Reaching UP calls for student volunteers

Veterinary student opportunities open for November clinic

The life-changing veterinary Group-Volunteers-ReachingUPvolunteer experience of Reaching UP is now open to students as well as licensed professionals. Veterinary students now have the opportunity to help the unique community of Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico, while earning valuable time in a MASH clinic setting.

The Reaching UP program aims to positively impact animal health, animal welfare, and public health in underserved populations though high-quality, high volume (HQHV) spay and neuter, as well as preventive care services. Student volunteers now have the opportunity to aid this mission by providing preventive care services and education to community members as well as support for the surgical team made up of AVMA member veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

“Integration of veterinary students into the program affords them an opportunity to learn how to identify and address the challenges of serving unique communities,” said Dr. Kendall Houlihan, Assistant Director in the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Division and Reach UP program manager. “Much like a student internship, this clinic will provide a valuable learning experience for a student considering a career with an animal welfare, public health, and/or international focus.”

Rather than directly performing surgery, students will instead be involved in pre-surgical assessment, anesthetic monitoring, and recovery processes. Students will also play a role in the community outreach and preventive care aspects of Reaching UP, offering them the chance to engage with the people of Pueblo of Laguna.

“Students will have the opportunity to spend time with tribal health officials to better understand animal and public health and safety issues in populations with limited access to veterinary care,” said Dr. Houlihan.

Exposure to these unique communities demonstrates how differences in experiences, traditions, values, and socioeconomic conditions can affect a veterinarian’s ability to deliver care. Past veterinary volunteers have emphasized the eye-opening nature of the relationships they made during their time at the clinic, which often reignited their love for the veterinary profession.

Veterinary volunteer Dr. Christa Lloyd was struck by the resilience of a dog that arrived at the April Reaching UP clinic in need of emergency veterinary care. Lucky had been a victim of a dog attack and had nearly drowned in a sewage river. By the August clinic, he had made a full recovery and was able to receive preventive care. He was neutered, microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and DAP, dewormed, and given flea/tick prevention.

exam-w-owners-400“Lucky was an example of how these animals teach you the true limits of what a body can handle,” said Dr. Lloyd, “and remind me not to give up hope too soon.”

The Reaching UP experience impacts each volunteer’s ability to deliver veterinary care, fosters creativity in delivering education and services, and increases the volunteers’ appreciation of “One Health.”

Student volunteers have the opportunity to join the AVMA November 17 – 20 for a Reaching UP clinic in New Mexico. Accepted students will receive food and lodging during the clinic as well as up to $500 toward travel costs. The student application deadline for the November clinic is September 23, and student volunteers will be selected by September 30. To apply, please complete the application and submit it to Dr. Kendall Houlihan via email at

Thank you to the Banfield Foundation for funding the 2016 Reaching UP Program.

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