I am a Brazilian veterinarian who works as an equine surgeon at Austral University in Valdivia, Chile. After several years of hosting Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine students in Chile, I was pleased to visit Auburn for a two-month “sister universities” scholarship in the summer of 2010. I was officially hosted by the equine surgery group, but I got along easily with others in the equine section.
I was looking for an opportunity to learn from a group of experienced board-certified professionals in a place where the equine industry is larger than in Brazil or Chile, hence the visit to the John Thomas Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital seemed to be the perfect match. A place where “state-of-the-art equine medicine and surgery are performed” and there is “easy access to faculty members for the exchange of technical information” was a great combination.
The friendliness of people is appreciated by any visitor, especially a foreigner with English as a second language. English is actually my fourth language, so the famous Alabama Southern hospitality made my visit comfortable and welcoming. I stayed at the OTS house, a veterinary fraternity, where I had more facilities than I really needed (foosball and billiards), but importantly I was across the road from the Large Animal Teaching Hospital, eliminating the need for transportation. I could walk across to see emergencies during the evenings. Although I could take Tiger Transit, everyone was willing to take me shopping for groceries.
There is no doubt Auburn’s Large Animal Teaching Hospital is an outstanding facility and I believe one of the most modern in the U.S., but what impressed me the most was the commitment and dedication of the equine faculty members and staff to the education of the students (graduate and undergraduate), therefore ensuring a solid foundation that will serve them their entire veterinary career. Also, the kind relationship between people tended to increase communication, which I consider fundamental in transmitting knowledge in my experience (five years) as a teacher. This encouraged me to feel comfortable and to participate as much as possible in activities not just related to my area of major interest (equine surgery), but in all large animal sections. During my stay, I learned an enormous amount from my hosts which strongly contributed to helping direct my future career goals.
My family used to raise Quarter Horses and was directly involved (though geographically separated) with the United States Quarter Horse industry. It was therefore very interesting to see the U.S. industry from the viewpoint of university faculty, field practitioners, and horse owners. I had the opportunity to go on ambulatory calls with field practitioners and this was a great way to see the Alabama horse industry first hand.
It was very intellectually beneficial and pleasant to participate in several graduate classes and labs and to feel the concern of my faculty hosts in providing as much help as I needed. Due to the strong link between Auburn University and Kentucky, they helped arrange a visit to Lexington and the opportunity to spend some time at the large equine private practice Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. I also was able to attend the International Symposium on Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy which occurred at Auburn during my visit.
I would like to thank Professor Toro and Dean Boosinger from Auburn and Dean Tadich from Austral for creating an international exchange agreement between both veterinary colleges. This has previously allowed student visits between the two sister schools and I was really lucky to be the first exchange faculty to benefit from the agreement. I believe great benefits can come out of this relationship for any person involved.
I hope to continue to work with the equine faculty at Auburn both in collaborative research and in hosting students and faculty. Not only was my visit a unique personal experience that I can hopefully one day repeat, but I think it helps make the world (especially the veterinary community) a smaller place. I look forward to helping other people experience such a wonderful opportunity.
Thank you and “War Eagle,”
Bruno Carvalho Menarim
Equine Surgery, Veterinary Science Faculty