by SC Reporter Teresa Vazquez
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part three of a three-part series on the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife Student Programs.
Every year, two lucky individuals are chosen from a pool of applicants to complete CROW’s yearlong veterinary internship, which is widely known in the wildlife community said current intern Dr. Melanie Peel.
“CROW practices top tier medicine and is consulted for many cases and also has many students that come through the program, which go on to do great things in rehabilitation and wildlife medicine,” Peel said.
Peel attended veterinary school in Oregon State University and completed multiple “small rotating internships” before making her way down to CROW. Peel’s passion lies in wanting to make a difference, understanding “the intrinsic value of our ecosystems and ecosystem health.”
When searching for the next step in her journey, Peel said she cast a wide net, but multiple reasons drew her to CROW. Positive remarks from friends who attended CROW, personal alignment with the facility’s mission, and the level of medicine practiced to name a few.
“What ended up being a huge draw in how I ranked this facility was the interview with the two vets on staff, Dr. Barron and Dr. Bass,” Peel said. “Ease of communication and their level of knowledge when I asked them questions was a really big factor in why I ended up heavily pursuing this facility.”
Last July Peel came to CROW with the goal of improving her “whole gambit of wildlife medicine” which includes medical skills, technical skills, and surgical skills. So far CROW’s caseload has helped her do just that.
As a veterinary intern, with years of experience under her belt, Peel focuses on the medical side of the clinic running physical exams, making diagnoses, conducting ultrasounds, etc.
A wide range of patients has provided teachings on different treatments while also exposing her to different diseases like the West Nile and toxicosis with the Florida Red Tide. Their treatment varies, but CROW’s medical tools allow for the formation of a proper game plan.
“We have a lot of medical tools that other wildlife facilities don’t have,” Peel said. “So we have a lot of very useful instrumentation that allows us to practice best medicine.”
The technology available coupled with CROW’s hands-on learning approach, allows Peel to make her own decisions while still having the support of the veterinarian staff. Collaboration is considered a key factor in conservation at CROW, a trait Peel noted makes for better medicine.
“It’s a good team collective effort and so you get to put all these different brains together to make the best decisions possible,” Peel said.
The collaboration extends to all parts of the clinic, including volunteers, grant writers, rehab staff, and media who work together making CROW the place it is. And although everyday may bring its own trials, there is always a team to take it on.
Some days consists of ICU rechecks and patient intakes while others consist of getting a bobcat out of a birdhouse. Overall, CROW’s veterinary internship allows for unique medical experiences that overflow into other areas of conservation.
“This program helps facilitate the learning of not only wildlife and conservation medicine but also helps facilitate growth and emotional intelligence for how to deal with large variations and, you know, public and staff and allows for practice in the balance between good patient care and human relations,” Peel said.