When Dr. Roeland Wessels of Nijmergen, Netherlands was selected to travel to Tokyo last year as part of the Merck Animal Health NOBIVAC Global Vet Exchange Program, he was not quite sure what to expect once he arrived at his host clinic in Japan. Yet after just one day visiting with the team at the Fujii-Vets Clinic, Dr. Wessels felt right at home.
“Our veterinary practices are more than 10,000 kilometers apart,” wrote Dr. Wessels in a blog post summarizing the first day of the trip. “But after only one day in Japan, it feels like my own place.”
This year, the NOBIVAC Global Vet Exchange will send 24 veterinarians from China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States to visit each other’s clinics, broadening their perspectives and closing communication gaps in global animal healthcare.
“The NOBIVAC Global Vet Exchange is an incredible opportunity for international collaboration,” said Dr. Eleonor Shelburne from Northampton Veterinary Clinic, a participant in the program from Northampton, MA, USA. “I look forward to discovering the similarities and differences between my host clinic and my own practice, and believe the experience will spark important discussions that can benefit both.”
To share the conversation, participating veterinarians will submit videos capturing insights about what they learned and how they plan to improve their own practices. The videos will be posted online for veterinarians around the world on vetexchange.nobivac.com.
Launching a Global Conversation
During their stay in the host country, the Global Vet Exchange participants are encouraged to work with their international counterparts to discuss all aspects of veterinary practice, from training employees to patient safety to comparing the type of lab tests and imaging services offered. They will explore how companion animals are viewed in each other’s culture, including breed size and customs such as pets living indoors or owners accompanying patients in the examination room. Each vet team will also examine infectious disease, comparing the different diseases present in each geographic area and noting the efforts each clinic uses to control, prevent and treat them.
Dr. Patrick Warpinski of Green Bay, Wisc. traveled last year to China and achieved his personal goal of learning more about how the veterinarians, staff and clients interacted during exams. “I was able to observe procedures not often practiced in my home clinic and learn new approaches to staff structure and patient management that will impact my clinic in the States.”
Dr. Wessels also enjoyed the opportunity to be immersed in the Fujii-Vets Clinic in Japan.
“What struck me was the amazing openness and trust of all staff members, from the moment I came in,” said Dr. Wessels. “I was allowed to see, ask and do everything. I really appreciate this collegial transparency—it enables you to be on the same level from the start and makes the communication more rewarding and sincere.”
United by a Common Calling
Veterinarians around the world are uniquely united in their mission to care for animals. The Exchange aims to allow selected veterinarians to work together, despite global differences, toward their common goal of improving animal health.
“The bottom line is that we have the same problems to solve on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Dr. Paul Gambardella, a veterinarian in Wallingford, Conn. who traveled to the United Kingdom with the Exchange. “And through the Exchange, I learned about different solutions. I met some good people, made some great new friends and learned a lot about the state of veterinary care in the U.K. I am very grateful to Merck for this wonderful opportunity.”
Dr. Wessels also found the experience to be rewarding.
“In the almost twenty years that I’ve been a veterinarian, this was absolutely one of the most remarkable weeks in my professional career,” he said. “My number one observation from my week in Japan would be that we are more similar than we are different, because our profession is the same – it’s all about the bond between animals and humans.”
To learn more about the NOBIVAC Global Vet Exchange or to learn how you can participate in the exchange, visit vetexchange.nobivac.com.