March 15, 2019
Many people consider their pets to be part of the family and will do whatever it takes to make sure they are well. That sentiment is helping to fuel the growing field of veterinary pharmacy.
“Not a lot of people have insurance for animal medications, so they're spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for those medications,” explained Emily Poirier (Pharmacy, ’22).
Poirier and several other students from UNE’s College of Pharmacy are learning about veterinary pharmacy firsthand by volunteering to medicate cats at the HART Animal Shelter in Cumberland, an all-volunteer operation that houses up to 100 cats at a time.
The student volunteers were recently featured in a news segment on WCSH.
“A lot of people don’t think about veterinary pharmacy when they think of a pharmacist,” said Evan Carrell (Pharmacy, ’22). “They usually think of somebody behind a counter at Rite Aid.”
The students typically spend a few hours, once a week, making their rounds at the shelter. They take what they learn in the classroom and apply it at HART.
“The underlying illnesses in the cats are usually pretty consistent with human diseases and disorders, so that carries over,” said Marlee Smith (Pharmacy, ’22), student coordinator for the volunteers.
The students are learning about the different kinds of medications that animals receive and the reaction cats have to them.
“Starting out in pharmacy school, you're getting possibly four years of exposure to veterinary medicine,” stated Poirier. “It’s something i’m definitely interested in. I think this is a great first step for going into that field.”
Maine is becoming a hub for the animal health industry, opening the door to many career opportunities for these students.
“Having this exposure to veterinary forms of medication already is a great thing to put on your resume,” Smith said.
Carrell added, “This is broadening our minds as far as what paths can we go down in the future.”
While the students are getting great hands on experience, they’re also giving back to their community. Their efforts are greatly appreciated by HART’s Executive Director Lisa Smith.
“The hands-on medical care includes fluid administration, oral medication, and injections,” Smith explained. “These are all things the students are familiar with because they've got excellent backgrounds. That really lends itself well for them to jump right in and immediately be of service to our organization.”