Professor Joe Bartges tells his students to treat each patient as if it were their own little Nelle, Buddy, Cruella, Geri or Chloe.
“Most people view their pets as family members, so it is important to understand and respect this, and to give them that sort of attention,” said Bartges, a professor of medicine and nutrition in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of small animal clinical sciences.
Bartges, who describes himself as “a boxer man through and through,” said his household has included many dogs and cats over the years.
“Currently, we have two boxers — Nelle, who is 10 years old, and Buddy, who is around 8 years old,” he said. “Like many veterinarians, we have ended up with pets that had health issues. We have had a Dalmatian named Cruella who had stones, a Labrador named Geri who had muscular dystrophy, a boxer named Chloe who had pulmonic stenosis, and the list goes on and on.”
Bartges said he also tells his students that the science of medicine might be found in books, but the art of medicine is found in the day-to-day interaction with animals and their owners.
“Medicine is mostly shades of gray rather than black and white. Every patient is unique, requiring creativity in the diagnostic work-up and treatment. Every patient is a puzzle to be solved. But more importantly, every patient deserves the best care we can provide with compassion and dignity,” he said.
Bartges said he enjoys the many aspects of his work — practicing medicine, teaching and doing research.
“As a clinician, I enjoy the opportunity of seeing patients and clients and practicing medicine. As a researcher, I enjoy the potential to hopefully discover or create new things that may change the way medicine is practiced. As a teacher, I enjoy the opportunity to educate people on new things that improve our care of patients. I appreciate this responsibility to educate future and present veterinarians and to watch them grow in knowledge and confidence,” he said.
Jim Thompson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, says Bartges embodies the college’s ideals of knowledge, compassion and discovery.
“In the classroom and in the small animal hospital, Joe is powerfully engaging and promotes active learning among our veterinary students, graduate students, interns and residents. He’s a perfect fit for academic practice, because he does it all; teaching, clinical service and generating new medical and veterinary knowledge with exceptional enthusiasm.”
Bartges serves as the Acree Chair of Small Animal Research at UT, and is a member of the Veterinary Medicine Editorial Advisory Board. He received the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, a Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence, and a 2007 UT National Alumni Excellence Teaching Award.
Bartges’ clinical and research specialties include internal medicine with emphasis on urology and nephrology, and clinical nutrition with an emphasis on the role of nutrition in the management of diseases.
He has written more than 200 articles, book chapters and reviews, and has spoken at more than 200 meetings.
Bartges earned his veterinary medicine degree from the University of Georgia along with a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
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