Tufts to Open Low-Cost Pet Clinic at Worcester Technical High School
Collaborative project to treat pets from underserved areas
North Grafton, Mass., February 8, 2012— The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University today announced a collaboration with Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) that will bring a low-cost primary care clinic to pets from underserved areas throughout the Greater Worcester Area. Located on the high school’s campus on Skyline Drive in Worcester, the clinic will pair fourth-year veterinary students in the Cummings School’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program with students in the veterinary assistant program at WTHS—believed to be the first time a veterinary school has chosen a high school clinic venue to facilitate an educational and outreach partnership. Work has begun on the clinic space, and an opening is anticipated in late spring.
By requiring proof, for example, of government assistance or residency within a residence at the Worcester Housing Authority—the clinic will focus exclusively on individuals who do not have the means to bring their pets to another clinic in the area. Once approved, pet owners will have access to vaccinations, well-being visits and simple surgeries at significantly reduced fees—just enough to cover the clinic’s costs.
In addition to providing hands-on experience for both groups of students and pet owners from disadvantaged backgrounds, the clinic is likely to create a public health benefit by increasing the number of pets who are vaccinated against communicable diseases like rabies, as well as providing surveillance data on outbreaks of animal
A Benefit for All
In addition to benefitting under-served pets in the area—many of whom receive little or no care currently—the clinic presents advantages to the students and the community at large. Students in the technical high school’s veterinary assistant program will take increasingly larger roles as they progress through the four-year curriculum, learning safety and hygiene protocols, scheduling appointments, handling transactions, helping to take histories and steady animals during exams and supervise the younger students in the program. By working alongside veterinary students under the supervision of WTHS and Cummings School personnel, veterinary assistant students learn valuable skills, Harrity said, and may also aspire to become veterinary technicians or veterinarians themselves.
What’s more, students in programs other than the veterinary assistant curriculum will have a hand in the clinic’s creation. Students in the school’s Computer Aided Design and Drafting program, for example, have helped to design the physical space, others in the Coghlin Construction Technology program will build it, and Graphic Communications students may be tapped to design print and web advertising for the clinic. In a two-week rotation, Cummings School students would lead clinical care for the pets brought to the clinic, performing examinations and diagnostics using the on-site radiology and laboratory equipment, and creating a clinical treatment plan in consultation with Dr. Wolfus.
The Worcester clinic will allow Tufts students to gain more experience with routine care and engage in direct communication with clients about financial and medical matters. All of these are keys to creating well-rounded, service-minded veterinarians, Wolfus says.
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