WSU's Veterinary School students learn hands-on using cadavers

PULLMAN, WA - Washington State University is known for its School of Veterinary Medicine, and its ability to prepare students to save animal lives.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin brings us inside their Clinical Simulation Lab and explains how students are preping for surgery.

We're at Washington State University's School of Veterinary Medicine and we're about to check out the cadaver lab in their Clinical Simulation Center.

"They're getting ready for their spays, so they're doing ovariohysterectomies, taking out the ovaries and the uterus in dogs," said WSU School of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Simulation Center Director Julie Cary.

When it comes to getting hands-on experience in the field of veterinary medicine, these students tell us working on a cadaver is the best way to prepare for a real patient.

"Cadaver skin isn't quite the same as a live animal, the tissues are a little bit dehydrated," said WSU Vet Med Student Lance Parker. "But it's closer to the real thing."

"There's subtle differences, but as far as practicing techniques, they work really, really, really well," said WSU Vet Med Student Misty McNeil White.

The cadavers are dogs or cats that have been euthanized for other reasons and donated to the school. Each animal can help students learn multiple procedures.

"Anything from removing diseased eyes, to taking off masses, and repairing wounds," said Cary.

Professor Julie Cary is the director of the Clinical Simulation Center. She said it's a place where students can practice their technique in a casual setting, and both the students and patients reap the benefits.

"We're seeing dramatic decreases in their stress levels," said Cary. "We're seeing increases in their competence levels in their first live animal surgeries, a lot less trauma to the animals themselves, a less bruising."

"I feel much more competent with my tissue handling, my different patterns, when you would use those patterns," said McNeil White.

The Clinical Simulation Center is a fairly new concept, and Cary said they'll expand their programming over the next few years to include things like virtual reality.

The cadavers usually come from local shelters after the animal has been euthanized for other reasons. Some pet owners also donate their dogs or cats to science after they pass away.