500th Student Completes Studies at OHS Hospital

Alexis Johnson (right) during her rotation at OHS, under the supervision of Dr. Kirk Miller.
Alexis Johnson (right) during her rotation at OHS, under the supervision of Dr. Kirk Miller.

The Oregon Humane Society’s medical center reached a major milestone in June: a veterinary student from Moab, Utah became the 500th student to complete a required medical rotation at the OHS Holman Medical Center.

Unique Partnership between the Shelter and University

In a one-of-a-kind partnership between Oregon State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine and OHS, all fourth-year veterinary students at OSU must complete a required three-week primary care rotation course at the OHS hospital.

On June 11, Alexis Johnson became the 500th student to complete the course. Johnson will graduate from OSU a few days later and plans to return to her hometown of Moab, Utah to work in a veterinary clinic. “It was an awesome experience,” she said of her OHS rotation. “I got a lot of hands-on experience working with patients and seeing the kinds of cases I’ll see when I’m in a general practice.”

Students Gain Hands-On Experience

As part of their rotation, and under the supervision of OHS/OSU veterinarians, students perform about 65 surgeries, more than they do in four years of veterinary school. They also help diagnose cases, observe behavior assessments, work with OHS foster parents who are caring for ill pets, and more.

“The students are a valuable resource for shelter pets and become an important addition to the shelter’s medical team,” said Dr. Kirk Miller. Dr. Miller, an OSU clinical instructor, is the nation’s only university faculty member assigned full-time to a shelter-based teaching hospital. Dr. Miller instructs up to five students at a time during their rotation. Dormitories above the hospital provide housing for students.

The medical center, which is attached directly to the OHS shelter, performed more than 12,000 surgeries last year. The hospital’s 22-person medical team provides life-saving medical care to shelter pets and is a major reason OHS has a near-zero euthanasia rate for pets arriving at the shelter in need of medical care a typical owner would provide.

“These students are not only a great part of our medical team, they also get to see how a modern shelter functions,” said Dr. Kris Otteman, OHS Director of Shelter Medicine. “We know the students leave here better prepared for practice and ready to serve as advocates for shelter animals.”

About the Holman Medical Center

The Holman Medical Center, which opened in 2007, cares primarily for shelter animals, but also offers low-cost spay and neuter services to qualifying members of the public through the feline Spay & Save program.

OSU Vet Gazette – article on the 500th student to complete OHS rotation