Recently, veterinary technology students from the Small Animal Dentistry and Surgical Assisting class from Minnesota School of Business-Elk River went to “VeTouch” at Hennepin United Methodist Church in Minneapolis to volunteer alongside University of Minnesota veterinary students to complete their applied learning project.
VeTouch, which occurs the first Sunday of every month, is set up as a partnership which is run by U of M vet students (vet students, pre-vet and Veterinarians) and is all volunteer-based. The church hosts a feed on the first Sunday of each month and VeTouch is there to provide vet services to low-income and no-income residents in the area.
Services that are provided during the sessions include:
- Heart worm testing
- Feline leukemia testing
- Ear and skin/cell work-ups
- Other services
The students are also able to provide information about heartworm and flea and tick prevention, and are also able to provide some food for the animals as well. There isn’t a lot of equipment available and the supplies they have are donated, so they do what they can with what they have.
Every clinic is a little different depending on who is able to be there to help. According to Dr. Jennifer Shurrer, “Sometimes we have general practitioners and other times we have board certified veterinary specialists.”
“The last time they had a dermatologist group there and a clinical pathologist group as well as a bovine computer production group,” said Dr. Jennifer Schurrer.
The MSB students were partnered with veterinary students from the U of M and they saw the patients just like they would in a clinic. The veterinarians offered support as needed and observed while they provided client education, obtained blood samples, restraint and all the care that was needed for the animals. The students would then give their results to the veterinarians to have them sign off on the paperwork and the legal pieces.
The session that the MSB students participated in provided the students with an experience in emergency veterinary care. During the clinic, a dog developed a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine that it had received and had an anaphylactic response. Dr. Schurrer explained that the students jumped right into action to give the dog some medication, put a catheter on and provide some therapy.
This was an incredible opportunity for the students to apply their learning with clients and new people on their own in a real-world setting.
Dani Wiederholdt, vet tech student, shared her thoughts about the experience.
“The client education part was probably the best part because the vet students were asking us questions and it was great to be able to help them out,” she said. “It made me feel as though all of a sudden all my schooling and almost two years of education had paid off. Everything just clicked in my brain. It was an awesome feeling, and even a better feeling of helping those people learn things the correct way.”
Schurrer has her students participate in this clinic each time she teaches the class. She said it is such a good experience for the vet tech students to learn how to work with the veterinary students. She also believes that it is a good opportunity for them to sell themselves and to prove what they are able to do.
Since the event, Schurrer has spoken to the VeTouch group about their needed items and is planning to work with SCNAVTA (Vet Tech student club) to see if they can raise funds for supplies. She said the campus is also able to donate items that aren’t able to be used in our facility.
“I find this is an excellent opportunity for the students to get to work with clients that really need the knowledge that our students have and are able to provide. They really need the client education and the students do a good job of providing that information,” Schurrer said.