Learning To Save Lives

Vet Students Get Practical Experience at Wayside Waifs

Vet Students Get Practical Experience at Wayside Waifs

The Wayside Waifs Veterinary Clinic is the epicenter of activity at the shelter, and where some of our most important work takes place.  Veterinarians Dr. Cynthia Moon and Dr. Luke Pickett have their hands full overseeing the medical care of more than 300 animals at any given time.  Because each animal has different needs, the Wayside medical team sees just about every type of medical issue you can imagine.  

This unique environment makes Wayside Waifs a perfect place for veterinary students to put what they’ve learned in the classroom in practice.  Wayside Waifs is one of only a handful of animal shelters in the Midwest Region participating in a Veterinary Preceptorship Program with the veterinary colleges at the University of Missouri, Kansas State University and Iowa State University.  

Every two weeks two new veterinary students rotate through the program, living and learning at Wayside.  They receive hands-on experience working with the animals under the tutelage of Dr. Moon and Dr. Pickett.  “It’s a nice opportunity for the students to get spay and neuter surgical experience along with seeing disease control methods in practice,” said Dr. Pickett. 

To welcome the students to Wayside Waifs, their school banners are proudly displayed by the vet clinic.  Wayside also provides them with subsidized accommodations in a cozy housing unit on its 44-acre campus. 

Iowa State students Christine Fanelli and Jordan Nickerson gave their experience at Wayside Waifs rave reviews.  “In just a few days at Wayside, I’ve become faster and more efficient in surgery,” said Fanelli.  “My confidence also got a big boost.”  Nickerson said at school he has an opportunity to perform only two spay/neuter surgeries every two weeks, while at Wayside Waifs he’s able to perform two to three surgeries a day.  During his preceptorship he also treated a dog for heartworms and performed a hernia repair for the first time.  “It is just a great, fun, relaxed environment to learn in,” Nickerson said.  “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to hone my skills.”  Having students in the vet clinic is also a bonus for Wayside Waifs.  “These vet students provide additional manpower to the vet clinic, and they’re bright, focused, energetic and well-trained,” said Dr. Pickett.  “The program is a win for Wayside and a win for the animals in our care because these students enable us to do more for more animals every day.”

Both Fanelli and Nickerson say their experience at Wayside Waifs provided them with valuable insight into shelter veterinary practices and also steered them in a new career direction.  “I would love to work in a shelter, but if I end up in private practice I will make it a priority to give back through pro bono work with a shelter,” said Fanelli. 

At the end of their two week preceptorship, Dr. Pickett evaluates each student on their medical and patient skills.  The students leave Wayside Waifs armed with additional knowledge, a fresh perspective and valuable hands-on experience that will help propel them towards rewarding careers in veterinary medicine… enabling them to better care for all creatures, great and small.

Written by Ashlee Parker
Communications Relations Manager at Wayside Waifs


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