Vet Clinic students explore career choices


Senior Kelsey Donnell spends time with Okie, a 7-week-old German Pointer.

Every day, the students in Vet Clinic get out of school at fifth period, go to their working places and live slightly different lives from those of regular students’.

The requirements for taking Vet Clinic include getting a job at a local veterinarian clinic, fitting a double-block class into senior year schedules and committing 2 years to the program.

Shalley Boles has been teaching the class for eight years. In Vet Med, which is a prerequisite class for taking Vet Clinic, juniors make resumes and learn how to secure a job. Because the clinics have to be within 15 miles of the school building, Boles encourages her students to find a job close to home or school.

“Because the program has been around for at least 10 years, the clinics in the area know that at the beginning of the school years, students are going to look for internships, so it’s not really hard to find a job,” Boles said.

Boles majored in Agricultural Application at Tarleton State University and teaches Floral Design, Wildlife Management, Vet Med and Vet Clinic.

“It’s a very general major,” Boles said. “So I teach basically anything under the agricultural umbrella in our school.”

Senior Kelsey Donnell took Vet Clinic because she wanted to have hands-on experience in veterinary.

“I would be able to have experience in a vet clinic before my high school career was over,” Donnell said. “I feel like the faster you gain experience, the more likely you are to be noticed in the real world.”

Donnell has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since elementary school.

“I was just one of the few who actually stuck with my dream,” Donnell said. “And I will finally be able to say that I lived out my dream.”

She said that her ever-lasting passion for animals makes her suitable for this job. She has two dogs, Brandi and Nala, with her mother, one dog Missy with her father, one kitten Mya and one puppy Holly with her boyfriend.

“My dad and my brother found Missy on a farm when she was just a puppy,” Donnell said. “We just recently got Holly and I’m absolutely in love with her.”

According to Donnell, days at the vet clinic vary on how busy they are. On busy days, Donnell helps with walking the boarding dogs, trimming nails for the dogs and cats, giving them baths and preparing their vaccines for their annual exams. On slow days, the other intern and her make new files for the new clients, file files and do little projects around the clinic.

“I wish that I could be more hands on with the animals like giving them shots, but I obviously can’t do that yet,” Donnell said. “I would do anything to help the animals.”

However, Donnell does get to watch surgeries and sometimes, euthanasia.

“One of the saddest things at any clinic is having to watch an animal get put to sleep and seeing their owners have to suffer going through with the decision,” Donnell said. “One of the most interesting surgeries I’ve seen is an adult cat getting its right hind leg removed because it was crushed in 3 places. Interestingly enough, the cat adapted to not having his fourth leg rather well.”

Donnell said that both her mom and dad have supported her 100 percent of the way, by allowing her to take two classes outside of school, so she would be able to fit Vet Clinic into her schedule.

“I was very thankful for that because I know how much money those classes are,” Donnell said. “Also, they are both going to help me pay for my education, so I can focus on my studies.”

Like Donnell, senior Malissa Klemp plans to attend a vet school in her future. She said she is hoping to major in veterinary medicine and animal science or biology.

“According to my veterinarian, it’s hard to get into vet school,” Klemp said. “But if you’re smart enough to make it in and you can survive to pass all the classes required for that school, then you will normally do well.”

Klemp got her job in July and started off taking care of the animals. Now she can perform more duties.

“I’m able to do exams, do receptions and phone calls and check people out,” Klemp said. “And we get to watch the surgeries.”

The majority of the surgeries Klemp observes are dental, like tooth extractions, but on occasion they get tumor removals and open surgeries. According to Klemp, open surgeries are more interesting to do because she actually gets to see the organs and inner structure of an animal.

Animal surgeries are slightly different from human surgeries because dogs and cats of various sizes need different sizes of equipment.

“Sometimes it’s kind of weird to look at the animals knocked out,” Klemp said. “Like a little dog’s tongue hanging out and all that. It’s scary to watch little dogs having surgeries because they look so fragile.”

Klemp has one cat, one parrot and one bearded dragon at home.

“I really like exotic animals,” Klemp said. “But at the clinic, there are mostly dogs and cats, so I didn’t get to see as many species as I wanted to. That’s one bad thing about my job.”

Despite the challenges she has faced and difficult surgeries she has witnessed on the way, Klemp said taking Vet Clinic  has ultimately benefited her.

“I think that actually taking classes in a vet program has showed me what I want to pursue in my career,” Klemp said. “It’s important for me to get a head start.”