Entries in SAVMA Personal Development Fund (1)


South African Externship

Submitted by Whitney Brown from Ross University

This past April I was fortunate enough to participate in an externship with SA WorldVets in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Working with Dr. Chris Boshoff and his assistant Yke Osmers in the field and Dr. Nina Boshoff in the community was an exceptional experience. Not only did I get the opportunity to learn the intimate details of wildlife medicine and see, first hand, what grueling, skilled, and rewarding work it is, I also got to connect with the community in a meaningful way. This was especially felt during the small animal outreach day working in local communities. Overall, the passion and care of owners and vets for animals both large and small bred in me an even greater excitement and passion for veterinary medicine and all its facets.

Wading through the tall grass at sunset to dart impalas and nyalas was certainly memorable, yet experiencing the nuances of different cultures had a lasting effect on me. It will absolutely affect my practice of veterinary medicine as well. As a veterinarian, getting to know and understand the community you serve is a fundamental part of providing veterinary care to our animal patients. During my time in South Africa, I began to realize that as we travel, we often seek to understand the history of a place, especially if it is a place of personal ancestral importance. We grasp for the connection to our ancestors and the history of the land. However, what is ultimately found is a connection with those who call it home. We hold on to the past in a hope to understand ourselves, but it is truly the new connections and relationships formed that shape us. We craft our life story, and those we come into contact with mark the pages of our tome. May we not be bound by geography, color, or creed as we explore the world and discover ourselves. Likewise, may the people we meet and the experiences we have, be used to mold us into more understanding and welcoming veterinarians. As we share our stories, we will hopefully see the beauty in both our commonalities and differences.