The car was swerving slightly as we were speeding around a corner just before the worn suspension was hitting another pothole…..
I leaned back into one of the rear seats having long ago resigned myself to fate and to the driving skills of Lea Kreszinger, my friend and colleague from Zagreb. With us in the car was Siraya Chunekamrai from Thailand, the current President of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association who was busy touring Europe.
Over the last few days we had visited Split on the Dalmatian Coast and got lost in the forests of the Plitvice National Park on a whistle stop tour of Croatia.
I considered myself very lucky not only for leaving the driving to Lea, but also for the opportunity to spend a few days together with these two remarkable colleagues who I hadn’t seen for over 2 years, other than as interviewees at FECAVA VetChat.
Our destination today was the vet school of Zagreb where Lea had arranged a tour of the clinical departments and our journey was just interrupted by a brief visit at the Macola road side restaurant
which is famous in Croatia not only for good local food and its somewhat eccentric owner, but also for the largest collection of stuffed local bears which would easily rival that of the National History Museum (but don’t worry – there are still a lot of them remaining in the mountains of the former Yugoslavia….).
Still with time to spare we arrive at the faculty where we were greeted by the senior lecturers of the internal medicine department.
What followed was a detailed tour of the surgical, the reproductive and the internal medicine clinics of the university.
Dividing the case load like this is dating back to the teaching of veterinary medicine during the Habsburg Empire and the system can also be found at the vet schools of Munich and Vienna. While being suitable for the treatment of Human patients, this system in a veterinary context is requiring a more complex housing of patients (all species under one roof) and a fair amount of running for the emergency vets who have to attend to patients of the same species but in different buildings.
The alternative to this are species specific clinics – something I am more familiar with from my own Alma Mater in Hanover and from the British vet schools.
The facilities we were shown were spacious and although housed in some older (in fact listed) buildings, they were surprisingly modern, organised and they provided a great environment for both students and clinical staff to attend to their patients.
Like many other vet schools these days, Zagreb too is trying to improve their funding by providing a English spoken course for paying students from abroad. Considering the location of Croatia in Europe and having enjoyed the restaurants and the nightlife of Zagreb myself in the past, I could think of a few worse places to study veterinary medicine….
As always with visits like this I came across a pretty clever idea with a practical application for day to day companion animal practice – an inventive soul had constructed an ultrasound table out of a steel frame and a mesh of car safety belts to allow cardiac ultrasonography.
The norm is a plank of wood or thick plastic with a cut out triangle with the inherent problem that very small patients might fall through it…..
This alternative design struck me as rather ingenious and I might consider now raiding the local scrap yard for old safety belts.
Our visit concluded with an inspiring exchange of ideas over coffee and chocolates before the road was taking us to another veterinary institution…..