New tech shadowing program a win-win

 By Sarah Carey

Veterinary cardiology technician Bonnie Heatwole with technology student Ari Flink.

Veterinary cardiology technician Bonnie Heatwole with technology student Ari Flink.

All of the services in UF Veterinary Hospitals are experiencing the shadow effect, and it’s proving to be illuminating for all involved.

Starting in May, students enrolled in the veterinary technology program at St. Petersburg College began shadowing their professional counterparts at UF.  Students choose which services they are interested in, and visit UF for a full day, during which they work side by side with technicians and students on their clinical rotations.

“They spend time with our veterinary technician team and see how they work within their individual specialties,” said Megan Elliott, the hospital’s nursing coordinator. “The purpose of the program is to expose future certified veterinary technicians to a university environment, while enabling them to obtain one-on-one time with our staff.”

Elliott added that the opportunity also provides UF veterinary technicians with the opportunity to share what they do and provide personal insight on nursing as a career.

To date, some 38 students have participated in the shadowing program.

“The students rave about the experience and we hope to expand it to allow for internships and externships,” Elliott said, adding that she also has been in contact with Hillsborough Community College and that five students from its program are scheduled to participate beginning in November.

Bonnie Heatwole, a certified veterinary technician with the cardiology service, said the student who shadowed her service on Oct. 5, Ari Flink, “ was a delight to be with.”

“She worked side by side with our students to learn as much as possible about echocardiography and electrocardiography,” Heatwole said. “Ari was very inquisitive, thrilled to meet our residents and faculty and took the opportunity to do some valuable networking. Much to our surprise, Ari has plans to go to veterinary school and offered to come back and volunteer during her school breaks at St. Petersburg College.”

Dr. Richard Flora, dean of the St. Petersburg College’s School of Veterinary Technology, said he felt the program was a win-win for all involved.

“It gives our students a chance to work with technicians in specialty areas to decide whether these options offer a career option they might want to consider,” Flora said. “In addition, the program allows them to work next to and with the veterinary students, which gives the veterinary students an idea of the capabilities of educated technicians. So it’s a benefit for both.”

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