Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center is celebrating 26 years of March Madness, a program designed to give fourth-year students intensive experience in medical and surgical care of farm animals, including cows, sheep, goats, pigs and alpacas. This year, March Madness runs March 2-27.
“This is the capstone of the senior year for our students who are interested in veterinary practice for food animals once they graduate,” said Ray Sweeney, VMD, chief of large animal internal medicine and ophthalmology.
Owners who participate in the program receive service discounts.
“To encourage owners to send these cases to New Bolton Center for this rotation, the school underwrites some of the hospitalization charges so the seniors have a concentrated number of food-animal cases to work on,” Dr. Sweeney said. “Under supervision, they get to take more responsibility and do more of the hands-on work with these animals than they normally would up to this point in their veterinary training.”
More than 100 animals participate in the program each year, according to Penn Vet. Many referring vets will recommend their patients come to New Bolton Center during this time, even though they might normally handle the case on the farm, the school further noted.
“We really appreciate the local vets’ support for this program, as well as our own field service doctors who refer many of our cases,” Sweeney said.
Some of the conditions students take on include treating twisted stomachs in dairy cows, correcting umbilical hernias, castrations and dehornings, to name a few.
“It’s one of the last rotations the students have before they graduate and put that VMD after their names,” Sweeney said. “At this point they are highly trained and skilled and ready to go out and practice veterinary medicine. We really let them spread their wings before we push them out of the nest.”