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K-State Today

April 18, 2024

College of Veterinary Medicine Community Outreach team named recipient of 2024 Excellence in Engagement Award

Submitted by Mirna Bonilla Salazar

VetMed Community Outreach team

The Community Outreach team in the College of Veterinary Medicine is the recipient of the 2024 Kansas State University Excellence in Engagement Award for high-impact educational practices with veterinary students and community outreach efforts for vulnerable populations.

Established in 2011, the Kansas State University Excellence in Engagement Award highlights excellence in engaged scholarship via research, teaching and outreach. The award recognizes initiatives demonstrating innovative and sustained efforts in university-community engagement, positively impacting university and community partners.

The College of Veterinary Medicine Community Outreach rotation provides experiences for senior veterinary students to deliver basic medical care to pets owned by vulnerable populations. The team partners with local veterinarians and local human health care providers to deliver services to pets and people. These services are provided at no cost for pets through 110 scheduled OneHealth community outreach events each year in Manhattan, Topeka, Wichita and Kansas City.

"Through community outreach events, DVM students provide routine health care for animals that have never been seen by a veterinarian. Routine rabies vaccination and deworming for pets are critical for both animal and human health care," said Bonnie Rush, Hodes family dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

"In addition, students assess and treat common medical conditions and provide pet care advice to owners. The program provides an opportunity for student training that cannot be replicated in any other venue and serves our land-grant mission for outreach and engagement for Kansans."

The Community Outreach team is led by Ron Orchard, DVM, MPH, DAWA. Orchard's goal is to better prepare veterinarians to work with pet owners from all backgrounds by empowering both the doctor and the client. He emphasizes a "goal-standard of care" with every interaction his team comes across. These methods help students develop an understanding that public health interventions often require creativity and meeting constituents where they are is essential.

College of Veterinary Medicine Outreach Team nominators said this partnership has quadrupled the capacity to provide services to more families and has changed lives for the better.

The Street Dog Coalition, or SDC, Topeka team said, "Our collaboration with Dr. Orchard has inspired us to earnestly pursue new ideas and to consider how we might be able to create and share best practices with others in the field and with the public at large."

Participating veterinary students have also indicated they are more practice-ready upon graduation and are more likely to engage in philanthropic activities post-graduation.

Since 2015, veterinary students have performed more than 44,000 surgical sterilization procedures for animals surrendered to shelters through the original shelter medicine program. The Wellness on Wheels program has serviced 5,000 pets in partnership with local veterinarians, SDC-Topeka Team, Street Medicine for KC, the Topeka Rescue Mission, Valeo Behavioral Health Care, Everybody Counts, Manhattan's Vineyard Community Church, Jefferson, County Pet Project, Pet Resource Center Kansas City, and the Riley County Health Department.
Learn more about the College of Veterinary Medicine engagement across Kansas.

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