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Community Practice Service Puts Clinical Experience in Students’ Grasp
by Jonas Siegel

Illinois veterinary students now have another opportunity to get hands-on experience in a clinical environment from their first year at the College.

In January, the College incorporated its community practice unit in the Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital into the teaching program. First-, second- and third-year veterinary students, who in part staff the unit, can augment their coursework with the type of experience they would get in a private practice. 

“Working in the community practice has been both interesting and educational,” says Aimee Laframboise, a first-year veterinary student. “It has allowed me to take what I have learned thus far and apply it to the cases that I see.” 

Dr. Kent Davis, who recently joined the College’s faculty after 21 years of emergency, mobile, private, and relief practice, heads up the community practice. 

“I have done a little bit of everything,” says Dr. Davis. “I can talk to students about it all.” 

[Dr. Davis with students]
Students seem to appreciate the way Dr. Davis is organizing the unit. 

Dr. Kent Davis lets veterinary students Liz Pocius and Lori Pearlman take charge of a patient.

“He seems very willing to let students work through a case and gain whatever knowledge and practice they can,” says Judie Ohnemus, a first-year veterinary student who has already worked in the unit.

The community practice will serve patients “who have not been referred by another veterinarian, or come from a long distance and don’t need the attention of a specialist,” according to Dr. Davis. Annual vaccinations; examinations and health certificates; new puppy and kitten wellness 
examinations; and minor surgeries and laceration repairs are among the services offered.

“The community practice should increase the efficiency of existing units in the clinic,” says Dr. Davis, because it will free up specialists to work on their specialties.

Dr. Davis will stress the importance of communication and interpersonal skills in dealing with clients to his students. He’s also encouraging upperclassmen to build management skills by letting them delegate tasks to the first- and second-year volunteers.

The treatment protocol will work in the same way that the clinic’s does. Dr. Davis will complete an examination of a patient after the students do. 

“I will try to get students to do what they need to do and move along,” says Dr. Davis.

Third-year students will get a chance once a semester to work for a day with Dr. Davis. First- and second-year students will have the chance to volunteer during the normal hours of the unit, noon to seven in the evening on weekdays.

Students will also be asked to assist in answering the “Ask a Vet” question board on the Internet at www.cvm.uiuc.edu/vth/community_practice.html. “It will get students used to answering questions that clients are likely to ask,” Dr. Davis says.

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