HSVMA Partners with SIRVS to Host Suturing Lab

April 27, 2010

By Jaimi Johnson

HSVMA recently partnered with the Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services (SIRVS) to host a suturing lab for students at the University of Minnesota, organized by SIRVS executive council member Heidi McDevitt and myself.

Dr. Peterman instructs UMN student
Sara Eno, a UMN vet student, gets some valuable suturing training advice from Dr. Morgan Peterman, HSVMA Veterinary Field Director.
Jaimi Johnson

Recognizing an unmet need for veterinary services on Native American reservations in Minnesota, an ambitious group of students formed the SIRVS organization, which has conducted three wellness clinics in the last year throughout Minnesota, providing preventative care and physical examinations to hundreds of animals. Many SIRVS volunteers have also participated in HSVMA Field Services clinics and have found that the SIRVS clinics give them a chance to apply the valuable medical and client communication skills gained as a Field Services volunteer to assist animals and people in Minnesota.

Following brief presentations about SIRVS and HSVMA, the thirty lab participants learned suturing tips from Dr. Morgan Peterman, HSVMA Veterinary Field Director. The students enjoyed two hours of one-on-one instruction provided by Dr. Peterman, Dr. Susan Krebsach (HSVMA Veterinary Consultant), fourth-year Field Service veterinary student alumni, and Dr. Sue Spence, a local shelter veterinarian.

Practice Makes Perfect

The majority of the participants were second-year students who were preparing for their first spay/neuter surgeries the following week; other participants included third-year students who wanted to perfect their techniques prior to clinical rotations, and a few ambitious first-year students who were either SIRVS volunteers or plan to participate in a field experience this summer.

Many of the participants were not currently SIRVS volunteers, nor had they participated in an HSVMA Field Services clinic, so in addition to learning suturing techniques, this event also allowed students to learn about opportunities to volunteer with SIRVS locally and with HSVMA Field Services on a national level. Both groups have a shared mission of addressing animal overpopulation and wellness issues in a humane manner, through the provisioning of veterinary services to underserved communities.

Student practices suture technique
Victoria Klibanoff, a UMN vet student, HSVMA Field Services participant and SIRVS volunteer, practices her technique as Dr. Sue Spence, a shelter veterinarian at Animal Humane Society, provides guidance.
Jaimi Johnson

The suturing lab highlighted the fact that HSVMA provides resources that can complement the mission of established student organizations, even on campuses that do not currently have an HSVMA student chapter. By introducing students to HSVMA through Speakers Bureau presentations or labs, there is increased awareness of and appreciation for the mission of HSVMA, which can lead to increased support for the formation of an HSVMA student chapter.

According to Ingrid Balsa, a Field Services participant and SIRVS volunteer, "I just finished my first student surgery spay-neuter lab. I was infinitely more prepared for this lab because of the experiences of both the Field Service Trip and the guided practice provided at the suturing wet lab. These ultimately allowed me to treat my patient at school in a more efficient and educated manner, bettering his quality of care."

Jaimi Johnson is a veterinary student, as well as the HSVMA student representative, at the University of Minnesota and will graduate in 2012. She is an active SIRVS volunteer and plans to pursue a career in shelter medicine upon graduation.