Animal Care | UDaily

UD students practice veterinary care in animal hospital internships:

Pictures of Monica Moriak

Veterinary externs gain first-hand experience in veterinary hospitals

Thanks to the University of Delaware alumnus Stephanie DeMarco, DVM and a carefully designed externship course, UD’s pre-vet medicine majors were hands-on this winter at local veterinary hospitals.

Seeking to provide UD students with meaningful clinical experiences, the Department of Animal and Food Science at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources turned to DeMarco, who has two decades of expertise in veterinary medicine, to capitalize on UD’s unique five-week winter session. The course, Animal and Food Science Experience (ANFS 464), is becoming a January staple for UD juniors with an eye on the veterinary profession. During the winter, Blue Hens worked at Windcrest Veterinary Hospital, Hockessin Animal Hospital and Talleyville Veterinary Hospital.

Stephanie DeMarco (right) and Maya Bengston

Stephanie DeMarco, DVM, (right) offers her veterinary expertise to help students like pre-vet medicine major Maya Bengston during their externship at Windcrest Animal Hospital.

“The clerkship program basically started because I was a veterinarian working at a nearby hospital,” DeMarco explained, “I was constantly getting students who wanted to do shadowing, but shadowing doesn’t allow them to to lay hands on animals.”

As externs, pre-vet medicine majors applied the skills and knowledge learned in their coursework. The Winter Internship, which takes an educational approach to hospital work, is sandwiched between the Fall and Spring Clinical Courses – Pre-Vet Clinical Experience I and II. Courses allow undergraduate students to delve into veterinary technical skills. The three-course sequence is intentionally designed to make applicants to veterinary schools as competitive as possible. UD’s esteemed pre-vet medicine program gives students a major advantage in acceptance and success in veterinary school; approximately 80% of UD applicants are admitted to veterinary school, twice the national average (40%).

“[The students] would come and ask me for jobs, but they had no experience,” DeMarco explained. “Being so close to college, my alma mater, I thought, ‘What can I do about this? and so we created this lesson sequence where we were able to start giving them some skills.

Danielle Reisman (left) with Janet Mitchell

Pre-vet medicine major Danielle Reisman (left) practices her patient restraint skills during a veterinary appointment at Hockessin Veterinary Hospital with veterinarian Janet Mitchell.

These animal hospital internships help students validate their career decisions and become self-sufficient as animal care professionals.

“This course is an elective, but I recommend it to all pre-vet medicine majors because it takes you out of the classroom and into the hospital,” noted Jessica Hagenow, a UD class of 2023 major in pre-vet and outpatient medicine at Hockessin Veterinary Hospital.

Participating students commit to five weeks of work at the hospital and earn credit for every 40 hours of technical activities completed. They gain hands-on experience in everything from preparing patients for procedures to developing vaccines to observing surgeries.

Jessica Hagenow

Pre-vet medicine major Jessica Hagenow administers a vaccine to a cat alongside a board-certified vet tech at Hockessin Veterinary Hospital.

“I practiced placing catheters on models. On the day of our next surgery, I will be able to place one on a real dog”, testifies Danielle Reisman, double major in pre-veterinary medicine and agriculture and natural resources, extern at the Hockessin Veterinary Hospital.

This winter provided Reisman with a second chance at interactive vet care after a premature attempt at another hospital.

“I didn’t have the experience I needed to do well in that role,” she recalls, “Getting that hands-on experience and being part of that course really made me more confident and better prepared to work in animal hospitals.

Jessica Martin

Pre-vet medicine major Jessica Martin attends vet appointments at Talleyville Veterinary Hospital.

While many entry-level veterinary hospital positions expect a working knowledge of technical skills when hired, this internship program allows students to participate at a manageable pace and learn more complex technical skills when themselves and the hospital staff agree they are ready.

“It’s very helpful to learn from different people and see how other people do things,” shared Jessica Martin, a pre-vet medical student in the UD class of 2023 who spent her winter at the veterinary hospital. of Talleyville. “And if you don’t have experience, it’s a good way to start so you can go and get more experience in other places.”

Beyond strengthening technical skills, externals build trust and a professional network. Animal technicians and veterinarians at each hospital act as mentors to provide support, encouragement and constructive criticism. The externship program also allows for valuable experiences with a variety of animals, helping students decide on their career trajectory.

Trinity Warmbold and Breanna Ladd

Windcrest Animal Hospital extern Trinity Wambold (right) and veterinary technician Breanna Ladd draw blood from a dog.

“The main benefit is to gain experience, which is a necessity for veterinary school. But you also gain the experience necessary to know where you want to go in the field of veterinary medicine,” Martin pointed out. , who has worked closely with small animals like cats and dogs.

In addition to more common pets, Hagenow treated animals such as rats, hamsters, birds and guinea pigs this winter at Hockessin.

“Being able to see exotic animals made me realize that I would like to pursue a career in small animals, but also know how to treat and care for exotic animals in the future,” Hagenow said.

This opportunity to shadow vets and develop technical skills gives Blue Hens insight into setting career goals, applying to vet school, and opening the door to part-time positions even before graduation. of the diploma.

Boyd S. Abbott