Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Clock of All Clocks: World Clock 2008

I just spent the past hour obsessing over how to get my newly finicky dog, who's recently achieved geriatric status, to finish her breakfast. With concern over her recent lack of gusto for food, I put her through a battery of tests to rule out cancer, underlying renal disease, liver disease, and the whole gamut of possibilities; she was clearly disgusted with the whole production, and I am sure, has already begun writing a lengthy manifesto to her fellow street dogs back in Puerto Rico to warn them of the hazards of being adopted by a veterinarian. Anyway, after discussing the matter with an internal medicine specialist and my roommate from vet school, the three of us concluded that her symptoms, in conjunction with her test results, are most consistent with, (insert drum roll), getting old; she's got some mild decreased kidney function and tummy troubles.

With a month off before starting the MPVM program at Davis this fall, and my last day of practice work behind me, I suddenly have more time on my hands. You'd think this bout of freedom would be a cause for celebration, but I've acquired an unexpected inability to figure out what to do with myself in my spare time. Consequently, I find myself spending an inordinately unhealthy amount of time starring at my dog, wondering if the food I've placed in front of her will meet her criteria for the day. I've become extremely boring and clearly need some other outlets to gain perspective. So, it was very timely that I stumbled across a recent post on the ecovet forum that successfully popped my small world bubble......
To pop your small world bubble and gain global perspective, click here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Convergence of Opposites for Green

Cleverly stepping beyond the lines drawn in the sand between opposing political and religious factions, Al Gore has created a smart ad campaign, which pairs folks like Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich together to help in the fight against global warming.

Ecovet forum launched!

Got questions, opinions, or ideas on any aspect of conservation medicine, world health, or the state of the earth? Here's your chance to share and get feedback from others. Check out ecovet international's new forum........
Enter Ecovet Forum by clicking here

Friday, February 22, 2008

Partnerships, Progress, and Endless Possibilities

I remember taking a night train from Warsaw to Prague in the spring of 1992. Around two in the morning, a security officer dressed in a drab trench coat and tall, lace up boots, flung open the door to our sleep cabin, and yelled words at me that I didn't understand. After a few jarring moments, I realized, with the help of the Australian traveller sitting next to me, that the officer wanted to see my eurorail pass. Unfortunately, I had been issued a pass with an older version of the eurorail map displayed on the front. The Czech Republic wasn't included as one of the pre-paid areas of travel.

With no money on me, I had sudden visions of being thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere, forced to freeze my ass off in the dark of night. I exchanged some helpless looks, hoping the guard would have pity on me. No such luck......My new Australian friend, sensing panic in my blank look, started pointing to my ticket and began piecing together some fragmented German, indicating that my eurorail map was old. "Dies ist alt, Dies ist Alt," she sputtered. I started doing the same, and after a few seconds, (seemed like hours), the guard broke into a pinched smile, but clearly understood the problem. He made an about-face turn, slammed the door, and marched off.

Communication is a tricky business. There is tremendous value in transdisciplinary collaboration as as the key to effecting ecological health solutions, but the burning question is how to bridge the communication gap that exists between specializations as well as between field professionals and the general public. Ever the diplomat, I'm eager to facilitate the formation of collaborative partnerships, (ecovet international is one example), but I have come up against many isolated thinkers, who limit themselves to the specifics of their academic discipline instead of seeing the potential in partnering with others to uncover revolutionary, "big picture" break throughs.

Fortunately, globalization is causing a shift in this sort of conventional isolation. Today, while surfing through the latest articles on the environmental News Network, I came across a great example of the possiblities that can result when people think outside the box and build on the skills of eachother, without being limited by language barriers that exist between disciplines.

Check this out........New Map of Hot Spot Disease Emergence

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost in the Midst

Brain fog was heavy this morning until I took my first few sips of coffee. The synapses are sluggishly starting to fire now....

Since the brain is clearly struggling today, I'll go back to a topic that's frequently on my mind.

I often wonder how many practicing veterinarians went to veterinary school with the intention of working in conservation, but now find themselves working in private practice. A good 15 or so of my classmates are in this situation; some of them are content with their current work, but others are revisiting ways to break into the field after wondering how they got lost en route to a career in conservation medicine in spite of all the support and encouragement they received in school. At the time, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the burgeoning field of international medicine and conservation health, but little structured course work in place to guide students toward their goal.

In looking back on my own experience, it wasn't for any lack of ambition or resilience on my part or that of my peers that we got lost in the midst of a traditional curriculum trying to expand its focus in the context of changing societal needs. To boot, many of us graduated with the somewhat naive notion that we could break into the field of conservation medicine drawing soley on experience and contacts. I realize now that, as veterinary students in the ninties, we were struggling to find our way into a sector of veterinary medicine that was itself, in the embryonic stages of its development and acceptance. I commend those of my classmates who had the foresight to understand the future importance of transdisciplinary collaboration and sought to supplement their veterinary training with advanced degrees in areas of ecology, policy, and public health.

Fast forward to today, and the situation is much more encouraging. Over the past few days, I've been perusing the archives and more recent buzz of plans to restructure the existing veterinary curriculum in order to accomodate the increasing need for a stronger veterinary presence in public service work, policy making, research, and conservation medicine. Conversations on this subject have gained momentum, in part due to bioterrorism fears post 9/11, which brought global health and disease epidemics into the spotlight; yet, even back in the early ninties, veterinary visionaries, like those behind the envirovet program saw the need for advanced training in ecotoxicology and conservation policy.

In April of 2007, The Veterinary Workplace Expansion Act was passed, which offers grants to veterinary institutions looking to develop programs in public health and biomedical research. Definitely a step in the right direction. Additionally, many veterinary schools in the States and abroad have already developed advanced degree programs to address these needs and are gaining more attention. To get a taste of this, check out the "LEARN" section on the ecovet international website.

I'm most curious to chat with current veterinary students to get their take on the situation. Another big hurdle ahead is how to effectively prepare college students for a veterinary school experience that anticipates the need for collborations with other professionals in science and health.

Ahhh. Brain Strain.....more coffee beckons.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Soggy Sneakers

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain tapping against the window and resigned myself to a soggy morning run. Even Pilar, my dog, sighed in disgust when I let her outside to pee. Winter's here in San francisco.......

As usual, in spite of the rain, my mood started to lift 10 minutes into my run. Anyway, during my usual un-jumbling of thoughts and regular sightings this morning, (crazy lady in purple spandex with strawberry motif on hat, great blue heron in lagoon sharing strange resemblance to high school history teacher, stomach growling, leading to thoughts of breakfast...), I kept on coming back to the latest Ecohealth issue, which zooms out and takes a thoughtful look at indigenous cultures in the context of globalization and environmental change; it underscores the apparent disparity facing indigenous populations who, on the one hand, have cultivated many sustainable practices, maintaining a respectful balance with their surroundings; yet, on the other hand, are fast becoming the greatest victims of climate change, disease emergence, and urbanization.

Go to Ecohealth Online for subscription sign up and check out the latest goings on at Ecohealth and the Ecohealth Student Division. Also, save the date The International Association for Ecology and Health Conference to take place December of 2008 in Merida, Mexico; it would be great to get a stronger veterinary presence at the meeting this year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Envirovet Webumentaries

Check out the following short video clip narrated by Dr. Val Beasley, Executive Director of the Envirovet Summer Institute and professor in the biosciences department at The University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Beasley succinctly explains how veterinarians bring a critical and unique perspective to scientific collaborations working in the field of ecosystem health and sustainability. To learn more about the Envirovet Summer Institute, go to "LEARN" on the ecovet international web site, and you will find it listed under short courses.