Vet Med Students 2011 Study Abroad in Germany

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Vet Med Students 2011 Study Abroad in Germany

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  • Day 1: Hannover, May 16, 2011

    The original veterinary teaching facilities in Europe were built around horses, cattle, and other production animal systems. Rinderpest and other food safety concerns, were driving forces for the education of veterinarians. Today, 250 years later, the NATO Infectious Diseases Committee will declare rinderpest irradicated!

    Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (University of Veterinary Medicina Hannover Foundation) is a federally funded institution. Students pay 500€ a semester to attend the institution. The students are enrolled primarily in veterinary medical education (98%), with the remaining percentages of students showing interest in degrees in biology and other fields. TiHo ist he oldest existing veterinary medical training school in Germany and has, since its founding, created worldwide partnerships and gained much respect.

    Unlike the U.S. schools, TiHo does not have one large clinic comprised of many small departments. Instead, the school has six clinics with larger, more specialized, departments at each location. Some of the university departments include: WHO-center of veterinary public health, EU-reference laboratory for classic swine fever, a library, a museum on the history of veterinary medicine, and a center for animal welfare. In addition there are many specialist centers for specific animal treatments and research.

    Funding for research comes from the DFG (a federally funded organization) which is very competitive. About 1 in 5 research program applications will receive funding.

    Graduates form TiHo receive advanced graduate degrees in pathobiology, neuroinfectiology, and translational medicine, as well as, PhDs and masters of science animal biology/biomedical sciences. Dr. Greif emphasized that education involved concern in zoonoses! The university sees around 30,000 clinical cases a year and countless amounts of laboratory cases. Dr. Greif’s talk was a great way to start the trip. He was extremely informative and welcomed us with open arms.

    Following the talk, the students had many questions which sparked interesting conversations. We then learned about the free movement of veterinary services within the EU. This means that if you receive an education anywhere within the EU, that education is accepted throughout the EU. This is considered „free movement of labor“. Another topic of conversation was the issue of „tracking“ that we follow in the U.S., where students are following a oath that moves them further and further toward specialization in their area of interest, be that companion animal, equine, or production medicine. Dr. Greif emphasized to us the importance of broad education in all fields, even when a person specializes in a specific aspect of one field. The structure of the German veterinary curriculum is very different than that of U.S. schools. It is a 6 year program, and includes a set amount of hours of chemistry, biology, physics, and biochemistry in the first 2 years, followed by veterinary medical courses.

    After meeting with President Greif, we visited with Dr. Hackbarth to talk about animal welfare within both Germany and the E.U. The discussion began by defining animal welfare and animal protectionist. A major point made by this definition was the difference between animal protest groups, citizens feeding wildlife, and veterinarians. As anyone can see, these entities support very different beliefs, leading to a complicated topic! Most likely the best definition of animal welfare would be one that comprises an overlap of the three definitions: emotional, legal, and scientific. It can be assumed that these three definitions are often in dispute with each other. Much of this debate comes from a lack of education.

    The media plays a large role in the emotional viewpoint of animal welfare. Legal viewpoints sometimes are contradictory to welfare, because they only consider the best welfare to humans. Scientific aspects can be best suited based on knowledge alone. However, it takes a combination of all of these three to best represent animal welfare. We must realize that „knowledge protects animals“, so research on animals is sometimes warranted. In conjunction, some emotional and legal interventions are needed to look out for the best interest of the creature. Dr. Hackbarth did a great job of explaining and presenting theses definitions and their interactions.

    We also discussed how we can perform research in animal welfare. For example, Dr. Hackabrth researched how much weight is acceptable for an animal, like a horse, to pull on a wagon. He learned that by measuring the amount of time it takes for an accelerated heart rate to decrease back to normal is the best method for determining amount of work.

    Animal welfare, we learned, can be traced back to 2,000 B.C. A stone called the Codex Hammurabi, which is now located at the Louvre, is the first documentation of animal welfare law. This stone contains thousands of hieroglyphs that explain consequences of mistreating animals, how much veterinarians were to be paid, etc. It was interesting to discuss the development of animal law in the world since this time. Furthermore, he went into some specifics of animal welfare laws in Germany. Much of these laws paralleled the laws in the United States.


    After the animal Welfare discussion with Dr. Hackbarth, our group continued to the „Mensa“, or school cafeteria. There we had an opportunity to interact with some of the German Veterinary students over lunch.

    Following lunch, we visited Serengeti Park, an adventure zoo. Here we took a small safari-like trip and visited with the resident veterinarian. Students saw everything from water-buffalo to Begal Tigers, and even fed a giraffe. The experience was educational, informative, and a lot of fun.

    To end the day, we attended dinner at a local German restaurant. The food was authentic and the company unmatched. A great way to start the trip.

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