AAEP Students Work to Ensure the Health of WEG Equine Athletes

A group of talented fourth-year veterinary students preparing for careers in equine sports medicine are assisting with the care of elite competition horses during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Thirty-three student members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) were selected by their veterinary schools to participate in externships during the Games, held Sept. 25-Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. These high-achieving students are gaining clinical experience in the equine hospital, monitoring biosecurity, responding to ambulatory emergencies, and benefiting from the mentorship of the best sport horse veterinarians in the profession.

One student from each of the AAEP's 36 student chapters was invited to participate in the academic externship. Students were nominated and selected by faculty advisors and AAEP-member mentors at their chapter. Selected participants were evaluated on academic performance, leadership at their veterinary school and a firm commitment to equine sports medicine.

While rotating shifts at designated workstations throughout the Games, students are exposed to essential veterinary care for each of the eight competing equestrian disciplines. In addition, students are required to attend daily lectures to learn about the physical demands and rules for each discipline, common injuries associated with each sport, biosecurity,and regulatory measures, and triage of athletic injuries.

A minimum of two weeks of voluntary service is required to participate in the externship. The program is supervised by A. Kent Allen, DVM, World Equestrian Games veterinary services coordinator, Julia Wilson, DVM, veterinary student team coordinator, and Tracy Turner, DVM, veterinary student team assistant coordinator. The externship will qualify as a complete clinical rotation towards earning a veterinary medical degree.

Students are describing the grandeur of the Games and their daily learning experiences through the AAEP's new blog, "WEG the Tale." From watching famous riders compete in the dressage ring to struggling to communicate about drug regulations across language barriers, the blog provides a glimpse into the veterinary student’s busy schedule during the Games.

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