21 June 2024

Vet nurse students are getting a leg-up with new hi-tech dog mannequins

| Jarryd Rowley
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Vet nursing students at TAFE NSW will be able to practise their skills on a state-of-the-art dog mannequin named Sheila

Vet nursing students at TAFE NSW will be able to practise their skills on a state-of-the-art dog mannequin named Sheila. Photo: Supplied.

Vet nursing students at TAFE have seen many advancements in classroom technologies in the past few years, all used to help prepare them for their future careers.

Practice radiography machines, state-of-the-art dental machines and advanced nursing equipment have all been utilised at Wagga’s TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre but none are as lifelike or as strange as a new dog mannequin.

The mannequin, named Sheila by students, has recently arrived at the Wagga-based campus from the United States and allows animal studies and vet nursing students to practise important clinical skills, such as intubating, CPR, bandaging, and even ear cleaning.

TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre animal studies teacher and local vet nurse Brooke Peters said the mannequin had become like a real pet for the class and was helping students hone their clinical skills without posing any risk to a live animal.

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“It really closely simulates how you would work on a live animal, so it enables students to improve their skills before working on real pets in a clinic,” Ms Peters said.

“It allows students to take their time and provides both animal welfare and clinical advantages.”

TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre student Bella Harrison said that having Sheila in the classroom allowed her to practise her skills realistically.

The new life-like mannequin allows for students to practise skills such as CPR and giving injections

The new life-like mannequin allows students to practise skills such as CPR and giving injections. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

“Sheila is very realistic but very creepy at the same time,” Bella said jokingly.

“It allows me to perform things like CPR or give injections which is really helpful as there is no super realistic way to replicate it otherwise.

“Having Sheila to practise my skills on has been amazing. It’s really helped build my skills and confidence and the CPR skills I learned with Sheila actually helped me bring back a pet in the clinic recently. It pretty much just prepares you for what you’re gonna see in a placement in the best way possible.”

The new technologies have arrived at a vital time for vet nursing students. According to Jobs and Skills Australia, the number of qualified nursing positions is expected to explode in the next two to three years with the predicted number of positions to grow from 10,700 jobs in 2024 to 17,800 by 2026.

One of the students who has secured a role as a vet nurse following the completion of her Cert IV in Vet Nursing is Samantha Lyons, who decided to change career paths in her mid-30s.

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“I had a 40-year-old family business here in Wagga and in 2020 my family and I decided to sell it,” Samantha explained.

“I was a mother of a one-year-old at the time, so I was looking to take a little bit of time off and spend some time with her. As she got older, I was sending my resume to get some casual work at some local clinics.

“Moorong Veterinary Clinic was the clinic that had contacted me and they have been my family clinic my entire life. I managed to get a start there as a receptionist and I knew from the moment that I started that I wanted to be a vet nurse.”

Samantha explained that from 2022 onwards she completed her Cert II in Animal Care, before moving on to a Cert IV in Vet Nursing.

“I’ve spent the last couple of years completing my course at TAFE NSW and working at Moorong Veterinary Clinic and it has been the best job of my life. I will continue being a vet nurse until the day I retire.”

To learn more about vet nursing and other courses offered by TAFE NSW, visit its website here.

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