The veterinary technology program at UNH’s Thompson School of Applied Science prepares students for a career working with animals, and with the opening of an on-campus clinic this fall, vet tech students have even more opportunities to apply what they learn. Located in Barton Hall, the clinic features what you would expect in a typical veterinary office: a waiting area, examination and treatment rooms, kennels and digital x-ray machines. By spring 2018, the clinic will also have a completed surgery suite.
“We wanted to be able to mimic a real-life veterinary practice for students and have them be in an environment like where they would work,” says Sarah Proctor, director of the veterinary technology program and clinical assistant professor.
Students in the vet tech program already travel to Dover and Somersworth to assist with PAWS clinics, which provide those for whom costs might be a barrier with affordable treatement for their pets. Now the on-campus clinic allows them to help out right here in Durham.
“Our goal is to serve low-income clients, to make veterinary services more accessible,” says Proctor. “The clinic appointments are going great. We started reaching out to residents of the Dover Housing Authority but are working to get more clients and connect with more organizations.”
The clinic provides many services, from basic vaccines and heart tests to ultrasounds and flea and tick treatment. The most common client request is for wellness care, making sure their pets get tests and vaccines, although sick animals can be seen.
“Seeing clients at the clinic has been extremely beneficial for vet tech students,” says Proctor. “They can see the whole process of medical care. It can be intimidating, adding an extra level of pressure working on an animal in front of a client. It is real life, but I think they are doing a great job handling it.”
Vet tech students rotate through different roles, including receptionist, client coordinator and nurse.
Sometimes students treat animals from Dover’s Cocheco Valley Humane Society, and sometimes they work on their instructor’s pets.
During a recent clinic, students saw a dog named Caya. After an intake, they got to work cleaning her ears, checking her teeth and taking her temperature and weight.
“From working in the clinic we’ve learned leadership skills, how to problem-solve and how to relay information to clients,” says Amber Ganley ’18.
“I think it’s been amazing, very hands-on,” says Olivia Heghmann ’18. “It’s not like you are just sitting in the classroom. You learn about radiography and then you come downstairs and take x-rays on live animals. You get to experience what the work will be like before getting out into the field.”
Makenzi Coburn ’18 says, “I have gotten a lot of experience dealing with clients and real situations.”
Though the clinic only recently started seeing clients, Proctor has big plans for the space. She hopes to grow the operation and expand its hours and workers to potentially include those in applied animal science, pre-vet and other veterinary-related areas, so more students can get the experience of working in a clinical space and so more clients can be served.
“Having the clinic and this program for people and pets that need it is wonderful. Helping others is great and very rewarding,” says vet tech instructor Vicki Soletsky.