Young alum thriving in veterinary school

Andrea Russell '19 is halfway to her DVM degree at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Halfway to honing her already sharp clinical skills. Halfway to her career dream of becoming a veterinarian in general practice. And, she credits her Heidelberg experience for helping to set her up for success.

Although Ohio State’s DVM program is intense and rigorous, Andrea has already experienced great success and was awarded a major scholarship toward her studies. “I have been very successful in my studies thus far, and my clinical skills have exceeded that which is expected for students at this point in our curriculum,” she says. “I owe much of this success to my training in both the Longaker Animal Lab and our anatomy labs at Heidelberg.”

Additionally, Andrea got great hands-on experience during her undergrad years, working part time at the Fremont Animal Hospital for three of those years. As she has progressed through her DMV program, she returned this summer to work at the hospital. That early training has been equally valuable career prep, and she’s expanded the tasks she can now do, including spays and neuters on cats and dogs.

Anatomy, Animal Labs = great career prep

In the Longaker Animal Lab, Andrea was part of many interesting projects, both her own and those of other students. “That gave me such great experience with getting started in animal care,” she says. “I learned how to suture, which gave me a leg up in veterinary school, as we learned various suture patterns that I already had experience within our very first semester. It also came in handy for basic animal handling skills and taught me a lot about how to assess animal behaviors.”

Working in the lab also had another benefit: Andrea got to share her passion for animal care with other students. She led lab tours and worked with high school students and ‘Berg underclassmen to try to spark their interest in the field which she has dreamed about since she was a child.

“Obviously, getting to take care of animals in the lab and administering medications, handling them, etc., was invaluable for my future in veterinary medicine, but I also really loved being able to share my passion with others in hopes of interesting them in a career in this field.”

Andrea also launched her own full-fledged research project that dealt with healing rat wounds with a novel antibiotic that she had derived from soil in her microbiology class at Heidelberg. Her research provided an answer to a long-standing issue: Finding an effective bandaging technique for rat subjects.

“Because of this, I was able to derive a whole new bandaging technique that proved to be very effective for wound healing assays,” she explains. 

That experience had additional benefits: It set Andrea apart from other veterinary students and taught her so much about wound healing and animal welfare – lessons she will take with her as a veterinarian.

Faculty mentoring is key

One key to student success is faculty mentoring from a professor who holds them accountable, provides support along the way. Biology professor Dr. Pam Faber was that mentor for Andrea. 

“Dr. Faber was always a great resource for me if I needed help. She made sure I was thinking outside the box and getting outside of my comfort zone to make sure I was setting me up for success,” she says.

She also appreciated two connections that Pam helped her make with ‘Berg alumni who had attended veterinary school. The alums provided valuable insights to Andrea as she interviewed for vet school.

That same level of support greeted her at OSU. “The professors and doctors at the vet school are not intimidating and they are so incredibly helpful when you need them. They truly are invested in your success and making sure that you achieve your ultimate goal: adding the ‘DVM’ title to your name.”

The world is her oyster

One thing that grad school has provided is clarity on Andrea’s specialty, which she originally thought would be surgery. She has instead decided on general practice medicine, because of the variety and opportunity to learn about many different areas. 

In general practice, you can perform really any surgery within your comfort zone and you get to see so many interesting cases, she says.

After her second year at OSU, Andrea was awarded the David D. and Nancy M. Spindler Endowed Scholarship to help defray the cost of her education.

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Announcements

For any student (undergraduate and graduate) who plans to graduate December 2021, May 2022

It's Heidelberg Homecoming! Homecoming is a weeklong celebration of events where students and alumni together honor their Sweet Alma Home. Starting Friday, September 24, students can nominate an outstanding Heidelberg senior to Homecoming Court.
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The next deadline for grants from the Pepsi Fund and the Martha and Ernest Hammel Student Research Fund to support student research and/or travel to professional conferences is October 1, 2021.