Kids Learn About Veterinary Medicine From Purdue Vets

When children want to learn what it’s like to be a veterinarian, the best people to learn it from are those in veterinary medicine.

Someone once told me that the best advice they received was to start early on their career path. He suggested knowing what you want to do before starting high school and then working your way toward that career from that point on. Others, however, such as those at Purdue University, start kids on their career paths even earlier than that. In fact, they start them on it in kindergarten.

Every week at the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, Indiana, children from kindergarten through fourth grade meet to learn about veterinary medicine from professionals in the field as well as veterinary professors and students through a program called Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses, according to JConline. The program began in 2009. Back then it was a classroom-designed curriculum in which Purdue professor Sandra San Miguel, DVM, would visit the classrooms to speak with the children about veterinary medicine. However, teachers had difficulty finding the time to incorporate the lesson and San Miguel’s visit into their existing curriculum, leading Dr. San Miguel to start an after-school program. She, along with her team, teaches the kids about anatomy, raising monarch butterflies, asthmatic horses and more. To San Miguel, it was successful from the get-go.

"The first time we did this, when I walked into the community center and all the cubbies had (child-size) scrubs, I about cried. I was like, how beautiful is that?" San Miguel told JConline. "My goal is that cubbies everywhere have scrubs in them."

The Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses program has been so successful that Purdue University was granted $1.26 million to expand it across the nation. San Miguel hopes that other veterinary schools will participate, adding that the program will be offered in both English and Spanish, according to JConline.

As for the kids, they couldn’t be more excited. Eight-year-old Amelie Coolman told JConline, “I like vet med so much, and this is why I come to Hanna. I just love it so much.”

Namiya Souders, 6, added, “Someday I’m going to be a veterinarian, too.”

The children’s praise of the program represents its success more than anything else.

"Our goal is to have every kid see themselves in the profession because if we don't reflect society, we will rapidly become irrelevant," San Miguel told JConline. "If we start early, hopefully I'm going to see these kids here at Purdue Veterinary College, and they are going to be our future veterinarians that are curing cancer."

What do you think of the Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses program?

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