On April 1, the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine opened its doors to host the first open house since 2018.
The event was not held in 2019 due to UGA hosting the Student American Veterinary Medical Association Symposium, or in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The return of the open house was overall a success, according to first year vet student Matt Sartorato. Veterinary students, faculty and various members of the community attended the open house.
“I wasn’t sure if everyone was going to hear about the event with such short notice,” said Sartorato. “It’s surpassing my expectations because each event has had a line. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to really be enjoying it.”
Mallory Mitchell, another organizer of the event and second year vet student, echoed a similar sentiment.
“I was definitely not expecting this much of a turnout,” said Mitchell. “So I’m excited that there are so many people here”.
Attendees were greeted by vet school students who were available if they had any questions. Among the activities offered was a virtual tour of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and a vet school Q&A.
The Q&A featured first-year students and anyone who wanted to know more about going into the veterinary profession could ask questions. Sessions for the panel were held every 30 minutes.
In the reading room, a parasitology display drew in attendees wanting to learn about identifying common ticks and let them create a tick out of play-dough and participate in a tick race. The reading room also featured a club fair, offering information about clubs such as the public health and surgery clubs.
Outside featured a dog petting booth, the chance to read to a dog and a performance arena. The arena held performances from the Athena Athletes Vaulting Club, the ACCPD K-9 Unit, a Parade of Dog Breeds and the Northeast Georgia Free Spirits Equestrian Drill Team.
CVM partnered with UGA Transportation and Parking Services, providing parking at the softball field lots and a shuttle service through UGA buses.
The event was free for everyone, however tickets could be purchased and exchanged for other attractions and both concessions and merchandise were sold.
Among the activities offered with ticket purchases were professional photos at the zoo and exotic display worth five tickets. All proceeds from the event went towards funding for first and second year students to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.
Mitchell worked closely with Sartorato to organize the event. They both worked on contacting everyone they needed to organize the event.
“We actually involve a lot of our students. In each committee, we create chairs so they’re the people in charge of that station,” Mitchell said.
The organizers were aware of the risk of COVID-19 during the planning of the open house.
“We were told to hold off for a well because of changing CDC recommendations. We wanted to make sure that above all else, community safety was at the forefront of planning,” Mitchell said.
Once the go-ahead was given, they began to contact schools, put up flyers and ask people to spread the word.
The open house showed off the school’s new anatomy lab, which was completed last semester. The lab has new features that allow it to be a safe place to host events.
“We didn’t want any risk of spreading COVID with this event. We decided to host the majority of the events in our brand new anatomy lab,” Sartorato said. “It has a very advanced and impressive air circulation system. We thought that space would be a great and safe place to host a majority of our indoor Open House events.”
At the lab, attendees could view an anatomy display, learn how ultrasounds are performed, see how an endoscopy is performed and visit a zoo and exotics display.
The zoo and exotics display had various animals including a giant bunny, chickens, and horses. The lab also had an area where attendees could take a photo with a painting created by first year vet school students in the background.
Puliyur MohanKumar, a biomedical sciences professor known by students as “Dr. MK,” said he believes the anatomy lab is one of the more prominent aspects of the program.
“All the technology that we have put together in the anatomy lab to do various things like virtual dissection and ultrasounding,” MohanKumar said. “That stands out. No other school has that, so we are very proud of that”.
One of the more popular events was the teddy bear surgery. Here, attendees could sign up to learn about surgery and perform one on a teddy bear.
Schools such as Oconee County Elementary, JJ Harris Elementary, a small group of students from the Barrow County 4H Extension and the Double Helix Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math school, were in attendance.
Andrea Wilson, whose son attends Double Helix, said her son’s love for science and reptiles drew them to the open house.
“The depth of knowledge at the individual booths. The ones covering those areas seem to have very in-depth knowledge. They seem eager and willing to share it with the kids,” Wilson said were what stood out most at the open house.
“For the kids, this is an excellent profession for them to consider if you are interested or passionate about animals or medicine in general,” MohanKumar said. “We hope the general public see how passionate we are about animals. How UGA is passionate about producing the future veterinarians”.
One of the most unique aspects of the open house is that the veterinary students are the ones behind all the planning that goes into it. Many students were seen helping run the event and providing their own knowledge to teach others.
“Just to get into vet school, we all had to display a lot of passion and desire to learn more and to teach about veterinary medicine,” Sartorato said. “Having that drive makes us able to throw this event. We are able to reflect what we do day to day here.”