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Oklahoma State University

Veterinary Medicine in India

Friday, September 6, 2019

At the sheep farm (left to right): Christa Olbrey, Rachel Dill, Haley Palacio, Laura Edwards, Avery Melton and Bennet Lane.

An agreement between Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and India’s Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) afforded six students the opportunity to experience veterinary medicine in India this summer.

Accompanied by faculty members Drs. Lionel Dawson and Madhan Subramanian, the group visited TANUVAS, Namakkal Veterinary College, a separate college under the TANUVAS system, and Sandynella, a sheep research station in the mountains of India. Among the students traveling were Rachel Dill, fourth year, and Laura Edwards, third year.

“The thing that interested me the most about this trip to India was really the caseload,” explained Dill. “Their internal medicine department saw about 150 cases a day, which is phenomenal. I was really interested to see the different distribution of diseases that they have present there versus here. A lot of the diseases they have we control really well through vaccine programs. Seeing things like distemper on my first day was a very cool and exciting experience. Being in India and having the cultural experience to go along with it was an added bonus.”

Students were selected based on their level of interest and their academic standing. Dr. Dawson, professor in veterinary clinical sciences, has been teaching at TANUVAS over the years.

“Since I graduated from TANUVAS, my goal was to expose the students to different diseases and conditions seen in India’s companion animals and livestock and also make them understand some of the culture involved in how they raise animals in India,” said Dawson. “I was very surprised at how well our students did adapting to some adverse conditions. The summer was very hot there and we didn’t have air conditioning all the time. They adapted quickly.”

group in fron tof Madras Veterinary College
The OSU team prepares to meet with the Chief Minister of Tamin Nadu. Pictured above (left to right) are: Avery Melton, Haley Palacio, Rachel Dill, Bennet Lane, Christa Olbrey, Laura Edwards and Dr. Lionel Dawson.

“What surprised me the most about my experience in India was the fact that we got to see all different kinds of animals being treated by doctors who are just as passionate as we are here in the states,” added Edwards. “We were told beforehand to understand there were going to be some cultural differences so we walked into it thinking that perhaps the owners wouldn’t treat their pets just like family. Time and time again I saw owners go above and beyond for their pets and that was really incredible.”

“I was surprised by the people,” said Dill. “I knew Chennai, where the university is located, is a very large city in India, but there were a lot of people and they all had their animals. Clinics opened at 8 a.m. but at 7 or 7:30 a.m. they would be lined up ready to see the veterinarians. I was able to see a lot of really cool medicine. We have a lot of capabilities and thankfully we have many clients at OSU with finances. In India, a lot of the families didn’t have the finances to do the best testing or the best procedures. Being able to see the veterinarians work in their element and do what they could for every family, I think was probably one of the most educational experiences.”

“I felt that I was able to learn about the different aspects of veterinary medicine,” said Edwards. “We visited the dermatology department, theriogenology, soft tissue surgery department, and orthopedics. India is this wonderful, colorful, culturally inviting area. The people of India and the veterinarians specifically are incredibly talented and passionate about their work. It was a wonderful experience to visit and learn about the way that they treat animals.”

Dr. Dawson has been working to establish the agreement between the two universities for years. Per the agreement, seven students from India will visit OSU’s veterinary college in Stillwater during the fall semester.

“I hope the students from India will be able to get a nice perspective on how we treat animals here,” said Edwards. “I know we have a very kind and gentle touch and a rigorous training program. We do a lot more spaying and neutering here in the states and I think that would be a wonderful experience for the students.”

group with an elephant
The OSU team meets an elephant at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park. Pictured above (left to right) are: Bennet Lane, Dr. Lionel Dawson, the elephant handler in the background, Haley Palacio, Avery Melton, Laura Edwards, Rachel Dill and Christa Olbrey.

“I hope they will be able to see all of the cool toys that we have like our CT machine or our MRI,” added Dill. “With the capabilities that we have here, we are able to endoscope a lot of things. We do advanced diagnostic skills. I want them to be able to not only see those but see how they relate in a treatment plan. I think that’s something they may not have been exposed to as much because of the financial constraints of some families. I think that will be a great learning opportunity for them.”

Dawson says the students studying veterinary medicine in India are much younger than American students.

“India’s students enter veterinary school when they are about 17 years old right from high school,” explained Dawson. “I want our visitors to see how things are done a little bit different from what they are taught in India. Students will be exposed to the latest technologies available in our clinics.”

Both Edwards and Dill are looking forward to extending the same welcoming hospitality to the India students as they received on their visit.

“I’m very thankful that I got to go on the trip and hope that students who go in the future have as amazing of an experience as I did,” said Dill.

“It was a wonderful trip,” echoed Edwards. “I never would have seen veterinary medicine in India without the help of OSU and especially Dr. Dawson. Anyone who is thinking they might want to go should absolutely take the leap.”

This trip was made possible, in part, thanks to the School of Global Studies and Partnerships and the Don and Cathey Humphreys Travel Grants programs. For more information on Oklahoma State’s DVM program, visit DVM program webpage.

MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences | 405-744-6740 |

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