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On the Job with CVHS's Newest Equine Surgeon

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On the Job with CVHS's Newest Equine Surgeon

Watch the interview with Dr. Burba on OState TV.

by Elisabeth J. Giedt, DVM

Dan Burba grew up on a farm in eastern Kentucky and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. He came to Oklahoma State University in 1986 to complete an internship followed by a residency.  Even though he left OSU in 1990 upon completion of those positions, Oklahoma remained a favorite of his.  So much so that when invited to interview for an open position at the center’s Veterinary Medical Hospital, he said he “couldn’t miss that opportunity.”

Dr. Burba recently joined OSU’s equine veterinary team as a professor of equine surgery and is now seeing patients.  Get to know Dr. Burba as you read his thoughts on his career, what it takes to be a good surgeon and how his knowledge and expertise can help any horse owner—from the casual pleasure rider to the fierce competitor.

“I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a veterinarian,” recalls Burba.  “We had horses on the farm and I always enjoyed working with them.  So in veterinary college, it was a natural for me to focus on being an equine veterinarian.  However, I never really thought about being a surgeon until my OSU mentor inspired me to look into equine surgery.  I followed that path and here I am today.

“What I like most about equine surgery is the challenges it brings,” he continues.  “Often you don’t know what you are going to encounter in surgery.  I like knowing that I am doing something good that will hopefully make the horse better and fix the problem.  And I love teaching – it’s one of my favorite passions.  I’ve been in academia for more than 24 years.  I enjoy teaching students something they will follow as a career path.  Having the ability to mold somebody, inspire somebody, and give them knowledge is a profession that’s unlike any other.

“I think there are a couple of key things to look for in students who may be potential equine surgeons.  For one, they need a desire to work with horses.  Secondly, to be successful they obviously need the skill to use their hands.  When you are teaching students, you can see that some of them are very good with their hands.”

Dr. Burba is excited to be back in Oklahoma and working at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital.  He earned his DVM degree from Auburn University and following completion of his internship and residency at OSU, he became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (a board certified equine surgeon).  Most recently he taught equine surgery at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.   

“I try to help the average horse owner by educating them about their horse and the health of horses in general,” adds Burba.  “Owners may be unaware of some tips that may help their horse do better or live better.  For example, cribbing surgery may help break this habit in horses, which left uncontrolled can lead to permanent tooth damage or weight loss.  And for the professional horse owner, veterinary medicine and surgery has many advanced treatments that we can now offer.  With these new techniques and treatments, owners have more options to help their equine athlete.

“When I was doing my internship and residency here, I fell in love with the people and the horses. I am excited to be back in Oklahoma and for the opportunity to work with this team.  I look forward to new adventures and new challenges.  I hope to make a positive impact on the program here—both for the students and for the clients we serve at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital.”

Dr. Burba will be speaking at a Horse Owner’s Workshop sponsored by OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and Animal Science Department on March 7.  The event is open to the public with limited registration.  For more information, call (405) 744-6060.

The equine team at Oklahoma State’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences includes specialists trained in equine internal medicine, surgery, anesthesia, sports medicine and rehabilitation as well as advanced diagnostic imaging.  The OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital treats all species—companion animals, food animals, horses, and exotic pets.  To make an appointment, call (405) 744-7000.


Veterinary Viewpoints is provided by the faculty of the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital.  Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open to the public providing routine and specialized care for all species and 24-hour emergency care, 365 days a year.

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