Photos: Animal Rescue League of Iowa

A New Normal for Low-Cost Clinics

COVID-19 has disrupted life pretty much across the board.

The Shelter Medicine Club in the College of Veterinary Medicine is no exception to that.

“Historically the Shelter Medicine Club has put on our own vaccine clinics, targeting low-income citizens in Ames and the surrounding communities,” said Katie Hamilton, a third-year veterinary student and co-club president. “These events would typically happen once a semester, but our schedule has been disrupted due to COVID.”

This year, the Shelter Medicine Club has partnered with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa to offer low-cost vaccine and wellness clinics in the Des Moines metro area. The first such clinic was held in at the DAV Thrift Store in Des Moines in late September.

Hamilton says this is the first time the Shelter Medicine Club has partnered with the ARL and the initial clinic was such a success, an additional clinic has been scheduled in 2021.

“Our goal is to hold more clinics next semester and continue to offer these with the ARL in the future,” said Melissa Garcia Rodriguez, club co-president.

The first low-cost vaccine and wellness clinic attracted 53 dogs. Club members, assisted by Iowa State faculty members Drs. Joyce Carnavale and April Blong, administered vaccines and microchips while performing physical exams, heartworm tests, and fecal tests over a three-hour period.

Each dog was seen by one of the four-student veterinarian teams for 30 minutes. As each exam concluded, either a fourth-year veterinarian student or Drs. Blong and Carnavale checked on the dog, and spoke to the owner and the student veterinarians about the exam findings.

“This gave us time to thoroughly examine the pet, draw blood, vaccinate and communicate with owners,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t want to be rushed since we’re all learning individually and as a group.”

The opportunity for the first, second and third-year veterinary students to practice their physical exam skills on a pet was invaluable. In addition, Rodriguez said communicating with clients was another added benefit for the students.

“We are very grateful to have faculty such as Drs. Carnavale and Blong who are willing and able to donate their time and skills on a weekend,” Rodriguez said.

“It is a huge pay off, putting to use what we have been learning in our curriculum and being able to apply it in real world situations,” said David Frausto, a first-year veterinary student.

October 2021