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March Madness Means Intensive Training in Livestock Medicine at New Bolton Center

By Louisa Shepard Published: Feb 25, 2015

(February 25, 2015, Kennett Square, PA) – To many, March Madness means basketball, but at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center, it means an opportunity for soon-to-be farm animal veterinarians to put their skills to work before graduation.

Now in its 26th year, the program, fondly dubbed "March Madness" on campus, is designed to give fourth-year students important, intensive experience in medical and surgical care of farm pig castration surgery animals such as cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and alpacas.

“This is the capstone of the senior year for our students who are interested in veterinary practice for food animals once they graduate,” said Dr. Ray Sweeney, Chief of Large Animal Internal Medicine and Ophthalmology.

The program, which offers service discounts to owners who participate, will run from March 2 to March 27.

“To encourage owners to send these cases to New Bolton Center for this rotation, the School underwrites some of the hospitalization charges so the seniors have a concentrated number of food-animal cases to work on,” Sweeney said.

“Under supervision, they get to take more responsibility and do more of the hands-on work with these animals than they normally would up to this point in their veterinary training.”

Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Marie-Eve Fecteau, Assistant Professor of Food Animal Medicine and Surgery, supervise the students while they work on these cases.

More than 100 animals participate in this special program each year. Many referring vets will recommend their patients come to New Bolton Center during this time, even though they might normally handle the case on the farm.

“We really appreciate the local vets’ support for this program, as well as our own Field Service doctors who refer many of our cases,” Sweeney said.

A typical condition treated as part of the program includes the left displacement of the abomasum (LDA), otherwise known as twisted stomach, a common condition in dairy cows. The stomach displaces and has to be corrected surgically, usually out in the field. As part of this program, the surgery will be performed in the hospital at no charge, if the case is routine.

The hospital also offers reduced rates for surgery to correct umbilical hernias, castrations, and dehornings, procedures often done on the farm. The students also will take on medical cases such as calf pneumonia and diarrhea.

“It’s one of the last rotations the students have before they graduate and put that VMD after their names,” Sweeney said. “At this point they are highly trained and skilled and ready to go out and practice veterinary medicine. We really let them spread their wings before we push them out of the nest.”

About Penn Vet

Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 31,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 4,000 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats nearly 36,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

For more information, visit www.vet.upenn.edu.

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About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 4,900 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

Media Contacts

Martin Hackett
Director of Communications and Marketing
mhackett@vet.upenn.edu
215-898-1475

John Donges
Communications Coordinator
jdonges@vet.upenn.edu
215-898-4234

Hannah Kleckner
Communications Specialist for New Bolton Center
hkleck@vet.upenn.edu
610-925-6241