straight to voice mail. Emergency contacts listed on the chart are not available.

There is no information for the petsitter to make decisions – potentially costly decisions, potentially life threatening decisions.

Emma

What Would You Do?

Do you want your pet to get all possible care? Do you have a financial limit or know that your pet has a long-term disease that may be getting worse while you are away? How does your veterinarian or your petsitter know these things?

The Solution

Provide your petsitter with a few pieces of information about your desires…even if you are only away for a few days. Some decisions must be made immediately and if your cell phone is off or lacking service you may not get to be a part of that decision.

Let your petsitter know where to take your pet – your regular veterinarian, an alternate, the emergency clinic you prefer (if there is more than one nearby). Advise them what you would like done – all lifesaving treatment? stabilization only? a humane euthanasia under the right circumstances? Be realistic…is there a financial limit you cannot go past?

Authorize your petsitter to make decisions in your absence and discuss that with them. Leave contact numbers that you can be reached at or advise the petsitter when you cannot be reached so that time is not wasted trying to get a hold of you. All too often we have sat around watching a pet that we are not allowed to treat or diagnose while waiting for permissions.

Miss Gregory


The Result

Thinking about your wishes, putting them on paper, advising your petsitter – all these steps can help make your vacation a little more relaxing if all goes well and a little less stressful if things don’t.

International Interests

Travel Abroad- Bali

I recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia (Indonesia and Singapore).  It was amazing, tiring and exciting.  Take a look at this beach view:

View of the bay near Blue Lagoon

View of the bay near Blue Lagoon

I’d love to be able to share the rich variety of bird and animal life I saw on my trip…but I could not get a good photo of a bird to save my life!

The people of Bali are very nice and deeply spiritual.  While most of Indonesia is Muslim, Bali is Hindu.  We discovered that the Hindu new year is celebrated as Nyepi Day in Bali.  It is a day of quiet reflection where everyone stays indoors so that the demons roaming the island will believe it is uninhabited and leave the residents alone for another year.  Everything is shut – including the airports!  There are guards who roam the streets to keep people inside.  We were confined to our hotel for that first day.

Here is the sunset on the beach that evening:

Sunset from hotel.

Sunset from hotel.

This dog is one of many we saw roaming the streets.  Although they seem to be strays, some are in fact owned, loved and cared for by people. Many dogs had collars or were going in and out of houses.

One of the many street dogs in Bali

One of the many street dogs in Bali

The parts of Bali we visited were fairly touristy – walking down any street involved ignoring the near constant calls of “taxi?” or “transport?” Much of what was visible was clearly designed for the tourists.  But the towns were designed and built for the locals – take a look at some of the beautiful statues, figures and mosaics found everywhere.

Painted statue in Sanur

Painted statue in Sanur

Bird mosaic at the entrance to a home.

Bird mosaic at the entrance to a home.

Guardian statue

Guardian statue

Ubud

One of the best bits of our trip involved the Bali Bird Walk.  It was a 3.5 hour or so walk through the rice fields around Ubud (a more centrally located town).  But it was so much more than a bird walk – Su showed us the variety of plants and animals we came across and was willing to discuss her family’s history as well as the changes that have been occurring in Bali.  The only topic she wanted to avoid was politics!  The random strangers you meet on these trips are often more interesting than the trip itself – but not in this instance.  While I never got a good shot of a bird, here are some of the things we saw on the walk:

Squash (?) flower outside Ubud

Squash (?) flower outside Ubud

Rice fields outside Ubud

Rice fields outside Ubud

Stink Beetle outside Ubud

Stink Beetle outside Ubud

Java

After all the nature in Bali we switched gears to find culture on the island of Java.

Entrance to the temple

Entrance to the temple

Borobudur is one of the greatest Buddist temples in the world.  Built in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was designed to create a spiritual journey for pilgrams.  Nowadays it is overrun with tourists and students.  But early risers can beat both the crowds and the heat!  We arrived at 6 am (way too early).  At times, it felt like we were the only people present.

Sunlight reflects off of the mist behind this statue of the buddha

Sunlight reflects off of the mist behind this statue of the buddha

Stupas

…but then the hordes descended!

A long line of people approach Borobudur

A long line of people approach Borobudur

Singapore, at last.

The last stop on our trip was Singapore – quite a change from Java and Bali.  How can anyone get away without a visit to the Zoo and the Bird Park?

Momma holds a 10 day old baby orangutang.

Momma holds a 10 day old baby orangutang.

Just chillin'

Just chillin’

Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) at the Singapore Zoo

Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) at the Singapore Zoo

Ornate Loikeet enjoying some nectar.

Ornate Lorikeet enjoying some nectar.

I got to be part of the show!

I got to be part of the show!