Vet graduates

Vet graduates of 1988 during a lecture on aging gracefully on December 11, 2021 at the Maanzoni Lodge.

| Joseph Mugachia I Nation Media Group

What they don’t teach at vet school

What you need to know:

  • One thing I know about my classmates is that we had very close ties throughout our training.
  • The class has been very active in the leadership of the veterinary profession over the years

The article last week of my BVM Class 88 graduates raised a lot of interest from readers. We met early this month at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos after 33 years since graduation.

Many wondered what had brought the vet doctors together after close to one generation. Others said the initiative should be replicated by graduates of other years and disciplines.

One thing I know about my classmates is that we had very close ties throughout our training. The class has been very active in the leadership of the veterinary profession over the years. While in college, we organised class tours to various parts of the country. 

Majority of the readers asked me to share some of the experiences of the doctors. Others wanted to know what lessons the elderly vets could pass onto younger colleagues and generally, the younger generation.

We decided to put science aside and share life experiences as we had encountered them. My experience comes first because it happened with my first posting. I looked at the posting list and did not wish to go to Lamu. It was far and sounded strange.

I requested the Director of Veterinary Services (DVS), then Dr Wamukoya, to give me a friendly posting since I had a good rapport with him. He looked at the list, then faced me squarely and asked me to show him which was the friendly station and which of my classmates I wanted to get posted to the unfriendly station.

I got the message and confirmed to him I would be in Lamu the following day. He congratulated me for making the right decision and told me that from then on, I could only talk to him through the reporting line starting with my immediate superior.

Remote station

I had learnt my first lesson; that I graduated to serve the country, be fair to others and that in employment, there was a chain of command to be followed and respected. That day-one employment encounter made me a stickler of protocol to date, with no regrets.

My roommate Muriuki was sent to Ganze in Kilifi. It was a very remote station at the time. One morning he got into the pit toilet. He had just squatted when a venomous snake dropped right in front of him from the roof. His biology and training immediately took over. 

The great hormone adrenaline shut down his bowels and bladder as he stared at the reptile. Any false move would have ended his life. He remembered to stay rock-still and avoid eye contact with the reptile. 
It struggled up the wall after several attempts and disappeared out through the roof.

As he watched the tail vanish, he could not even recall what had taken him to that small cubicle. That is how effective adrenaline is in shutting down non-essential body functions during times of severe danger.

Mary reported at a parastatal in Naivasha and she could not stand the malpractices there. She was shocked that money would be disbursed to the institution and the staff would just share it out in fictitious expenditure. She questioned the practice and became the victim of fighting corruption. 

She was reminded she was just a young girl who should not be looking for trouble. She quit the job and to a great extent changed her profession. She took up life-skills training instead.

Then there was Lucy who was posted to one of the animal health and industry training institutes (Ahiti). She was and is still one of the class comedians. Jokes, laughter and a likeable personality exude from her so naturally you wold think she never cries.

Veterinary services

We were never taught the method and practice of teaching, technically called pedagogy, at university and there was no induction at the training institutes. Lucy and others did the training the best way they thought it should be done. She made students laugh throughout her lectures but the institute head would never agree that serious teaching could be achieved with such laughter.

We all know most scientists have stone faces. The principal warned Lucy that she had to become “serious” or get fired. It reached a point where she would cry every time after leaving the laughing students because she would immediately walk into the principal’s tongue-lashing. 

She opted to leave teaching and get into mainstream government veterinary services for the farming communities, where she excels to date. The farmers were really happy with the laughing doctor.

Joseph Nginyi has had it fairly smooth from the start at the premier Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro). He has, over the years, distinguished himself as a globally renowned livestock parasites researcher.

BVM Class 88 concluded that there will always be variable challenges throughout the course of employment and life in general. 

Everyone must be prepared to understand their operating environment and seek knowledge and expertise to help them evolve to surmount the challenges. 

They were, however, in agreement that pedagogy should be taught in all university disciplines because a university graduate in any field will, one time or another, find themselves teaching and training other people. 

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