Medicine student

ASU pre-vet medical student cares for animals on Navajo land

July 15, 2022

For Jennifer Kobs, an Applied Biological Sciences student at Arizona State University, two days in June were intense, tiring and fulfilling as she helped neuter animals in the Navajo Nation in northern New Mexico.

Kobs, a student of Barrett, The Honors College, who is focusing on pre-vet medicine with a certificate in wildlife management, attended the GoPawesome Spay & Neuter Surgical Instruction and Training Course in Gallup, New Mexico , from June 15 to 17. Barrett Honors College funded Kobs’ participation in the program, which took place in a school gymnasium equipped with surgical tables and other equipment.

Applied Biological Sciences and Pre-Vet Medicine student Jennifer Kobs (right) helps operate on a canine patient at the GoPawesome Spaying and Neutering Clinic in Gallup, New Mexico, June 15-17.
Download Full Image

The program is an intense two-day surgical training course that offers veterinary students of all levels the opportunity to gain neutering experience by working alongside licensed veterinarians who work to improve their skills and save time in surgery.

It also provides much-needed veterinary care to dogs and cats on Navajo lands in the Four Corners region of northern Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. In addition to neutering and neutering procedures, the program offers vaccinations and treatments for fleas, ticks and worms.

Program participants work with GoPawesome veterinarians, who are skilled in neutering and high-volume neutering techniques, and are assisted by veterinary technicians.

“It was my first high volume experience so I wasn’t sure what the clinical environment would be like. I was initially scared and nervous about participating as I didn’t know how to how active I was going to get,” said Kobs, a first-generation college student from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It turned out that she got a lot of hands-on experience attending surgeries throughout a busy schedule on both days.

“On the first morning, our day started at 5 a.m. The travel time to the clinic was 1.5 hours and we started the clinic setup at 7:45 a.m. before starting the operation at 9:30 a.m. From then on, we worked our shifts, non-stop, until our final surgeries around 6 p.m.,” Kobs said.

Kobs was assigned to different skill-based positions and tasks within a high volume spaying and neutering veterinary clinic.

In the “preparation” area, she assisted with surgical preparation, which included injecting medications like antibiotics and painkillers, catheter placement, intubation, and shaving of the surgical site.

While assisting with anesthesia, she was responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the anesthesia rebreathing and non-breathing system, which included checking flow lines and weighing waste gas canisters after each patient. Other tasks included confirming the correct flow of isoflurane, a general anesthetic, and checking vital signs.

ASU student Jennifer Kobs wearing scrubs and holding a puppy while smiling at a veterinary clinic.

Jennifer Kobs aims to become a veterinarian working with animals in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. Photo courtesy Jennifer Kobs

She also directly assisted surgeries by passing instruments to the doctor, scrubbing the surgical site, and ensuring surgical sterility. She learned surgical procedures and techniques and practiced suturing under the supervision of a doctor.

“It was probably the most stressful and exciting part of the experience, because I was able to directly witness the surgeries,” she said, adding that she had learned the anatomy of the organs breeding stock and the surgical steps required for neutering and sterilization. to prevent future litters of feral cats and dogs.

“The anesthesia was the most difficult part of the experience on both days, due to the nature of this position, as the doctor relies on you to read the appropriate cues (body movement, pupillary response, etc.) to ensure safe administration of anesthetic.. By the end of the experience, I had placed seven to nine catheters and attended over 10 surgeries, which was far more than I expected to practice in two days. I really enjoyed this program, but I would only recommend it to pre-vet students who have had previous experience in anesthesia or surgery, due to the intensity of the environment. “Kobs said.

Kobs said his goal was to attend veterinary school and work in general medicine at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. She is also interested in providing in-home euthanasia services for end-of-life pets.

“GoPawesome has helped me get out of my comfort zone into a new program focused on medicine that I haven’t been able to practice yet, and has given me additional experience that I will eventually build on in my life. the future,” she said.