I had a wonderful experience at the MARVET Mexico workshop. My three top things that I thought were the best about the workshop were: 1) Diverse, hands-on experience with a large number of species 2) Lectures and practical teaching by experts in the field of aquatic animal medicine 3) Connections that I made with people in my desired field of work.
The species that I was able to work with during the workshop included dolphins, sea lions, manatees, crocodiles, fish, string rays, sharks, and turtles. We were able to observe and perform physical exams, ultrasounds and training sessions with dolphins. We also observed a pull for procedure, endoscopy, blood draw and physical exam. I stayed an extra day at one of the facilities and was able to observe and perform physical exams on sea lions, run bloodwork in the lab and participate in training sessions. We were able to interact and observe the manatees during training sessions and also perform physical exams. We learned how to capture and perform physical exams, blood draws, digital sex identification, injections and weighing procedures for salt water crocodiles. We also worked with hatchling crocodiles to monitor growth measurements, do physical exams and perform sex identification. I performed my first ever anesthetic procedure on a fish including a physical exam, gill and scale biopsies and a blood draw. We did physical exams and blood draws on sting rays. I was able to capture, perform physical exam and draw blood on a sea turtle. I also participated in necropsies of both sting rays and sea turtles. We were able to do an interaction program with nurse sharks and observe and perform physical exams on the sharks.
The lectures included in this workshop were very well done. I learned a lot about a diverse range of species. The professors and clinicians that lectured are experts in the field and are incredibly knowledgeable about the animals that they work with. I was very impressed with the wide knowledge base that I gained in just 2 weeks.
Some of the connections that I have made through this workshop I know will last a very long time. I made connections with clinicians already working in their field which I aspire to work in, with fellow students that have similar goals as me and also trainers and keepers that work in the facilities that we visited. These connections are a very valuable part of my experience!
If I could improve the workshop I would add in a little more practical experience with pinnipeds. However, I think that the workshop overall is an amazing experience. It is certainly one that I will always cherish and the knowledge that I gained during my two weeks in Mexico is invaluable. I not only learned about veterinary medicine but also about conservation, Mexican culture and aquatic facility management and productions. I am very grateful to the International Externship Scholarship committee for allowing me this opportunity. I would recommend this program for anyone interested in aquatic animal medicine!