Meet the Managers: Exit Interview

Third year student and clinic manager Kara Hiebert answers questions about what she has gained from her years in the Wildlife Clinic

What initially sparked your interest in wildlife medicine?

 I’m not sure if I can really pinpoint one thing that sparked my interest. As my parents can attest, I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember. Anytime our cat brought in an unfortunate bird or rodent, I was adamant that we needed to rescue it and put it back out in the wild. When I was in kindergarten, I was actually bit by a mouse because I was trying to “save” it (not my smartest move). I was also super lucky to have a family that travelled quite a bit, and looking back we always seemed to find wildlife along the way, whether that be stopping to see the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco or waking up at the crack of dawn and piling into a dingy to see wild dolphins. In undergrad, I got more of a taste for what it is like working directly with wildlife during my internships at the California Wildlife Center and the Animal Rescue Clinic at Mystic Aquarium. I loved everything about my experiences with those organizations, which really reinforced wildlife medicine as a major interest of mine.  Continue reading

Meet The Managers!

The Wildlife Medical Clinic has two veterinary students employed as clinic managers (in addition to the over 100 student volunteers). These vet students oversee the clinic daily, stay on campus over vacations and breaks to take care of the wildlife patients, and provide support for anything the teams of volunteers need.

Kara Hiebert, VM3: Kara is a third-year veterinary student! She began volunteering as a first-year vet student and has been working hard to provide excellent care for the wildlife patients we see and answering any questions that other students may have about their cases.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of working at the WMC?
    1. My favorite aspect of volunteering at the WMC is all of the hands-on experience that we wouldn’t otherwise get until our clinical year. This experience includes anything from placing intravenous catheters, to monitoring anesthesia, to creating a treatment plan for various patients. Of course, releasing our patients after working hard to rehabilitate them is a close second.
  1. What are your duties as Student Manager?
    1. Our duties as student managers can vary throughout the year. During the school year, patient care is primarily the responsibility of the teams, but we still oversee treatment decisions and give advice when needed. We are also responsible for cleaning the clinic, maintaining clinic inventory, organizing patient transfers, and organizing rounds speakers and team leader training. During the summer and other academic breaks, the student managers take over patient care in addition to our other duties. Thankfully, during the summer a few student interns and many wonderful volunteers help us out.
  2. What are your future career goals?
    1. I would love to work as a wildlife or zoo veterinarian in the future. Ideally, I’d like to work part of the time in a wildlife rehabilitation setting and part of the time in a zoo or aquarium setting, so finding a job at a zoo or aquarium with a rehabilitation program would be the best of both worlds. Additionally, I have a soft spot for marine mammals, so any opportunity to work with them in a rehabilitation setting would be a dream job for me. Of course, employment in these fields can be difficult to find, so even if I do not get my dream job, I’ll be happy as long as I am using my veterinary career to contribute to wildlife conservation.
  3.  What are your goals for the WMC as Student Manager?
    1. My goals as a student manager of the WMC are primarily to become the best veterinarian I can be and leave a positive impact on the clinic when I leave. I hope to sharpen my clinical skills (placing IV catheters, drawing blood, etc.) as well as my critical thinking skills (determining a diagnosis, making treatment decisions, etc.). Additionally, I hope to use this position to teach others about the WMC and local Illinois wildlife, so people continue to support and value the work we do here.

Cassie Vespa, VM2: Cassie is a second-year veterinary student and our newest manager! She was chosen for the manager position once Ainsely Boyle moved on to her clinical rotations.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of volunteering at the WMC?
    1. The hands-on and decision making experience at the WMC clinic is unparalleled. The clinic is primarily student run. We get the opportunity to triage cases, come up with treatment plans, and perform procedures while working closely with Dr. Reich. I see and learn something new every day.  I also like getting the opportunity to teach other students what I’ve learned.
  2. What are your duties as Student Manager? 
    1. As student managers we are responsible for ensuring that the clinic is running smoothly and all patients are receiving the care they need. We do intake exams on all new patients, develop treatment plans, perform relevant diagnostics (radiographs, bloodwork, etc), administer treatments, perform procedures such as debriding and suturing wounds, placing bandages and casts, performing physical therapy on patients recovering from broken bones, etc., and of course providing them with comfortable enclosures and fresh food and water. We are also responsible for transferring healthy patients to licensed rehabilitators or releasing them, answering phone calls, inventory for the clinic, and keeping the clinic clean and organized. During the school year, we organize rounds lectures for our student volunteers and training for team leaders.
  3. What are your future career goals? 
    1. I’ve always wanted to work with exotic animals. I love seeing so many different species. I’d love to work for a zoo or animal reserve, or work with exotic pets in private practice. My fiance is a small animal veterinarian interested in surgery and physical therapy. By combining our strengths, we hope to someday own our own clinic!
  4. What are your goals for the WMC as Student Manager? 
    1. To help the clinic continue to grow and make improvements that will streamline longstanding efficiency so that we can provide the best care we can to patients while optimizing learning experiences for students.