National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City

Kristin Claricoates, Class of  2013

UNAM is the AVMA approved school in Mexico City.  For students daring enough to practice their medical Spanish, this is an excellent school to visit and stay for a summer or for a few rotations during fourth year.  While it may not have neurology or cardiology specialties, let’s be honest… practicing medical Spanish will be challenging enough!  Some of the more likely areas students would like to study in would be equine medicine, small animal medicine, exotic animal, poultry, swine, or avian medicine.  As I have a strong interest in exotic animal medicine and did not know much about pet birds, I decided to study at the Hospital de Aves, or bird hospital during my 6 week professional development period.  During this time, I performed basic chores such as cleaning cages and giving food to the birds.  Additional daily tasks included daily treatments of the birds in the clinic and taking clinical histories from clients who came for consults.  I had several of my own patients, and when clients came to visit their birds, as the doctor on the case, I would update owners to the condition of their bird and any new developments.  Throughout my time at the bird hospital, I was given tours of all of the remaining 14 buildings at the veterinary hospital of UNAM.  Additionally, I was allowed the opportunity to take avian medicine classes with Dr. Morales and practice surgical techniques and necropsies.  The most challenging part of this experience will be to perform all medical tasks expected of you at any veterinary hospital and to communicate them with owners fluently in Spanish.  This is an excellent opportunity for anyone, and is a definite skill set that is invaluable in large cities or in areas where the Latino population is prevalent.  What I found to be most interesting at my stay at the bird hospital is that while the clinic knows the treatments for birds that we are accustomed to, sometimes the drugs were not available or too expensive to feasibly afford.  As such, the clinic is resourceful enough to find alternative medical treatments that suffice until the drugs become available to Mexico.  Additionally, the UNAM avian hospital has a board-certified avian veterinarian.  This is a great time to be had by anyone willing to undertake this excellent and challenging learning experience.