Veterinary students from Iowa State University participated in the Individual Pig Care training/certification program, which focused on the identification of sick pigs and communication skills.

The March 26 event, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, taught students how flexing to behavioral tendencies and experience levels can enhance communication. They then used these skills to communicate their observations on husbandry practices to caregivers. "We had the opportunity to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it in a pig production setting, doing health assessments and incorporating communication skills based on various personality types to ensure that protocols are followed," said Chase Stahl, third-year veterinary student at Iowa State and president of the school's AASV student chapter.

Another part of the Individual Pig Care training/certification program allowed students to walk through the pig barn and learn how to identify pigs at different stages of sickness and then report their observations in a role-play exercise. "We learned a lot about how to find sick pigs at the onset of disease and then were able to do one of the hardest things, practice communicating those observations to others in the operation," said Stahl. "With the role-play exercise, we were able to facilitate our observations using different communication styles and get feedback from experienced veterinarians. It was a great learning experience."

Faculty of Iowa State and Pfizer Animal Health veterinarians assisted students with sick pig identification, conducted communication practice sessions and provided feedback on the students' observations after each session.