Iowa State students prepare to host 500 future veterinarians in Ames, March 21-23

APVMA co-chairs

National pre-veterinary medicine symposium leaders, from left, Kesley Aarsvold, Kimberly Strait and Miranda Buseman. Photo by Bob Elbert.

AMES, Iowa -- Just when most Iowa State University students return from their spring break adventures, one dedicated student group will be putting the finishing touches on its own adventure right here in Ames — organizing and hosting a national symposium for 500 future veterinarians.

For the ISU Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club, the weekend of March 21-23 is the culmination of two years of coordinating, meeting, scheduling, confirming, reserving, promoting and passing the hat for the 2014 American Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association (APVMA) Symposium.

During the annual three-day event, prospective veterinary students come together to learn about the field of veterinary medicine through lectures, hands-on labs and speaking with representatives from veterinary schools. It's an opportunity to network, experience a bit of their future careers and hear about specific veterinary medicine programs.

Symposium chair Miranda Buseman, senior in animal science from Waterloo, figures she's earned "about a million course credits" leading the symposium planning efforts with co-chairs Kesley Aarsvold, senior in animal science and microbiology from Kasson, Minn., and Kimberly Strait, sophomore in dairy science from Preston.

More than two years ago, Buseman met with ISU's Lisa Nolan, Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Veterinary Medicine, and club advisers (Matthew Ellinwood, animal science associate professor; Joan Howard, Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center clinician; and Eric Rowe, biomedical sciences associate professor) to develop ISU's proposal to host the 2014 symposium. One of two proposals presented and voted on at the 2012 symposium in Florida, ISU's proposal was selected. Iowa State last hosted the symposium in 2005.

Buseman, Aarsvold and Strait oversee 20 committee chairs, 45 volunteers and a multitude of details. And they coordinate with the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is handling many of the logistics for the influx of hundreds of college students, some from as far away as Puerto Rico.

The three Iowa State students also have worked closely with the College of Veterinary Medicine where most of the 64 session offerings (32 labs and 32 lectures) will take place. Lab topics include emergency and critical care, equine acupuncture, ophthalmology, pathology, pet animal exotics, production animal handling, swine diagnostics, suture lab and wildlife.

"We tried to work with our strengths," Buseman said. "Because production animal medicine is strong here, we tried to include a lot of topics surrounding it. Some schools don't offer students experience with cows or pigs, for example. We're also offering visits to an alpaca farm, dairy farm and bovine feedlot."

And the lectures offered will go beyond the usual "how to get into vet med school talks," Aarsvold added. Prominent speakers from industry, government and ISU will present topics, including veterinary toxicology, studying chimpanzees in a savannah, animal welfare, zoonotic diseases in a zoo, comparative nutrition, spinal cord injuries in dogs and lameness in cattle and wildlife veterinarian.

Evenings will be filled with banquets, a dance and the Pre-Vet Olympics, which Buseman described as "carnival-like with trivia, anatomy games, charades and an obstacle course." Evening events will be at the Quality Inn and Suites Starlite Village.

Buseman said that the planning committee is still working on hiring extra security, addressing the custodial considerations, finalizing airport transportation, hotel shuttles and other logistical details.

"We have 700 people signed up for lunches, including instructors and volunteers," Buseman said.

Strait, who oversaw fundraising efforts, said the students have raised about $60,000 in sponsor donations. Major sponsors include ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine; Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts; The University of Melbourne, Australia; the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges; The Royal School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The APVMA is a national organization of students that promotes and stimulates interest in the field of veterinary medicine, providing resources and communications to clubs and students. 
ISU's Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club has 250 members.