Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04
Felicia Lew ('12) in Malaysia
Performing surgery by the light of cell phones would be unthinkable to most people, but that was just part of the experience of an externship to Malaysia for Felicia Lew (DVM '12), a recent Susan Bradish Travel Grant recipient.
During Lew’s externship, she and the rest of a surgical team were preparing a pet chicken for surgery. Just as they were about to insert a breathing tube, the power went out. Quickly the team had to improvise.
"Everyone was a little stunned at first, but then they just kept working," Lew said. "Everyone had a cell phone on them, so we all whipped out our phones and tried to light the airway enough to put the tube in."
Lew said that no one panicked, but she isn’t sure what they would have done if the power did not come back after about ten minutes. During her externship, Lew worked in very different veterinary conditions, but she said that the experience was extremely valuable.
"International externships give students opportunities to gain experience when they wouldn’t otherwise," Lew said. "It exposes them to other cultures, and makes them adapt to new situations."
She explained that one major difference is that many diagnoses in the United States are made by using a simple blood test, but that is not available to many people in Malaysia. Instead, they often treat animals without a definitive diagnosis.
"A lot of clients can’t afford testing, so many diagnoses came from guessing based on symptoms," Lew said. "It was good to work with them to see how they work with less."
Lew said that the travel grant made this externship possible because it helped with travel expenses.
The Susan Bradish Travel Grant is awarded to WSU veterinary students who are interested in gaining veterinary experience abroad, preferably to developing countries. It assists students with $1,000 for externships that are at least three weeks long and include on-site veterinary work. Students must also be active members of the WSU International Veterinary Student Association. Lew was the IVSA president for 2010-2011 school year.
Susan Bradish (DVM ’97), a veterinarian in Nicholasville, Kentucky, started this grant to help students gain an understanding of the daily challenges people face in most of the world. Bradish herself spent four weeks in India during veterinary school. She found that the culture was wonderful, but realized how fewer resources can affect the daily lives of the people. Because she wants more students to gain this type of international experience, she assists them with their expenses by offering this grant.