Veterinary Outreach Elective Supports Underserved Communities

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Veterinary medicine students often find themselves immersed in learning environments in the classroom or laboratory, intensely studying their coursework. Throughout the months of October and November, however, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine students enrolled in an outreach elective course are participating in a community service program in northeast Alabama, providing veterinary services to underserved areas.

This year, seven third-year and one second-year students are stepping outside of the classroom and learning by serving the community through the elective course, "Veterinary Service Learning and Outreach.” The course, made possible by a grant funded through the Auburn University Outreach program, allows students to travel to underserved communities and partner with local veterinarians to provide free veterinary services and education to pet owners.

This year’s class of eight students is working in clinics being conducted in Centre and in Guntersville, Alabama, where the class partnered with Dr. Jeremy Deaton to offer no-cost veterinary clinics. The students are providing wellness exams, vaccines, spay and neuter certificates, heartworm testing, nail trims and other basic pet care. The service is available to anyone who lives within a 40- to 50-mile radius around Centre or Guntersville.

In early October, the students assisted Dr. Deaton in a low-to-no-cost clinic where they spayed or neutered more than 150 cats in Cherokee County.

Upcoming wellness programs include Saturday, Oct. 21, in Center, Alabama, with Dr. Deaton; and Saturday, Nov. 19, in Guntersville, Alabama, in partnership with the United Cherokee AniYunWiYa Nation.

"This course is designed to enable future veterinarians to meet the challenges and rewards associated with provision of veterinary health care to underserved communities,” said Dr. Dawn Boothe, a professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology. "The goal is to expose future veterinarians to the challenges encountered in the implementation of high quality veterinary outreach to local and distant underserved communities.”

The clinic is made possible by Dr. Deaton’s partnership with the college and his veterinary service in Centre. Dr. Deaton is the managing veterinarian at Nichols Animal Hospital and the owner of Deaton Veterinary Services, a mobile veterinary service for both companion animals and livestock.

The course is now in its third year at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to the clinic being conducted in Centre, the class plans another program in Kentucky during the university’s Christmas break.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is the South's original and nation's seventh oldest veterinary medical program, celebrating 126 years. We prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine, including private and public practice, industrial medicine, academics, and research. The college provides programs of instruction, research, outreach, and service that are in the best interests of the citizens of the state of Alabama, the region, the nation, and the world.