Tonga trip on the cards

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

They are set to trade the pris­tine sur­rounds of a sim­u­la­tion vet clinic for the rough, ready and very real King­dom of Tonga.

A dozen Unitec vet­eri­nary nurs­ing stu­dents will also re­place the life­like dum­mies they prac­tice on with the real thing when they travel to the is­land na­tion next month as part of a con­tin­gent led by an­i­mal aid or­gan­i­sa­tion South Pa­cific An­i­mal Wel­fare.

The stu­dents will vac­ci­nate and de-sex as many dogs as pos­si­ble, and deal with any other ail­ment that presents it­self.

Tonga has no vet clinic and an almost un­con­trol­lable an­i­mal pop­u­la­tion.

Each year stu­dent vet nurses from Unitec make the trip to com­bine their learn­ing with the op­por­tu­nity to play a part in im­prov­ing the stan­dard of an­i­mal wel­fare on the is­land. Last year a crop of bud­ding nurses per­formed 117 surg­eries in a week, which lec­turer Laura Har­vey de­scribes as a ‘‘phe­nom­e­nal’’ re­sult.

‘‘They are deal­ing with what­ever comes in the door,’’ she says.

This even in­cluded a leg am­pu­ta­tion.

Har­vey says they will mostly treat dogs, which are owned but not in the way New Zealan­ders keep a pet.

‘‘They are free range, they’re not kept in the house and while they are fed it’s not dog food, just scraps.’’

In a week in Tonga the stu­dents will get through plenty of hands-on vet­eri­nary work.

‘‘They cer­tainly get the chance to put into prac­tice the skills they learn here, for ex­am­ple putting in in­tra­venous catheters. Here they do one a week, over there they do three to five a day.’’

Stu­dents Re­becca Kent, Anna Lam and Denise Lau­rie will be among the 12 to make the trip in De­cem­ber.

‘‘It’s a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity to use our skills and get back to ba­sics,’’ Lau­rie says.

‘‘We’ll strip away the tech­nol­ogy we are so lucky to have here and get down to the real pri­mary health­care they don’t have.’’

Op­er­a­tion Tonga: Diploma of vet­eri­nary nurs­ing stu­dents who will be head­ing to Tonga. From left, Anna Lam, Denise Lau­rie and Re­becca Kent in the Unitec Sim­u­la­tion Vet­eri­nary Clinic.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video from last year’s trip.

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