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Faculty of Veterinary Medicine hosts national symposium

By Jill Girgulis, January 30 2017 —

The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) hosted the 31st annual Students of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA) symposium from Jan. 20–21. The two-day event brought together students from all five veterinary schools across the country.

The symposium included a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) competition, guest lectures, wet labs, tours and a keynote presentation from Colorado State University animal science professor Temple Grandin.

Third-year veterinary medicine student and symposium organizer Sarifa Lakhdhir said the event offered the chance to share what UCVM — Canada’s youngest veterinary school — has to offer.

“I really wanted to just showcase UCVM,” Lakhdhir said. “To me, that meant production animal health — specifically beef because that’s really big to our school. And also our simulators, because a lot of other schools don’t have clinical hands-on simulations.”

Lakhdhir said hosting the symposium required considerable teamwork.

“The biggest thing was that we’re such a small school and even just getting a committee together [was a challenge],” she said. “It doesn’t help when we also had all these other things that our [class] was responsible for, and so I think a lot of people were just burnt out.”

Formed in 2008, the U of C’s veterinary medicine program accepts approximately 30 students each year.

Ontario Veterinary College student Louise Lam attended the symposium this year and helped plan the 2016 event. She believes that the annual gathering is extremely valuable for veterinary medicine students.

“I feel like any university can put together resources to do lectures and wet labs, but to share experiences at another university and network with all the other students going through the same type of program and the same types of hardships is something you can’t do on your own,” she said.

For Lam, one of the weekend’s pleasant surprises was a trip down memory lane. On the symposium’s final night, attendees looked back at when UCVM first opened its doors to students in 2008.

“Being in an already well-established program myself, I couldn’t imagine how being the first ever class in a veterinary school would feel like,” Lam said.

Despite only graduating its first class in 2012, the U of C’s veterinary medicine program has evolved quickly. UCVM dean Baljit Singh considers ongoing renovations to the Clinical Skills Building a good sign.

“To outgrow the facilities that have been built tells you that we have been growing at a very fast pace,” Singh said.

Singh also said hosting the SCVMA symposium highlights the value of students coming together in the veterinary medicine community.

“The future of everybody — of each of us — is only in a minor way defined by the diploma that we carry. It is largely defined by the people that we know,” he said.

Next year’s SCVMA symposium will be held at the Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

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