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What is a “VMD?”

July 18, 2015
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University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

This Maine Coon cat I am holding in my arms weighs 24 pounds (12 kg)

Doc Truli with Maine Coon Patient

A veterinarian graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (“Penn Vet”) receives a Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris degree, or VMD. It is Latin for a veterinary medical doctor.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has been discovering, defining and inventing the very definition of what it means to be a veterinarian in the United States since 1884. The foundation and perspective provided by an education from a top veterinary college benefits your pet in incalculable ways.

Why Is a “VMD” Potentially Better?

Many “firsts” in the world happened at Penn. The specialties of veterinary ophthalmology, oncology and equine orthopedic surgery were invented at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital is one of the United States’ busiest veterinary teaching hospitals, with close to 33,000 small animal patient visits each year, 13,000 of which are emergency cases. 

Vaccine Associated Fibrosarcoma

Imagine the rare and unusual diseases and conditions the students at Penn Vet see every day. Instead of 5 students discussing 2 or 3 critical care cases, we discussed 20 a week or more. Our teachers were the best in the world. Dr. Mattie Hendrick taught Doc Truli pathology. Why is this special? Did you hear about how sometimes certain vaccines can cause a cat to grow a cancer tumor at the vaccine injection site? Guess who discovered it? Yes, Doc Truli’s teacher, Dr. Hendrick. So when a client says to Doc Truli, “THEY discovered vaccine tumors,” Doc says, “my professor Dr. Hendrick is the “they” you heard about.” Day after day, for many hours, we worked side by side in the laboratory.

Feline Blood Types

Did you know that cats have blood types? You know, humans have A, B, O, AB and rhesus negative or positive? Well, cats have their own system and the wrong blood type in a transfusion could kill your cat in minutes. Why do we know this? Because of Dr. Urs Giger. Dr. Giger taught Doc Truli hematology at Penn Vet. Dr. Giger also happens to adore cats. He loves cats so much, he obtained funding to run his hematology lab specifically to research cats. Thank goodness Dr. Giger is fanatical about cats or the world may never have found out about cat blood types: A, B, and AB.

Barbaro’s Surgeon Taught Doc Truli

The clinicians and researchers at Penn Vet share teaching responsibilities. For example, Barbaro’s surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, taught Doc Truli horse surgery.

“I was so nervous to assist Dr. Richardson. He is known as a great teacher, but he is famous! I remember, we were removing a fibroid growth from a white pet horse’s front leg. The skin needed to stretch to close the incision. Dr. Richardson asked me for one centimeter stents. (A stent is a little tube we run the suture through, like cushioning, so the suture does not directly cut into the skin on a tight wound closure.) So I took the scalpel blade handle, which had a centimeter ruler on it, and I measured one centimeter stents.”

“What are you doing?” said Dr. Richardson, the world-famous surgeon.

“Making one centimeter stents,” said Doc Truli, still a student and first time in horse operating room.

“I didn’t mean exactly one centimeter,” said Dr. Richardson.

“Well, with me assisting you, you get what you asked for!” said Doc Truli.

“Students,” said Dr. Richardson.

Fanconi-Like Toxicity from Chicken Jerky Treats

Doc Truli says, “My experience being taught by scientists who also treat referral patients from around the world is invaluable in my everyday practice. When I saw a 35 pound (17 kg) spitz dog with a rare kidney disorder resembling Fanconi syndrome, I called an internal medicine specialist immediately. I explained the history and the symptoms. I mentioned my patient ate “chicken jerky treats.”

The specialist said, “we’ve had 4 other cases in the past 5 days and we did not ask what they had eaten. I’m going to check that.” They all had chicken jerky treats from China. Cooper City Veterinary Specialists in South Florida published the discovery of another  kind of kidney failure chicken jerky treats from China were causing in our pets. Would I have known to collaborate with the specialist and collate the information effectively without my Penn Vet background? I’ll never know. It’s just what I do every day for every patient.

Do you want your pet to be treated by a person who read about the problem in a book, or by someone who was personally taught by the discoverer of the problem? Do you want a vet that follows what the specialists say and what the textbook protocol is only, or do you want a vet with the knowledge and experience to know if your pet has something rare, or something new? If I can have the best, I want the best.

The Only Veterinary School Developed in Association with a Medical School: So What?

