An Amazing Experience

One day Jasmine Hanson was taking her last finals as a third-year veterinary student at Iowa State University.

A few days later she was on a flight to Guatemala to spend her first two weeks of her final year of veterinary studies at the Animal Rehabilitation and Wildlife Conservation Center (ARCAS) in that country. It was quite the leap into her fourth-year clinical rotations.

“There were technically other times that I could have done this rotation but I had already filled other externships for those time periods,” Hanson said. “Plus they didn’t mesh well with the rotations I had scheduled in the hospitals.”

This was Hanson’s first trip abroad. She had considered other international opportunities but they never worked out. But a trip to Guatemala to work at ARCAS was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I knew I had to take advantage of the amazing experience while still being able to learn and earn credit,” Hanson said. “I am also interested in companion exotic medicine and many of the wildlife in Guatemala are seen as pets here. I was able to gain more hands-on experience with these species than I ever expected.”

Hanson’s days in Guatemala typically began with her taking care of anywhere from ten to 100 animals. Depending on the day, she spent her other time learning about wildlife medicine or saw patients.

She microchipped crocodiles and an armadillo. She drew blood from monkeys and a crocodile. She treated and gave injections to a spider money. She gave oral medications and helped relocate margays and a coatimundi.

She even restrained a howler monkey for a blood draw.

All in all, it was an amazing experience, especially for her first clinical rotation and her first time outside the United States.

“The case I followed through the most was a juvenile ornate hawk eagle with a broken humerus,” Hanson said. “He came in while I was there and we did an initial sedated physical exam, radiographs, pinned the bone in place, gave both IM and oral medications, and did multiple rebandages.

“I also had the opportunity to catch him which requires a special technique because their talons are a couple of inches long and super strong.”

The experience at ARCAS not only reinforced her desire to learn more about companion exotic medicine, but helped prepare for her return to Iowa State and a year-long series of clinical rotations both in the small and large animal hospitals but in other veterinary medicine settings.

“This experience really gave me a lot more confidence,” Hanson said. “I proved to myself that I was able to overcome a lot of challenges.

“This was a great way to not only earn academic credit but it was also a strong start to my rotations.”

June 2021