Is your child fascinated by animals and nature? There’s an opportunity and place for them to explore the world of veterinary medicine with practicing veterinarians. The NYC Veterinary Specialist located on New York City’s West Side provide classes that teach children; how veterinarians think and work, the use of real tools, different topics ranging from bones to blood to surgery, and live animal contact.
The present educator is Dr. David Bessler, an emergency vet at NYC Veterinary Specialists. He spends his days (actually his nights) saving the lives of New York City’s pets. His philosophy is by helping people with their pets (nature’s messengers) and especially helping children discover nature, he can help them experience the same sense of wonder he feels every day.
Animal Fair Media asked Dr. Dave some big questions about Little Vets.
1. What and when were you inspired to create Little Vets?
I have always had a passion for teaching. I used to teach children at a nature center near Cornell where I went to college. I enjoyed teaching the soldiers under my command when I was in the army. I enjoy teaching our interns and residents in our teaching hospital. It didn’t occur to me, however, to teach veterinary medicine to little children until I had children of my own. My primary goal is to open kids’ eyes to the wonders of the natural world. Kids love animals and veterinary medicine, so I use that as a “gateway” subject to get them interested in learning about all of nature and science.
2. How do parents sign up a child for this course?
The parents download a registration form at www.littlevets.com. They fill it out and send it in. Classes fill up quickly.
3. What do children learn in your vet school program?
Kids learn miniature (but not simplified) versions of the same things vet students learn. The curriculum is modeled after the learning sequence in vet school. So, they start off learning how to do a physical exam. Then they learn about important veterinary tools like x-rays, microscopes, and centrifuges. Next they learn the special techniques all doctors use to solve medical problems. Once they have those tools, they begin learning about specific organ systems such as the digestive system, blood, and bones. They learn how they work, how they sometimes don’t work in disease states, and how to fix them. In our surgery class, the students learn how to use real surgical instruments and how to suture.
4. What will a child learn from this experience?
During the course, the children have live and hands-on experiences with real veterinary tools such as ultrasound, endoscopy, bandaging and casting materials, and surgical equipment. That’s what they experience. The most important thing they learn is that the magic of science and nature is there before them to learn about and to understand. All they have to do is look, touch, listen, and think.
5. What is the cost and does it include the entire actual school program?
The course is $700 for 10 classes. The class is for children grades 2 to 4, but we will likely be starting classes for 5th and 6th graders as well. Upon completion of the course, students are awarded the degree of LVMD (Little Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris), which may be combined with either a VMD or DVM degree from accredited veterinary schools to allow these students to practice veterinary medicine in the United States or abroad.
6. Have any of your students become vets?
I am confident that some will, once they are old enough. But I don’t want them just to become vets. My goal is to have them become scientists who poke and prod at the world to understand how it works. Many of our students have accomplished this goal.