University of Calgary

One time in vet camp …

UToday HomeJuly 21, 2011

By Jennifer Allford

Junior high students learn about veterinary medicine at one of two camps being held at UCVM this summer. Photo by Janet WebbJunior high students learn about veterinary medicine at one of two camps being held at UCVM this summer. Photo by Janet WebbFrom handling a horse and milking a cow, to seeing a snake and meeting giraffes, 48 junior high students from the Calgary area are learning all sorts of interesting things about veterinary medicine this summer at week long camps at the Clinical Skills Building (CSB).

The two separate camps—running the week of July 4 and July 18—each have 24 students enrolled and are run by four UCVM students Coby Frey, Melissa Tannahill, Heather Gordon and Meghan McCarty.

“We wanted to give kids the opportunity to see what veterinary medicine was about,” says McCarty who along with Tannahill answered UCVM’s call last October to help develop the vision and program for the camps.

The kids sutured a banana to get an idea of what it’s like to stitch up an animal, saw reindeer at the Wildlife Handling Facility and toured the zoo with a veterinarian. “I think the zoo was a big hit for a lot of people,” says McCarty. “We got up close and personal to the giraffes and some of the giraffes came down and smelled the kids’ heads and I think that was pretty memorable for them.”

Back at CSB, the students learned how to get gowned and gloved—and discovered it can be tricky avoiding contamination—before heading into simulated ‘surgery.’ “We filled up a whole bunch of different tubs with holes in the top and they had to do things like pick up ten little green army men with a pair of forceps,” says McCarty. “They also had to untie a knot without looking because a lot of the time when you’re doing surgery on animals you can’t necessarily see what your hands are doing.”

She says at the beginning of the week of the first camp, about half the kids said they wanted to be veterinarians, but that number appeared to rise as the days passed. “Toward the end of the week, we had a few of the older students asking us what does it takes to get into vet school how long it took us to get here.”

McCarty enjoyed the camp; it was an experience that was a very long time coming for the student in the Class of 2013. As a little kid, McCarty was on a waiting list to go to a vet camp in PEI, but she never did get in.