“NIP It In The Bud”

Now I’m really dating myself. For those of you who read that title and it rang a bell (likely a very dusty memory way back) “Nip it in the bud,” was a favorite saying of Barney Fife, Deputy of Mayberry on the old Andy Griffith Show. (And yes I did really grow up about 25 miles from Pilot Mtn, NC; it’s not known as “Mount Pilot”).

Barney was trying to stop a problem before it got started. But in our case I’m trying to get somethings to bud. “NIP” is my acronym for New Intern Program. And in some punny way, it stuck in my head this morning that the notion might attract a few folks’ attention and thoughts.

NIP, and I think a better name is in order, is an idea that evolved from some conversations with folks in an attempt to bring people into the world of public health, regulatory medicine, livestock production, and any other aspect of The One Health Initiative and educating the American public on food and fiber production. My goals with it are:

  • develop personnel for the future
  • build interest in folks for animal agriculture & public health careers
  • convey the importance of veterinary & vet-public-health work
  • help cover some bases internally at least intermittently

The general plan is to involve a lot of partners:

  • Vets (DVM/VMDs – btw did you know that some vets were “Very Mean Doctors”?)
  • VDL/PHL (Veterinary Diagnostic Lab & Public Health Lab)
  • DHS (AZ Dept of Health Services)
  • NGOs (non-governmental organizations)
  • SVO (us – the state vet’s office)

And the basic methodology is to “Ride the Trail” (aka have the intern shadow various mentors as they perform their duties while following a given issue from “Farm to Fork”.) This way not only does the intern get to see all the parts of the system. But also they’re better able to grasp the big picture and how all the pieces fit together.

A good example is the Public Health Trail (e.g. West Nile Virus) where ideally the intern would:

  • ride with vet to observe field work/situation
  • draw blood on neurological horse
  • then follow sample to lab to observe lab prep & work
  • observe the actual analysis for WNV antibodies (at VDL)
  • get a sampling of Quality Assurance aspects of data & reporting
  • travel with the results to an epidemiologist to observe how data is interpreted and assessed
  • follow the data through its recording/tracking/review/analysis with various administrative folks and subject matter experts (SMEs) maybe even with the IT folks (as health IT systems and their integration is a huge aspect of modern public health)
  • with the WNV trail, the intern would also have the opportunity to shadow the bug control folks as they mitigate risk to the public
  • by learning the products and techniques for reducing mosquitoes in neighborhood
  • the last phase would be to spend some time with Public Information Officer-type folks to see importance of accurately developing and disseminating to the public what’s being done and why

Given where we stand today, that’s ambitious. But unless you’re facing a situation where your opposition is riding Shetland Ponies, you ought not aim low!

Our first candidate showed up yesterday morning about 8:30. She had the opportunity to show up with a Livestock Inspector on his first call this morning  at 6:15 somewhere about a half-hour drive from where she’s staying. I hope she got on board for the first stop!