The Southern Institute of Technology | Te Pūkenga Free Pet Health Clinic held recently by the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing students, crowned another successful year for the Vet Nursing staff and soon-to-be graduating students.
Pictured from left: pet owner Joanne Terry holds Timothy Cottontail, a 13-year-old Lhasa-Bichon cross, while SIT | Te Pūkenga Vet Nursing student, Emily Brooklands completes his check. Timothy, who is a favourite with the students, has been a regular at the SIT annual free pet health check clinics for eight years. The clinics were held Oct 17 – 18 with nine Vet Nursing diploma students checking 182 local pets.
The two-day clinic, held 17th and 18th October, saw nine diploma students carry out health checks on 182 animals (dogs, cats and rabbits), covering nail trimming, microchipping, advice on animal husbandry, dental care and nutrition. Vet Nursing Tutor, Mel Shuttleworth noted there was a significant increase in the number of cats compared to previous years, which was pleasing. “The consult bookings were just chocka for the two days,” adding she’d made more appointments available. “We do our very best not to turn anyone away.” While all services at the clinic are free, there is a discounted fee of $15 for microchipping which covers the cost of the animal being loaded onto the national registry (NZCAR).
Ms Shuttleworth described the clinic as the highlight of the year and a culmination for the students, who are able to test their clinical skills on the animal clients. The clinic was “outstanding” and the students were “thriving” she said.
The clinic plays an important role in giving the students an opportunity to engage with the community with real-life animal appointments. “When the students are on placement, they’re not exposed to clinical experience, usually they’re back-of-house involved with monitoring animals and don’t have direct contact with the public,” Ms Shuttleworth explained. This clinic was their chance to run vet nurse consults for the first time, and they would be expected to do this once they entered employment. “Because they’ve had a taste of this, it gives them more confidence moving into actual clinical practice.”
Ms Shuttleworth believes part of the clinic’s success is setting clear goals for the students to attain. “We set achievable goals but passed them significantly, and they were pretty impressive numbers.” They wanted to see at least 150 animals, and micro-chipped 36 animals which was very close to their goal of 40.
The other goal the class surpassed was their fund-raising effort. Ms Shuttleworth said every year they raise funds for Southland SPCA by running raffles; the class set a
goal of raising at least $400 and were thrilled to exceed that amount, with $625 to donate.
Ms Shuttleworth wanted to “give a shout out” to the group of very loyal sponsors who support the clinic days. “They are phenomenal, they are always here and always backing us up. They are so keen to jump in and support the students and they help with training throughout the year.”