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The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) students took home first-place honors during the 2019 Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Bovine Palpation Competition held March 9-11, 2019 at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.

The students on the 2019 Penn Vet palpation team included:

  • Jordan Fairman, V’20, Du Bois, Pennsylvania
  • Emily Griswold, V’20, Millerstown, Pennsylvania
  • Karalyn Lonngren, V’19, West Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • Amy Middleton, V’19, Mill Hall, Pennsylvania
  • Michael Topper, V’19, Limington, Maine

The first Penn Vet contingent to ever compete in the national contest, the five-student-team was one of thirteen representing veterinary schools across the United States.

The competition is conducted in three sessions over the course of three days. The first two sessions are comprised of a written exam and a lab practicum covering all aspects of beef and dairy reproduction. Two students from each of the top five teams advance to the final round of competition that tests their palpation skills on live cows.

“We have been preparing for this event since our first year of vet school, spending several hours per month practicing at Marshak Dairy to improve our skills and knowledge of bovine reproduction,” said Griswold, the Bovine Palpation Team captain. “In addition, we have all devoted large portions of our summer breaks to developing our palpation skills by working with bovine veterinarians across the country.”

Bovine palpation is very important to ensuring a healthy cow and calf throughout pregnancy, diagnosing possible infectious or degenerative diseases in cattle, and is an essential component of the services veterinarians offer their producers to improve overall herd health and profitability. Developing this skill requires years of practice to be able to perform safely, accurately, and efficiently.

"As the very first team to represent Penn Vet in this national contest, I could not be more proud of these students and their dedication to growing and developing their skills as future veterinarians,” said Dr. Michael Pesato, a Lecturer and Food Animal Field Service clinician at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center who served as the team’s advisor and coach. “Their success is the direct result of the many hours they have each spent studying, practicing, and preparing for the competition and, more importantly, their careers in food animal practice.”

About Penn Vet:

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,300 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 5,300 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.