Hundreds of pre-vet students visit UF for symposium



Rachel Wisnoski, a student at Kent State University, performs CPR on a dog simulator in this lab geared at instructing students in the latest CPR guidelines. At far right, Stephanie Check of the University of North Carolina checks a pulse. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

Hundreds of pre-veterinary students from colleges all across the country converged at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine this month for lectures and labs as part of the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association’s annual symposium.

The APVMA is a national organization of students aimed at stimulating interest in the field of veterinary medicine.

More than 600 veterinary students and others associated with different colleges and veterinary-oriented organizations arrived in Gainesville on March 1. The group attended a dinner and welcome reception that night at the Hilton UF Conference Center, followed by “pre-vet Olympics,” an icebreaker activity.¬† Early the next morning, various groups, including the presidents of various pre-veterinary clubs and pre-veterinary advisors, met and had breakfast at the college. Labs and lectures for the students began at 8 a.m. and lasted most of the day.

“With the event being held at UF, we had more students here than anyone, but a large contingency came from Central and South Florida,” said Terri Weldon of the college’s Office for Students and Instruction, who helped coordinate the program.

Faculty from the UF CVM taught the visiting undergraduates, while UF veterinary students participated by offering tours of the UF Veterinary Hospitals and by serving on a panel discussion, where they shared their own real-world experiences about getting into veterinary school and answered questions from the prospective students. Students also assisted in the coordination of web labs.

Among the lectures available to students were overviews of life as a veterinarian working in various capacities — with small and large animals, in the military, in research/laboratory animal medicine, working with non-domestic species and aquatic animals, dairy animals and within the field of animal welfare.

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Alex Miller, a pre-veterinary student from Purdue, is shown performing a mock ultrasound exam in a lab that introduced students to ultrasound concepts and technology. Radiology technician Danielle Mauragis is at his right. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

Discussions of current and future therapeutic options for cancer and orthopedic diseases were held, as well as talks about what’s involved in becoming a specialist, working in primary care and dentistry, interventional veterinary medicine, cardiology and cardiac procedures, current therapy for emergency colic and neonatal critical care for horses, a day in the life of an emergency veterinarian and the role of the veterinarian in responding to a natural disaster. There was also a presentation about programs available to help students receive more exposure to research.

Labs were also wide-ranging, affording students the opportunity to receive a hands-on taste of many different procedures and techniques. Introductions to ultrasound, radiology, CPR in small animals, advanced anesthesia monitoring, emergency procedures and much more were available, including labs in anatomy, how to draw blood, performing post-mortem examinations and many more areas of interest. Following a full day of activities at the hospital, the students reconvened at the Hilton that evening for another banquet prior to departing from Gainesville the following morning.

This is only the second time UF has hosted the event. The first was in 2008.

“Usually schools will plan about a year and a half in advance to host these meetings, but we had less than a year of time to pull this together,” said Weldon, who attended last year’s APVMA symposium at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, along with Patrick Larkin and Heather Daniel Maness, who attended to promote¬† the distance education courses they coordinate for the college.¬† Weldon provided information about the UF CVM to prospective students.

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Dr. Ivan Sosa Samper, second from right, a UF cardiology resident, and Bonnie Heatwole, right, a UF cardiology technician, show students a vascular plug used to promote clotting in certain procedures. At left is Kristin Harrison of Penn State University, and Gabriella Hipp of California Polytechnic University. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

“During last year’s event, several UF students came up to me and asked if we could put in a bid to host the event,” Weldon said.

The bid was subsequently approved and planning began shortly thereafter.

Dr. Andre Shih, UF’s pre-veterinary club advisor, was instrumental in pulling together the program, Weldon said.

“We’d also like to give special thanks to the UF pre-veterinary club leadership,” Weldon said. Members of the UF undergraduate students who were part of the symposium planning committee included Kaity Hogan, Brittany Gilbert, Julie Byers, Jennifer Gray, Ashley Coxen, Briana Harrison, Sara Andreu and Patrick Brady.


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