Filliquist B, Kapatkin AS, Vernau KM, Nakatani JY, Chou PY, Ilkiw JE . Training Surgical Residents Utilizing an Animal Shelter Fracture Program. J Vet Med Educ. 2022 Dec;49(6):778-784

PMID: 34779752


Working relationships between veterinary medical teaching hospitals, animal shelters, and rescue groups are one way to increase veterinary students' and residents' hands-on training. The goal of this study is to describe the use of a shelter fracture program to improve the surgical skills of surgical residents. In this program, the participating shelter and rescue organizations electronically submit cases. Following evaluation of radiographs and case approval by the orthopedic faculty, the case is scheduled for a physical evaluation. A resident takes primary surgical care together with a fourth-year student rotating through the orthopedic surgery service to ensure the proper pre-, peri-, and post-operative standard of care. All care is overseen by the orthopedic faculty. A veterinary student-run fracture foster program allows students to gain additional experience in the pre-, peri-, and post-operative care of shelter animals. The total number of shelter animals treated during a 9-year period was 373, with a mean annual case load of 41.1 cases (± 10.3). During the same time period, a total of 435 client-owned cases underwent surgical fracture treatment, with a mean annual case load of 48 cases (± 11.7). Surgical resident and student surveys show that this program contributes to their knowledge, skills, and confidence in treating fracture patients. A successful cooperative program provides advanced surgical fracture treatment of shelter animals, improving animals' quality of life as well as surgical residents' and veterinary students' skills training.