Vet camp offers experience for students

By Kaitlyn Byrne

MSU Office of Ag Communications


Students interested in veterinary school had an opportunity to get an inside look at the profession during the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Camp.

During the three-day camp, 13- to 16-year-olds attended labs taught by MSU College of Veterinary Medicine faculty and participated in hands-on workshops.

Brandi Van Ormer, director of communications for the college, said the camp strives to give students a realistic picture of what it is like to be a veterinary student.

“Typically, we show them both the large and small animal side of things, from horses and cows to cats and dogs,” Van Ormer said. “Campers get to do swabs and examine them under the microscope, practice basic suturing techniques, make dental molds and so much more. It’s all interactive.”

Van Ormer said the purpose of the camp is to show students different aspects of the profession so they can decide if veterinary school is the path they want to pursue.

“This camp is a crash course in what a real veterinary student would experience during his or her first and second year in our DVM program,” Van Ormer said. “Because campers get to really see what vet school is all about, they can make better decisions about whether or not veterinary medicine is for them.”

Van Ormer said after camp, the students are often convinced they want to be veterinarians, but some realize veterinary medicine is not what they want to do. In addition to the hands-on experiences, Van Ormer said the faculty makes sure students understand the academic requirements for admission to veterinary college, as well as different career options within the profession.

“There’s so much you can do in veterinary medicine,” Van Ormer said. “We want our campers to know as much as possible so they can best choose what fits their interests. The campers gain a better sense of what to do on their own to feed their enthusiasm and learn more. They often start volunteering at shelters and their local veterinarian’s office to learn as much as they can.”

In addition to helping high school students, Van Ormer said the camp also benefits the MSU students who spend months planning the camp each year. She said the doctor of veterinary medicine and veterinary technology students work with faculty to design the labs and gather supplies needed for the workshops.

“It benefits them in so many ways, such as developing organizational and problem-solving skills, not to mention skills in education and outreach,” Van Ormer said. “The best part is they learn sharing their passion is energizing and a wonderful way to give back to the community.”

Kim Smith, a veterinary student and camp coordinator, said working with the campers reminds her why she decided to go to veterinary college in the first place.

“Vet school can be draining, exhausting and disheartening at times when you work so hard and can’t always be perfect,” she said. “But these campers come in with enthusiasm and give me motivation by reminding me why I’m here. So many kids want to grow up to be vets, and a lot don’t get to do that. I’m living a little kid’s dream.”