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Student learns veterinary skills with “paws on” internship

August 31, 2015
KOKOMO, Ind. — As the little brown dog sleeps peacefully, Taylor Fruth leans over with her stethoscope, listening to his heartbeat. Satisfied, she gently trims his nails, cleans his ears, and scans him for a microchip.

Not finding a chip, she uses a pre-loaded syringe to inject one near the dog’s shoulder, and then turns him to his other side as he begins to awake. Carefully, she removes his breathing tube, and pats him several times, while spraying a Caro syrup solution on his tongue, to keep his blood sugar levels up.

When he is fully awake, Fruth wraps him in his blanket and carries him back to his kennel, returning to find her next patient waiting for her.

It’s a busy Friday, with one surgery after another, at 4 Precious Paws, a Kokomo-based low-cost spaying and neutering clinic. Fruth, a biology major at Indiana University Kokomo, works as a veterinary assistant, hired after completing an internship there.

“This opportunity confirmed to me that I want to be a veterinarian,” said Fruth, from Arcadia. “The vets show me how to do the procedures, and I’m able to watch and observe their techniques. I’m getting hands-on experience preparing the cats and dogs for surgery and monitoring them in recovery after their surgeries. It’s a lot of valuable experiences, and I’m having fun doing it.”

Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences, said IU Kokomo’s biology degree includes a pre-veterinary track, preparing students for successful admission to veterinary programs after graduation.

“We are in regular contact with Purdue University to ensure our curriculum meets admission requirements for the veterinary medicine program on their campus,” he said. “We encourage our students to contact local veterinarians for internship and job shadowing experiences. Also, we can help them reach out to those professionals who have close connections with IU Kokomo, including some who graduated from our program.”

Julie Wilson, 4 Precious Paws co-founder and director, said veterinary school admission is competitive, and the internship and job will help Fruth stand out from other candidates when she applies.

“That hands-on experience is so important for students who want to be veterinarians,” she said. “It will give her a leg up. She’s learning every step in animal care.”

Wilson was happy to hire Fruth after the internship.

“You can see Taylor has a true love for the animals, and she works her tail off,” Wilson said. “She asks questions, and she wants to learn everything she can.”

Fruth works about three days per week, and said the hours can be long, especially on days of vaccination clinics. Some days they have 20 patients, and one day they had 40 come through.

“I enjoy all of it,” she said. “I really like the animals, and I’m learning how to work with them. Some of them are really calm, and some of them are really high-strung and hyper.”

She appreciates being able to work directly with veterinarians, who show her step-by-step what they are doing, so she can see the techniques in details. Her duties vary from day to day, depending on where she is needed, and sometimes include assisting during surgery.

She expects the experience also will help her succeed in her classes.

“It will prepare me for the subjects I’m learning about, and the practical applications for them,” she said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 08/31/2015