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Inaugural Penn Vet Palpation Team Takes First at 2019 SAVMA Symposium Competition

By: Hannah Kleckner Hall Date: Apr 8, 2019

[April 8, 2019; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] – The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) students took home first-place honors during the 2019 Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Bovine Palpation Competition held March 9-11, 2019 at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.

The 2019 Penn Vet Bovine Palpation TeamThe students on the 2019 Penn Vet palpation team included:

  • Jordan Fairman, V’20, Du Bois, Pennsylvania
  • Emily Griswold, V’20, Millerstown, Pennsylvania
  • Karalyn Lonngren, V’21, West Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • Amy Middleton, V’21, Mill Hall, Pennsylvania
  • Michael Topper, V’21, Limington, Maine

The first Penn Vet contingent to ever compete in the national contest, the five-student-team was one of thirteen representing veterinary schools across the United States.

The competition is conducted in three sessions over the course of three days. The first two sessions are comprised of a written exam and a lab practicum covering all aspects of beef and dairy reproduction. Two students from each of the top five teams advance to the final round of competition that tests their palpation skills on live cows.

“We have been preparing for this event since our first year of vet school, spending several hours per month practicing at Marshak Dairy to improve our skills and knowledge of bovine reproduction,” said Griswold, the Bovine Palpation Team captain. “In addition, we have all devoted large portions of our summer breaks to developing our palpation skills by working with bovine veterinarians across the country.”

Bovine palpation is very important to ensuring a healthy cow and calf throughout pregnancy, diagnosing possible infectious or degenerative diseases in cattle, and is an essential component of the services veterinarians offer their producers to improve overall herd health and profitability. Developing this skill requires years of practice to be able to perform safely, accurately, and efficiently.

"As the very first team to represent Penn Vet in this national contest, I could not be more proud of these students and their dedication to growing and developing their skills as future veterinarians,” said Dr. Michael Pesato, a Lecturer and Food Animal Field Service clinician at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center who served as the team’s advisor and coach. “Their success is the direct result of the many hours they have each spent studying, practicing, and preparing for the competition and, more importantly, their careers in food animal practice.”