Senior gets hands-on experience in veterinary medicine through UT summer program


Lydia Battey, Entertainment Editor

Most students spend their summer relaxing, unwinding from school, and finding as many ways to have fun as possible. However, for Bearden senior Chris Lemons, he participated in a six-week program with the University of Tennessee Department of Veterinary Medicine. 

Lemons started the application process in the beginning of January and was accepted to the program in May. In order to apply, Lemons had to acquire three letters of recommendation, write an essay, and have some previous animal experience.

The program consists of 12 rising seniors and college freshmen from all over Tennessee. The participants are able to intern at vet clinics from their hometowns the first five weeks of the program. 

The program is directed by Dr. Mike Jones, a board certified specialist doctor and a professor at the vet college. The program also had camp counselors that are current third-year veterinary students. 

Lemons interned at Bluegrass Animal Hospital under Dr. Cristi Moser and Dr. Sandra Greiner, where he learned basic skills such as a general wellness exam and viewing interesting procedures with sick patients and surgeries. 

“I saw several spays and neuters, watched a couple of tumor removals, dentals, a femur surgery and a removal of a sock from a dog’s intestine,” Lemons said. 

For the sixth and final week of the program, the 12 participants came together and lived in UT’s dorms.

During the final week, the participants chose their rotations and were able to participate and view more specific procedure than they had seen in the previous five weeks. 

“I was able to see an MRI performed on a leopard, take vital signs on a sick baby donkey, patch up a cow with a damaged hoof, watch a C section on a monkey, and watch surgeries on several dogs, cats, and even a goat,” Lemons said. 

The program also took participants on field trips to visit veterinarians at the Tennessee Aquarium, Zoo Knoxville, and UT’s private Cherokee farm. 

Along with their rotations and field trips, Lemons participated in lectures that informed participants about the field, how to get into vet school, and the many career options that are available in veterinary medicine. 

The program only strengthened Lemons’s desire to become a veterinarian. 

“I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was around kindergarten, and I think this solidified my interest and helped me get a head start,” Lemons said. “My favorite thing I witnessed was the rotations within the college as it allowed me to talk with current students and get their perspective.”