The Human Side to Veterinary Medicine

Drew Noel wanted to learn more about pork production systems during a summer internship.

But perhaps just as valuable as his experiences with pigs was that he learned there was a human side to veterinary medicine as well.

“Before this summer I didn’t realize how important the interaction a veterinarian has with the production managers and staff is,” he said. “It’s just as important in many cases as to what treatment an animal is prescribed.”

Noel participated in Iowa State’s Swine Veterinary Internship Program (SVIP). Interns collaborate with veterinarians at production systems and/or practices where they design and execute field trials with guidance from mentors.

Noel worked at Pillen Family Farms in Columbus, Nebraska, an operation of 55,000 sows. His duties included job shadowing staff veterinarians on calls and he worked on a project for Merck Animal Health.

“I really wanted to take last summer to learn as much as possible about pork production systems as I could,” Noel said. “The internship was my first taste of doing veterinary-related tasks by myself.”

During his summer working he drew blood from the animals, administrated medications and learned about treatment and disease protocols for swine operations.

“The internship provided me an opportunity to do things I didn’t know about before,” Noel said. “I went into the summer not very knowledgeable about pigs – now I feel like I know a lot about them.

“After completing the internship, I have a good handle on this area and know what the right way to do things is.”

Noel’s research project evaluated the influenza detection ability of a post-mortem bronchial swap. He did several post-mortem examinations and become proficient in sample collection during the 12-week internship.

“The veterinarian I worked with made sure I saw everything I needed to, especially in regards to infectious diseases,” Noel said. “But more than anything I gained a real appreciation for a veterinarian’s relationship with the production staff.

“Before my internship, I didn’t realize how veterinarians must work effectively with people at all levels of the company to ensure animal health,” he continued. “Pillen’s staff vet gave me a great example of that this summer.”