A Month Full of Pigs

July 2018

And just like that another fourth-year rotation is in the books! Since my last blog, I have been immersed in swine land. I first completed a preceptorship with Iowa Select Farms and am now just wrapping up a rotation at ISU with the Swine Medicine Education Center (SMEC), best known as “SMEC 480.”

For my preceptorship, I commuted from Ames to various locations to ride along with the companies’ veterinarians and production managers. I learned a lot in my short two weeks, but my favorite part was getting to know each person’s journey to their current position and trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible from all of their years of experience. I was able to see a variety of sites and flows. It was great to see how well the veterinarians were able to convert their classroom and textbook knowledge into a living and breathing system in order to make it practical.

The SMEC 480 rotation is definitely a fan favorite. Whenever I have attended a student panel or have asked graduates what their favorite ISU rotations have been, SMEC 480 is always mentioned, even if they were small-animal focused.

The biggest compliment of this rotation is that “you are the vet.” Meaning that after some on-farm training, you are assigned to a student group and multiple sites with a health concern. Your group then goes out to that farm without a veterinarian and you are to evaluate the site, records, management, pigs, along with talking to the production staff and veterinarian that oversees the site. After your group assessment, you call your assigned SMEC Post-Doctoral Research Associate (a veterinarian that is completing a masters or PhD program) to discuss your findings and your plan for diagnostics. It really tosses you into the role of a swine veterinarian, with plenty of support if needed. You then present your site findings in a rounds discussion the next day.

I learned a lot during the SMEC 480 rotation, especially from the rounds discussions. I may have been the only swine focused student in the rotation, but I learned a lot from my rotation mates, who had a different perspective when going through site visits and protocols. This rotation exposed me to multiple clinics and systems, along with their management styles, written protocols, and standard operating procedures. I would recommend for anyone to take it, even if you have never touched a pig before, it doesn’t matter.

My next rotation keeps me at ISU, still on the large animal side of things, with Food Animal and Camelid Field Service. I promise I do have to take small animal rotations to graduate, they all just fell late in my fourth year.

Until next time,