Veterinary Science added to national CDE line-up

By Deb Buehler

With 15 to 20 states already doing a veterinary science career development event (CDE) of their own, it only made sense to consider adding a national level program. Two years ago a National FFA Organization gap analysis confirmed this need.

Working with a committee consisting of high school teachers, veterinarians, vet assistants and technicians, the new national veterinary science CDE was formulated. Presented at a workshop at the most recent convention, the CDE will be launched as a pilot event this year and officially in 2013.

The pilot year
"This year’s vet science CDE will be run just like a normal year,” explained Melissa Dunkel, education specialist for CDEs. “Each state can bring up to two teams that will participate in hands-on activities. After each activity, committee members will explain the focus and describe how to do well. No scholarships or plaques will be awarded, and everyone will know what to expect for the first official event in 2013."

Dunkel explained that advisors and educators can refer to the 2012-2016 Veterinary Science CDE Handbook available on the veterinary science webpage on ffa.org where they will find tons of information about the event. "We highly recommend that students visit veterinary offices to observe procedures that are part of the event," she stated. "The team activities are concentrated on what a veterinary team looks like and how it operates."

Gaining insight into veterinary careers
Paige A. Allen, MS, RVT and instructional technologist at Purdue University is excited about this CDE because so many have been asking for it for so long.

“We are really trying to focus on educating students and agriculture teachers about the career opportunities in veterinary medicine,” Allen explained.

Activities within the CDE enable students to see the careers of veterinarians, assistants and farm managers. Real-world teams include veterinary staff as well as farm managers and those individuals providing direct care. Student teams will need to consider interviewing and shadowing all of these related positions to learn more about career opportunities and what each individual does in relation to keeping animals healthy.

With math and science as the foundation for veterinary science, CDE teams will complete three practicum experiences: a math application where students learn about calculating drug dosages and filling prescriptions; a handling and restraint practicum involving techniques such as restraining a dog and haltering a large animal; and a clinical procedures practicum that goes over setting up a fecal flotation and preparing a microscope slide with a blood smear – skills specific to lab skills.

Students will talk with veterinarians, techs and assistants, and farm managers to learn about their roles and how they help in any given situation. Allen said they should also talk with receptionists to learn about the costs of medical care, the billing process and the communication skills needed to work with different clients.

In addition to practicum work, students will answer questions about two scenarios. They will write a persuasive letter about an issue or describe a communication with a client about an animal. A written exam with multiple choice questions will cover a multitude of topics as well.

“This year will provide us with good information about the CDE,” Allen said. “We will know how we can make it better for 2013. This year is a learning curve for students and the committee.”