In the summer of 2007, I was the fortunate recipient of the Kitao Family International Externship Award, which helps a senior student to experience veterinary medicine overseas as a preceptor. I spent three weeks at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Hospital Clinic Veterinari, in Barcelona, Spain, and was graciously offered a room to stay with veterinary students in a flat in the heart of this incredible city.
The Hospital is one of the top small animal clinics in Spain and perhaps Europe. As at Oklahoma State University (OSU), there were numerous European- and American-board certified specialists (e.g., Neurology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Exotics and Theriogenology). Digital radiography, ultrasound and CT imaging modalities were available in house, and MR's were done at a hospital in Barcelona, similar to OSU. Services were available 24 hours, and the ICU was staffed by interns and students.
Along with these overnight shifts, I rotated and thus spent one week in Internal Medicine, one in Surgery and one week in Neurology. I was fortunate to see amazing cases in all the rotations and to work with fantastic veterinarians. As a result of my experiences, I not only strengthened my medical Spanish terminology, but also presented at Grand Rounds over Leishmaniasis, which is commonly found in the Mediterranean Basin.
Barcelona, most especially the area where the hospital was located, was a Leishmania "hot spot." The internists provided me with numerous case files, which I presented to our class upon my return.
As you can see in the pictures, there were many people and patients I enjoyed and learned from. However, my favorite involved “Bob,” an Australian cattle dog/Lab mix.
Bob’s owners were on holiday from Australia and spoke almost no Spanish. During a festival night with fireworks going off all over the city, he freaked out and threw himself off the third floor balcony of their flat. He completely shattered several bones and required extensive orthopedic and abdominal surgery. When his owner realized that I was a student from the U.S., his teary request was, “Please, talk to Bob in English. He doesn’t know any Spanish and is so frightened.”
I think we, as veterinarians, can make such a difference in both animals’ and owners’ lives no matter where in the world we may be!
This was truly the experience of a lifetime and could not have been made possible without this scholarship, for which I will always be very grateful! I have made colleagues and friends for a lifetime. I eagerly await the day I can visit the Hospital and Barcelona once again! Thanks, again, for this opportunity!
In 1992, Takashi (Toc-a-she) Kitao (Kit-ah-o) traveled from his home in Japan to do post graduate clinical training at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. His parents, Yoko and Satoshi (Sa-toe-she) Kitao, were so appreciative that their son was able to come to OSU to study and learn more about clinical veterinary practice, they established the Kitao Family Endowment for International Study. The endowed scholarship provides an opportunity for a fourth-year veterinary student to study small animal medicine in an international externship for up to six weeks.