By Kathleen Herring
Copper Ridge Animal Hospital, located just three minutes from the heart of campus, is a full-service veterinary clinic and boarding facility, and the home this semester of Intern and Senior Biology major Jessica Owens. Owens, who hopes to pursue a career with either domesticated or wild animals, is acquiring internship experiences in various segments of the field to see what fits best. This semester, she is interning at the animal hospital, where she gets to work as an assistant in various medical and routine procedures.
In an internship, you get to “see the other world – the other side to pet ownership,” explained Owens. Pets are not always happy, healthy and friendly. Sometimes they are sick or in pain or upset. Sometimes they bite. A pet owner herself, Owens finds the world of veterinary care interesting yet sometimes difficult. “Just today we did an ultrasound on a dog that we believe has Lymphoma… it’s emaciated. The whole time we’re poking and prodding [the dog] he’s licking me and it’s really sad… he’s got a needle sticking out of him and he’s still so happy. That’s the down side to this job.”
Working at an animal hospital isn’t always sad. When she’s not assisting in surgery, Jessie helps out at the front desk and jokes with her coworkers. She confided that sometimes the pets’ owners can be funny in how they describe their problems. “We had a call from a gentleman [who] said his cat wasn’t making any water, meaning urinating. I thought that was funny.” This particular cat had a blockage in its urethra and needed a medical procedure to clear it. Owens herself and a Veterinary Technician worked on the cat while the Doctor was helping another patient, giving her hands-on experience in a new procedure.
“I’m learning all the routine things that they do when it comes to vaccinations, doing submissions and holds on the animals – you don’t want the animal to be able to reach you to bite or scratch you so it’s important to hold them correctly.” She has also learned that paperwork is very important in a field where controlled drugs are used and must be documented.
When asked about her choice to do an internship, Owens emphasized that she highly recommended it to other students: “You’re not going to know until you try, until you see what it’s like… You’re paying for this education, so why not explore?” Internships give students invaluable experience in their field of interest that would not be available to an undergraduate in the job market and also earn them course credit (for juniors and seniors). Whether or not she chooses to pursue a career in veterinary science, Owens believes the experience will help her wherever she goes. “I’ve learned the ladder system, how you work your way up and gain respect and more things that you can do. [For example], at first she wouldn’t let me hold an animal; I had to prove myself. Now she lets me step in.”
Owens’ favorite part is “witnessing any surgery, anything that’s more hands-on that I can do.” She hopes to find another internship next semester, possibly working with wild animals to see the different paths she might follow. “I’m open to seeing where exactly I’m going to make a difference – I want to be somewhere where I’m going to make an impact in a positive way.”Tweet