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Hands-on learning for future veterinarians

The Clinical Skills Development Group practice on a cat mannequin. From left, Professor of Small Animal Surgery Dr Andrew Worth, Associate Professor and Group Leader of Companion Animal Clinical Studies Dr Jonathan Bray, Senior Veterinarian Dr Thomas Odom, Senior Lecturer in Anaesthesia Vicki Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Professional Studies, Clinical Instruction and Equine Medicine Dr Stuart Gordon, and Clinical Instructor Patrice Palleson.

A new veterinary clinical skills laboratory that allows students to practise common veterinary procedures on dummies has opened at Massey University's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences.

The laboratory contains multiple stations for students to practice intubation and venipuncture before working with live animals as well as learning gowning for surgery, identifying animal breeds, anaesthetic machine set-up and other everyday veterinary clinical skills.

There are two life-sized horse mannequins – one with accessible organs – as well as dog and cat models developed by Vicki Walsh, a senior lecturer in anaesthesia.

Senior veterinarian Dr Stuart Gordon initiated the laboratory after seeing similar facilities overseas. Dr Gordon says a move towards welfare-first practical learning was a key driver in establishing the laboratory.

“These new facilities allow the students to gain core clinical skills through a hands-on approach before interacting with live animals. As a world-leading veterinary school, Massey focuses on offering the best learning opportunities for future veterinarians without compromising animal welfare. These clinical skills labs represent the future of teaching and learning.”

College of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Ray Geor, a trained veterinarian himself, recalled a time when he practised suturing on fruit peel. “From a learning perspective this is wonderful for students. They can gain confidence in their skills in a non-threatening environment. It allows them to learn fundamental skills so when they come to work on a patient, they have these engrained and can concentrate on the unique aspects of a patient.

The laboratory is in a temporary location but will become a permanent facility accessible to students around the clock once the upgrade of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital is completed next year.

Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences head Professor Paul Kenyon (left), senior lecturer Liz Norman, Professor Geor and Professor of equine health Chris Riley at the opening of the veterinary clinical skills laboratory.


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