Pre-veterinary students gain firsthand experience at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.
By Micaela Myers
With her father in the military, Corinne Vaughan moved around a lot growing up. Her parents both attended the University of Wyoming, but she had different plans—that is, until she toured the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.
“When I took the tour, I knew I wanted to work here,” she says of the necropsy and receiving portion of the laboratory. “It was something that wasn’t available anywhere else.”
The fully accredited lab provides diagnostic services and performs animal disease research, while educating future veterinarians like Vaughan and her fellow student workers. “You don’t usually get this type of experience until your third year of veterinary school,” says Vaughan, a sophomore.
“The students work directly and intimately with four faculty board-certified veterinary pathologists/professors and a host of diagnostic staff members daily on diagnostic cases ranging from cats and dogs to cattle and horses to elk, moose, sage-grouse—you name it,” says Associate Professor Todd Cornish. “They are getting hands-on experience at a very high level that is very much in the real world—these are ranchers’ animals, pet owners’ animals and free-ranging wildlife of great significance to Wyoming. It’s a pretty rare and special opportunity.”
Junior Brookely Schamber of Pinedale, Wyo., agrees: “People who only get to intern at clinics with veterinarians don’t get to see all of the processes that go into diagnosing certain illnesses. And getting to do the necropsies is the best way to get experience with anatomy, because it’s hands-on.”
Sophomore Emma Rovani of Laramie, Wyo., explains that in order to be accepted into veterinary school, students need 1,000 hours of experience. She chose UW in part because of the opportunity to work at the lab. “It definitely sets you apart from other candidates when you’re applying to vet school or graduate school,” she says.
Like many of the students, Rovani also conducts undergraduate research. Her project with Professor Cornish studies the prevalence of adenovirus—which causes respiratory and other illnesses—in Wyoming’s deer fawns.
Rovani also plays the violin in the UW Symphony Orchestra, another opportunity that sets UW apart—the chance to play music as a non-music major.
Sophomore Maggie Johnson of Hanna, Wyo., was surprised how much the student workers are able to do at the lab. “You don’t get the opportunity to have that much hands-on experience anywhere else,” she says.
Johnson is also taking full advantage of her time at UW. She interned at Silver Spur Ranch last summer, and she plays and referees intramural sports and is vice president of the women’s fly-fishing club.
“UW is one of the top pre-vet schools in the nation,” says senior Lynnell Hanson of Newcastle, Wyo. “Samples from all over the surrounding region are sent to our lab for testing, allowing us to learn about many different diseases both local and foreign to our area.”
Each of the student workers plans to go into a veterinary field—from large animal to small animal and wildlife. With their immersive education at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, the students have a strong foundation for graduate school and their future careers.