Shelter Medicine

In March 2012, Midwestern University in Glendale identified a need both for a localized veterinary healthcare training program and for veterinary clinical, research, and community outreach services in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The University's adoption of the One Health Initiative, which fosters collaboration between specialists in human and animal medicine and research, was a key strategic factor in the CVM's development. Midwestern's emphasis on patient-centered healthcare education allows for a significant crossover between human and animal care.

College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) students benefit from highly experienced faculty who are committed to teaching and in the process can also help local veterinarians with difficult cases. Experiential education is a centerpiece of the CVM's curriculum, and students are exposed to case scenarios as early as their first year. Faculty and students combine their skills and specialties to offer patient care both at Midwestern University-hosted facilities and with mobile clinical programs.

At the end of 2015, the College of Veterinary Medicine undertook a new community initiative, backed by the generosity of Phoenix-based PetSmart Charities, to develop a state-of-the-art Midwestern University Mobile Clinic. The new Mobile Clinic was built from the ground up as a platform to provide hands-on shelter medicine experience for Midwestern's students while bringing surgical services and basic medical care to animals in remote locations and shelters.

Spearheaded by Rachael Kreisler, V.M.D., M.S.C.E., Assistant Professor, whose practice is limited to shelter medicine, the Mobile Clinic is utilized for weekend trips to provide spay and neuter surgeries and animal care for community shelter partners such as the HALO Animal Rescue and the Animal Defense League of Arizona (ADLA), as well as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian community. The Clinic also makes monthly visits to the LifeBridge resource center as part of Midwestern University's Health Outreach through Medical Education (H.O.M.E.) program, which provides multidisciplinary healthcare services to the homeless.

The Mobile Clinic is ideal for resource-limited shelter and community environments, areas with either a total lack of access or restricted access to veterinary services. The Mobile Clinic also functions as a traveling center for Trap Neuter Release (TNR) events to spay and neuter stray cats.

Working with the Mobile Clinic, veterinary students at all stages of their education receive first-hand, experiential education. First-year veterinary students provide check-in, preparatory assistance, examinations, vaccinations, and cat neuters, while second- through fourth-year student volunteers handle surgical and anesthetic duties, supervised by Dr. Kreisler and other CVM faculty. Shelter medicine and pet care in remote or isolated communities also exposes them to cases that otherwise would only be reviewable in abstract textbook examples.


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