Veterinary medicine in America used to be a trade. Trimming horse hooves, drenching cows, skills that farm managers typically delegate to farm hands today. Penn Vet never thought that way.  Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school.  The medical college at UPenn sits a few blocks down Spruce Street from the veterinary school. They co-evolved over the years until today, they are members of the One Health Initiative linking human, animal, and environmental health. “But that was 1884,” you say. Well, yes. Doc Truli explains how the unique relationship of Penn Vet at UPenn Med directly allowed her to help research dog brain cancer cures.

Safety and Transduction of a Herpes Virus in Dog Brain

“As a Penn Vet student, I was selected for a prestigious Merck Research Fellowship studying a herpes virus as a backbone – or vector – to deliver a unique brain cancer treatment into dog brain cancer,” says Doc Truli. The research took place at Penn Vet, Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania Medical College. “The Wistar Institute had the DNA laboratory. The medical school had an awesome machine shop where we could make a metal-free stereotactic unit to hold and measure exactly where we were in the dogs’ brains (like a frame to hold the head) and the magnetic resonance imaging (MR) facility. Penn Vet had the dogs and the surgery suite and the – well, frankly – the funding from a research grant to make it all possible,” says Doc Truli.

“I could have a breakfast meeting at PennVet with the leading dog genetics and neurosurgery experts, then lunch at Wistar where they taught me how to use fluorescent labeling to mark the DNA and then walk to the medical college for a meeting about the technical difficulties making holders for different sized dog heads (they are not similar like human heads.)”

“I can tell you- I was struck by all the marble and brass in the medical college! We do not have fancy building materials like that at the veterinary college,” says Doc Truli.

The collaboration and geographic proximity of the medical and veterinary colleges and unique world-class institutes like the Wistar Institute and the Philadelphia Monell Chemical Senses Center make ideas and initiatives flow. “I collaborate with world-class specialists to benefit my patients to this day,” says Doc Truli.

Teaching, Research and Clinical Care Under One Roof

We held this short hair cobby cat on his side and felt in front of his pelvis for his bladder

Fantastic Exotic Shorthair cat submits to a cystocentesis procedure

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has been discovering, defining and inventing the very definition of what it means to be a veterinarian in the United States since 1884. The unique geographic convenience of top research institutions in West Philadelphia generate opportunities such as Doc Truli’s brain cancer research. The generous case-load of primary and referral patients from Philadelphia and the surrounding states provides patients to study and heal. The New Bolton Center large animal hospital has treated the most famous horses in the world, including Barbaro and Annihilator. The mission of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine to bring Specialty practice to the profession started in the 1940’s and continues today. This school generates unparalleled scientists and clinicians.

Doc Truli is a VMD

So what is a VMD? Doc Truli is a VMD. Your pet will enjoy top world-class care and treatment with Doc Truli.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2015 2:14 am

    Wow, I just totally got cut off mid sentence. LOL That was strange. Anyway, I was living in the Sierra Foothills for 11 years and I had a holistic vet there that I really trusted but then I moved to Sacramento and I have had 4 different vets over the last 2 years. The latest one is Dr. Irene Fujishima Nakaoka, DVM, Diplomate, ABVP (Feline Practice) and I think I like her but I am getting ready to move to Newberg, Oregon from California and I get to start my search for a new vet all over again. No fun.
    It’s difficult to find someone that you can trust now a days. Maybe being a tech for so long I may hold them at a different standard but I think it’s more about what my gut tells me than anything.
    I already know that would trust you because you clearly are looking out for the animals. You have no idea how much I use this site as a reference for so many situations. I appreciate all that you do for us. I really wish I lived closer to you.

    • November 22, 2015 1:32 pm

      Thank you for the positive feedback! I’m writing to try and help as many people around the world as I can.

      Tampa Bay Area, Florida is beautiful. But, boy, I love Oregon, too! Good luck in your new location.

      Doc Truli

  2. August 30, 2015 1:53 am

    If I lived closer to you I would bring my animals to see you in a minute. I use to work as a technician for many years. I have had the opportunity to work for a couple of different Vets but none with your passion. If I had worked for someone like you I would probably still be working as a tech. Not all vets are made of the same stuff that’s for sure.
    I rescue cats and I manage ferals so I end up spending quite a bit of time at the veterinarian

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