The Department of Natural Science is celebrating the move and equipment upgrade of its award-winning Simulation Veterinary Clinic.
The clinic, which was the first of its kind when it originally opened in 2009, now has brand-new premises designed to help with student learning. “Our Veterinary Nurses Angela Gussey and Laura Harvey had a leading role in creating this purpose-built simulation clinic, so that when students come in, it has a clinic feel to it,” says Dr. Sabina Darke, Programme Leader of the Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. “It gives students a chance to get familiar with all the equipment before being expected to deal with new equipment on live animals. It’s about getting them used to the practical side of things - like handling syringes and needles or the infusion pumps - so when they go into the real clinic, they can focus on the animal. This is not just important to reduce stress for students during these exciting first experiences in the Unitec Veterinary Hospital but also for animal welfare reasons.”
The clinic now has a reception area, simulation animals with a heart beat and fake veins, new sinks, an anaesthetic machine, an autoclave, multiple examination tables, dental equipment, and an x-ray viewer. “We use all this equipment to show them how things work; which buttons to push on the examination tables to get them to go up and down, or how to hang an x-ray according to international standards. It might seem like they’re little things, but if you’re in the clinic for the first time, and you have them thrown at you all at once, it’s quite challenging,” says Darke.
The simulation clinic is not designed to replace the experience they will gain in an actual clinic; it’s more about easing students into the real life environment, says Darke. “You can do as much as you like on a stuffed animal, it’s always going to be difficult when you work with a real animal for the first time. But at least knowing how the theory works, how to use the equipment, means it will be less scary for the animal and the student if they know the basics of what they’re doing with them.”
The new clinic will be used by all Natural Sciences students, but in particular those completing the two-year Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. “It’s a fantastic environment for students to be in, because they can see what it’s really going to be like to work as a veterinary nurse,” says Darke. “It makes them better employees, because it helps them better understand what they need to get out of their studies. They actually realise where they’re going, what the actual outcome of their qualification will be.”