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Club Vet Med: Extracurricular Activities Broaden Students’ Horizons
Compiled by Lianne Carr

“How do they do it?”

That’s the reaction assistant dean for Academic and Student Affairs Mary Kelm has when she considers all the outreach and activity of veterinary students.

It’s a good question! Despite a very demanding veterinary curriculum, most Illinois students find time to participate in a wide variety of outside activities. Some are essentially service to the College and to their classmates, from walking blood donor dogs to organizing dances and the annual Open House to running a bookstore and a fitness club.

In addition there are more than two dozen official student organizations that round out the veterinary education experience. Students participate in order to increase hands-on experience, build leadership skills, complement the curriculum, promote a cause, or simply network with others who share a particular interest.

Student Organizations and Clubs
American Animal Hospital Association
American Association of Equine Practitioners
American Association of Feline Practitioners
American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians
Blood Donor Care Committee
Christian Veterinary Mission Fellowship
International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine
Illinois Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medicine Association
Illinois Student Chapter of the Association of Avian Veterinarians
Illinois Student Chapter of the Veterinary Cancer Society
Illinois Veterinary Herpetological Society
International Veterinary Student Association
Non-Traditional Species Organization
Omega Tau Sigma Fraternity
Production Medicine Club
Society for Animal and Veterinary Ethics
Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners
Student Chapter of American College of Veterinary Pathologists
Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society
Surgery Club
Veterinary Practice Builders Association
Wildlife Medical Clinic

Following is a sampling of what students cite as the benefits to spending their precious free time in club activities.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has given me the opportunity to improve my veterinary skills through externships I learned of at the national AAEP website listings. The student chapter has also allowed me to get hands-on experience working in the clinic on foal ICU shifts.
— Class of 2004

The student chapter of American Association of Equine Practitioners has given me lots of opportunities to obtain equine experience. The ICU/Colic Teams have allowed me to get more experience with foals and observe during surgeries. Attending the National AAEP convention allowed me to interact with veterinarians and learn the latest. In the spring, a group travels to Lexington, KY to assist veterinarians at Rolex.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has given me a chance to learn about the practical differences in treatments and diseases that are involved with cats.
— Class of 2005

A feline practitioner from the Chicago area came to speak to [the American Association of Feline Practitioners club] about some of her coolest cases. Each of her stories was interesting, entertaining, and educational, yet at the level where even 1st years such as myself could apply some knowledge. Her methodologies regarding case treatments and her intuition were especially impressive, reminding me of the famous revolutionary cat practitioner, Dr. Louis Camuti. Anyway, the whole talk was uplifting because it provided me with a strong role model, and a connection to her practice, since she invited any student from the audience to visit her practice. That’s why I think AAFP is cool.
— Class of 2006

I’m the president of the student chapter of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Zoo medicine is a specialty that is not really taught in the general curriculum, except for random side-notes here and there. Our group works hard to give students some exposure to what zoo medicine entails. We sponsor several speakers a semester, usually one talk on “How to become a Zoo Vet” for the incoming freshman class and several other talks on more specific topics.

[hands-on learning opportunity]We generally sponsor one or two trips a year to zoos for a behind the scenes tour and chance to see the zoo’s animal hospital. This year we held our first annual remote chemical immobilization wet-lab at Brookfield Zoo under the guidance of Dr. Jennifer Langan. Students were given several hours of lecture on darting equipment and chemical immobilization, followed by some hands-on practice with the various equipment.

Our student chapter also organizes a trip to the AAZV conference every year. This opportunity gives students the chance to participate in wet-labs, listen to 4 days of talks, network with veterinarians in the field, and get a feel for various externship and preceptor ship programs.
— Class of 2004

As a member of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (as well as the overall exotics club, Non-Traditional Species) I have had the opportunity to hear lectures and participate in wet labs involving species this school teaches very little about. Most importantly, I have been able to attend the national ARAV meetings with the monetary support of the club. Networking is invaluable in such a tight knit community.
— Class of 2004

The Blood Donor Care Committee fills a missing piece in the puzzle of life by giving me the chance to experience the joy of working with wonderful dogs but more so to fill the void of not having my own dog around. And some of them still think they’re puppies (Charlie!).
— Class of 2006

Being a part of Christian Veterinary Mission Fellowship gave me the opportunity to travel to Haiti last year with 6 other students who were members of other classes and 3 veterinarians. While in Haiti we taught anatomy and physiology to Haitians and held clinics to treat and vaccinate cattle, horses, and swine.

It has given me an opportunity to get to know not only my colleagues from other classes, but vet students from other schools and veterinarians in practice around the United States and who serve in 3rd world countries. Meeting once a week for Bible study has also provided a valuable source of encouragement for surviving vet school.
— Class of 2005

[teaching Haitian Veterinary Agents]

Christian Veterinary Mission Fellowship is a great place to share ideas and values with other Christian vet students. It’s a time to forget the craziness of our school days and to pause and reflect on what’s most important to us in life - our faith and sharing it with others.
— Class of 2006

Most students are not able to appreciate everything that the Illinois Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association is involved with. The group is not only a students initial link to organized veterinary medicine, but works as a link between faculty and students, provides superb speakers, sponsors social events, and provides a link to other veterinary schools.
— Class of 2004

The Illinois Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association has been one of the most worthwhile experiences in veterinary school. Last year at the convention, I had the opportunity to palpate horses, collect semen, and even watched my first foaling! Usually, this experience will not happen until fourth year. I hope the experience at convention and future meetings will be as good as the previous ones!
— Class of 2005

Lectures sponsored by the Illinois Student Chapter of the Association of Avian Veterinarians on specific subjects have served as a great supplement to the elective avian courses.
— Class of 2004

Non-Traditional Species organizes the zoo, avian, herp, aquatics, and wildlife clubs in a way that allows the individual to work together more effectively. The interests of these clubs often overlap, and NTS has helped to enhance the opportunities they can offer their members.
— Class of 2004

more benefits cited by students

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