The Internet is Awesome. And Unawesome. Mostly Awesome.

Great question from my friend Dr. Judy Provo-Klimek, anatomy professor at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine…
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Friends that are practicing vets…are you feeling more pressure to keep up with scientific literature now, because your clients have access to more information via the internet? Please comment. It’s an aspect I had not considered in preparation for a paper I’m going to write on teaching vet students to evaluate scientific literature.
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I was reading right along, enjoying everyone’s answers, when I got called on by the teacher.
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So I said this…
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No. If clients bring me specific internet info, we go from there together – confirm or refute and learn together. That has opened up avenues of learning I might not have pursued, and a few times put me steps ahead of where I would have been in my learning. Yeah, there’s a lot of trash on the internet, but there is some really awesome info too. As docs, we have the smarts and the veterinary background to help clients wade through that. And to write some of it. ;)
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Example 1 – My friend Leda asked me years ago if the combination of enrofloxacin and doxycycline might be more effective than enrofloxacin alone in treating bacterial infections secondary to mycoplasmosis in rats. I read the stack of information she had gathered from the internet, and have not stopped reading since. Also, my survival rates in rat patients with respiratory disease has gone up. (Thank you Leda!!)
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Example 2 – My friend Jana asked me how antibiotics work. After seriously 20 hours of research and 20 hours of writing and rewriting, I sent her this. I even get it a bit more.
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Example 3 – My friend Lorie Huston DVM had the same idea I did, only earlier, and she is MUCH better and MUCH more prolific in her writing than I! If there’s trash on the internet, quit b(ellyaching) about it and write the opposite! Now there is good veterinary info out there too. You gotta look for it, but if you have a vet who’s awesome, they’ll help you find Lorie’s stuff and the other great info available. Don’t miss it (vets and laypeople), because there is WAY more on the internet than you could ever fit in a journal or textbook. It just is not as “pure” – you need to know how to find it – or team up with a vet who will help you find it.
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Example 4 – I was writing a weekly vet column for the awesome website Life with Dogs. I wrote an article on Addison’s disease, was found by the Addison’s Facebook group who asked if they could use it (of course!) and got to know the group. Do you know what an incredible perspective it gives me to hear day to day struggles and triumphs from a pool of 6000 Addison dog families?? To see blood work results on dog after dog and hear how they are adjusting medicine doses (with their vets of course!) I am learning every day, when in Real Life, I see an Addisonian patient every few weeks at most. And to see the pictures of their cute dogs enjoying life – that one is harder to explain, but I think those pictures and stories give me a depth to my interactions with my handful of Addisonion families that I would not otherwise have.
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So, anyways…in my opinion, which I think may differ from MOST of my awesome colleagues’ opinions, though I tend to interact quite a bit with vets who ARE online, so I may be even MORE in the minority than it seems from my perspective…
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the internet is mostly awesome.

4 Responses to “The Internet is Awesome. And Unawesome. Mostly Awesome.”

  1. Judy Klimek says:

    Thanks for the call-out! I an interested also in how often/why vets search the primary research literature, since that is the focus of our elective.

  2. CathyB says:

    It also comes down to the issue of intellectual property. Too often I hear people talking about how much their knowledge is worth. My take is that if we share our knowlede, it sets everyone up to take it further–to learn and discover even more. I see it the most in 4-H. Too many people are charging too much money for these kids to learn the basics. Parents are always surprised when I don’t charge any more than materials cost. Yay for you for championing the informed pet owner and for working with them.

  3. Thanks Cathy! You are right! I had not thought of intellectual property in the wider sense. I agree with you. Yay for you for teaching 4-H and working with the kids – it is a less tangible and way more important return than just money, I think.

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