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Veterinary students gain hands-on experience at P.E.I. goat farm

Island Hill Farm invited students from the Atlantic Veterinary College to give ultrasounds to goats and gain hands-on experience working with animals on the farm.

A valuable opportunity for students that helps the farm as well

Flory Sanderson said this is the first time Island Hill Farms has hosted students to assist with ultrasounds and she's grateful she can provide an opportunity to help them learn. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Island Hill Farm invited students from the Atlantic Veterinary College to give ultrasounds to goats and gain hands-on experience working with the animals on the farm. 

"We're going to be vets in a few years so we have to be able to show our clients what we know and be able to actually do hands-on skills and be able to provide for people in our future careers," said Catherine Krus, a third year student who organized the ultrasound lab for her fellow students.

Catherine Krus organized the ultrasound lab for her fellow classmates and said she plans to keep organizing visits to the farm for future students. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Ten AVC students travelled to the farm to preform ultrasound scans to check for pregnancies in the goats.

Krus has worked with the animals at Island Hill Farms before, but this was her first time preforming ultrasounds on goats.

Important clinical experience 

Thomas Olney, a veterinarian completing his farm service residency at AVC, led the ultrasound lab and assisted students as they each took a turn preforming an ultrasound or handling the goats. 

"We're going to be vets in a few years so we have to be able to show our clients what we know and be able to actually do hands-on skills and be able to provide for people in our future careers," says third year veterinary student, Catherine Krus.

​"It's a good learning opportunity for the students," Olney said.

"It's good for them to get the clinical experience, practical experiencing looking at stages of pregnancy and getting used to the animal interaction." 

He said Island Hill Farm provides AVC students with many opportunities to come to the farm and work with the animals and learn about routine herd health. In addition to detecting pregancies, students will also develop plans to manage each animals' nutrition and health based on the results. 

Sanderson said the ultrasounds help her know how to properly manage her animals' nutrition and make adjustments to their feed to support healthy pregnancies. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Olney said the lab gives them clinical experience working with both sick animals and practicing routine procedures that every veterinarian needs to know how to do. 

Helps the farm 

As the students pointed out pregnancies on the portable ultrasound monitor, farm owner Flory Sanderson said she grew more and more excited to know there would be new goats on her farm. 

"We have a great partnership with the AVC," Sanderson said.

"And it helps us. The more we know the more we can educate and the more we can share."

She said the ultrasounds help her to manage her goats' nutrition and know when to adjust their feed to match what they need while pregnant. She also said she's happy to help aspiring veterinarians by providing learning opportunities whenever she can. 

Sanderson said students from the Atlantic Veterinary College also visit the farm in the summer to gain hands on experience working with the animals and learning about routine herd health. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"It's important for them to get the hands on experience because once they become a veterinarian they're a doctor and they might not have the opportunity to work on animals," Sanderson said. "This gives them the opportunity to hold them and handle them and really learn."

Sanderson said this is the second time she has had ultrasounds preformed on her goats and she hopes she can continue to include AVC students as part of the process.