The lessons I learned teaching student veterinarians
Helping teach the next generation of animal health professionals is a mutual learning experience, writes Marcin Kocik, Regional Technical Dairy Consultant for Central Eastern Europe and Russia.

As part of my job, I regularly have the opportunity to engage with groups of young people whose future careers will be closely connected to animal husbandry.

I relish each of these experiences, which remind me of the importance of sharing our knowledge now, so we help educate the farmers and veterinarians of the future. Recently, I visited a secondary vocational School in Ostrolęka in the North Eastern part of Poland. Here, 14 and 15 year-old boys and girls have the opportunity to study for a zoo technical diploma.

Each year agricultural and veterinary schools attend across the country attend a competition, which is fiercely contested.

Due to Elanco’s long-standing relationship with this school, I was asked to give a lecture at the event on current and future challenges for veterinarians, reduction of antibiotic use in livestock and the industry’s ongoing efforts to improve animal welfare.

Some of these students will likely continue their veterinary education at university, while others will run farms in the area which themselves are vital to Polish milk production.

But because their careers will be grounded in animal husbandry, and they know they will shape the future of their home town, the level of engagement from these youngsters was palpable.

They were all hungry for practical knowledge and wanted to learn about trends in the livestock sector, which will shape the way they care for animal health in future.

At another occasion, in Krakow at the first Student Buiatric Conference, I gave a lecture as part of the Young Veterinarian Programme about energy deficit and immune suppression in dairy cows to some 250 students, who had come from all over Poland to attend the conference.

These students are already further into their studies, and will soon graduate from veterinary universities to start their work in the animal health sector. It was inspiring to observe those young people who participated in the event. They had given up their free time in great numbers on a Saturday afternoon to further develop their skills. Their passion, commitment and hunger for more knowledge was so motivating.

It is clear to me that engaging in educational activities is of mutual benefit. For those students, learning practical information is more than simply a lesson to study – it provides essential knowledge to shape their outlook when they’re choosing a future career.

At the same time, at Elanco Animal Health we can show our commitment to sharing our expertise and helping train the veterinarians of tomorrow. Finally, on a personal level it reminds me of my own studies, which was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life!

If you ever have the opportunity to engage with young people on a similar level, I strongly encourage you to try it. You certainly won’t regret it!

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