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College of Veterinary Medicine opens new hands-on skills center

Students practice prepping stuffed dogs for surgery by cleaning and draping surgical cloths on the intended surgery area. They can also rehearse their suturing skills at the skin closure station. Credit: Adreyn Yates | Lantern Reporter

Ohio State veterinary students are practicing their hands-on skills with the help of a new clinic equipped with sophisticated simulators and realistic models of patients.

The College of Veterinary Medicine’s new Veterinary Clinical and Professional Skills Center provides students with field experience before entering the workforce.

Students are able to familiarize themselves with the anatomy of animals, such as cats, dogs and horses. They can also prep procedure areas, practice mock surgeries and act out possible scenarios that focus on communicating with owners about their animal.

Dr. Emma Read, associate dean for professional programs, said it gives students a chance to hone their skills.

“They have the chance to learn those things and to practice them over and over on simulator models before they have the chance to do them on a live patient in the hospital environment,” Read said.

The skills center includes almost 9,000 square feet of educational space with a large, open lab equipped with several overhead cameras for demonstrations, which can hold up to 80 students at a time. It also has seven smaller labs with models to train students in various specialities, such as surgery, 3D printing, bandaging, ultrasound, dental work and more.

There are many models throughout the center that allow students to practice critical skills needed to perform surgery without actually operating on patients.

For instance, a lifelike spaying station offers students the chance to practice sterilizing animals, and another station guides students through prepping stuffed dogs for surgery by cleaning and draping surgical cloths on the dog’s stomach.

This hands-on practice allows students like Courtney Huck, a second-year in veterinary medicine, to take her education one step further.

“It’s one thing to watch a video of a skill. You can watch a video over and over and you can get a lot of information from it,” Huck said. “But it’s a whole other thing to come and put your hands on it and actually go through the motions.”

While this kind of experience helps students prepare for veterinary duties, it also allows students like Michael Botros and Breanna Lincoski — both second-year veterinary students — to build confidence in the medicine they are practicing.

“We practice communicating with clients in different situations and scenarios so that when we go into the field we’re able to think through it or know how to act because there are different ways to communicate with clients that will help us get the information we need and help them feel comfortable with the setting,” Botros said.

For second- and third-year students, Lincoski said the skills center is a major upgrade because it helps them practice skills before performing it on live animals.

“I think it’ll not only help the student feel more confident, but you’re gonna decrease the stress on your patient because you know what you’re doing,” Lincoski said.

The skills center is one of many programs made possible by the Stanton Foundation. A gift of $39 million donated to the college in 2016 helped fund the $9.3 million center. Frank Stanton, an Ohio State alumnus and former CBS president, created the foundation to support canine health and welfare and other efforts.

This gift allows the college to prepare more competent, practice-ready veterinary graduates who will be equipped to provide a wide range of care to animals, Read said.

“No doubt that there may be times where they feel intimidated, but the idea behind the lab is to give them a chance to feel less that way, to work with the faculty one on one and to really practice their skills,” Read said. “At the moment, I think they’re just really excited to have the kind of space and opportunities it’s going to provide.”

Andrea Bessler, a second-year in veterinary medicine, said she agreed with Read in how beneficial the skills center is for veterinary students, especially now that they have the opportunity to practice their skills earlier in the program.

“It’s very nice to have the practical skills because if it wasn’t for Stanton or the skills lab, if neither of those things existed, we wouldn’t get to do a lot of those things until third or fourth year. Having access to it as first years gives us an advantage,” Bessler said. “We’ll be first-day-ready veterinarians.”

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