Oh, All the Places Tessa Goes

Tessa Klein’s passion to learn more about dairy cow veterinary medicine has led her to adventures literally around the world.

The fourth-year veterinary medicine student has traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Vermont, North Dakota, California and places in between with the sole purpose of enhancing the education she has received Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“I do like to travel,” the Nebraska native admits, “but my primary goal is to further my career interests.”

Klein, who is a 2+2 student who spent her first two years in veterinary school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is interested in dairy cattle. She’s tracking large animals in the College of Veterinary Medicine, which has allowed her to travel the world to learn how veterinarians across the globe deal with dairy cows.

Her first significant trip of her fourth year included two-week preceptorships in both New Zealand and Australia.

“I was able to do these by networking,” she said. “My experiences traveling have taught me the importance of knowing and valuing people. People are nice if you let them be. People are naturally kind and eager to share their world with those sincerely interested. If you truly appreciate their country’s culture and build good relationships, they are more than willing to welcome you to their farms and homes.”

Klein’s networking began in New Zealand, a country where she spent six months studying abroad as an undergraduate student. A former professor in New Zealand connected her with a clinic she describes as “progressive with ample opportunities for learning.”

Klein timed her two weeks at the Veterinary Centre Oamaru to coincide with the calving season in New Zealand. The mixed-animal practice provided her a hands-on experiences not only with dairy cattle but with treating domesticated deer too.

“I would ride with a different vet every day going out on calls,” she said. “I was able to see different perspectives and learned from some very qualified veterinarians.”

This was Klein’s first time working with deer as the clinic tested the animals for tuberculosis, a yearly requirement for domesticated deer in the country. She described the animals as “in-heat, very high-strung beef cows…times 10.

“I quickly learned to read their body language. If their head or hackles came up, or they faced you, you had to step away to let them cool down.”

While Klein had contacts in New Zealand, that wasn’t the case in Australia. She was discussing her upcoming trip with Dr. Molly Lee, a veterinary specialist in the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State, and Lee said she had an Iowa State classmate whom was practicing in Australia, along with his wife, another ISU graduate.

A few e-mails later and Klein had another two-week preceptorship scheduled at the Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal clinic with Iowa State alumni Drs. Ben and Erica Schmidt.

“They were very kind and said ‘sure, stay with us and work in our clinic for two weeks,’” Klein said. “I did a lot of the same work as I did in New Zealand, since the practice was in a largely dairy area.”

Since her return to the U.S., Klein has embarked on additional preceptorships with veterinary clinics in North Dakota, California and Vermont as well as a week at the diagnostic laboratory at the University of California-Davis.

In Vermont, she was hosted by Dr. Kent Henderson, another Iowa State veterinary graduate, a connection she made through previous summer work with Dr. Scott Armbrust, yet another ISU graduate.

“To do what I was able to do, all the traveling, all the smart generous people I’ve met and learned from, has been a blessing,” Klein said. “It’s almost like I’ve been backpacking across Europe but with veterinary experiences instead of sightseeing.”

Throw in a pair of weeks at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center and additional preceptorships scheduled at clinics in Nebraska and Iowa and you would think that’s all the travel Klein has scheduled.

“I still have time at the end of the semester, so there may be more travel in my future,” she said. “I’m eager to join the profession and invest in students like so many have invested in me.”