Archived News

Multitude of Clinical Rotations Enhance Student Learning

October 23, 2015

Angel Faith Hope was brought to UC Davis following the Valley Fire.

Angel Faith Hope was brought to UC Davis following the Valley Fire.

At the heart of the UC Davis veterinary hospital are its students. While the hospital serves the people of California and beyond as a world-renowned veterinary resource, its main mission is to provide a teaching environment for fourth year students of the top ranked veterinary school in the world. Built in 1970 to see 4,000 patients a year, the hospital now sees 51,000 patients a year, more than any other teaching hospital. Every one of those 51,000 visits involves a teaching opportunity for the students. From large animals to small, from common cats and dogs to unique exotic pets, the animals seen at UC Davis serve as the patient base for a 59-week clinical rotation every final year student has to fulfill in order to earn a DVM degree.

During those 59 weeks, the students are required to complete core rotations throughout the dozens of different specialty services at the hospital. They also get to choose elective rotations that may better suit their interests or future career paths. For Sam Varon, a student from Los Angeles who plans to pursue a career in small animal general practice, Community Surgery was his favorite service rotation. He also looks forward to an upcoming rotation in Community Practice, as these two rotations are most closely aligned with his career choice.

Another student currently completing her final year of studies is Jenelle Soppet from Pleasanton, California. After a high school teacher instilled a love of science in her, she knew she wanted to pursue a career that involved both animals and science, ultimately landing her in vet school at UC Davis. While completing her final year, Soppet has particularly enjoyed her rotation in Diagnostic Imaging.

“I find diagnostic imaging fascinating, and plan to pursue a radiology residency in the future,” said Soppet. “I’ve enjoyed each rotation, as all of them have something unique to offer. The amazing faculty and staff at the hospital really enhanced my experience. I thoroughly enjoy waking up each morning, knowing that I get to work at a place with such dedicated and passionate individuals.”

For Emma Houck, a student from Torrance, California who plans to be a zoo veterinarian, the fast pace of the Emergency and Critical Care Service was her favorite aspect of the rotations. However, with aspirations of working at a zoo, perhaps the most valuable rotations for her future career were at the Sacramento and Micke Grove Zoos, two local facilities for which UC Davis provides care. While at the zoos, she worked with tortoises, primates, birds and a pudu, the smallest deer species in the world.

All three of these students were recently part of a case seen by Drs. Michelle Hawkins, Sara Gardhouse and Noemie Summa of the Companion Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery Service. Following the devastating Valley Fire, a baby rabbit named Angel Faith Hope was brought to the hospital by Ms. Stami Marr, a friend of the family who owned Angel. The family lost everything in the fire, but Marr stepped in to help by taking the family of six into her home and by taking the lead on Angel’s care. While not burned in the fire, Angel endured traumatic events that damaged both her eyes.

“I took Angel on as my inpatient,” said Varon. “We immediately began treating her for a severe eye infection.”

On physical examination, Angel was slightly dehydrated and underweight. A consult with the Ophthalmology Service helped determine that her right eye was infected and had marked inflammation, as well as a full thickness puncture through the cornea. Her left eye had a small superficial corneal ulcer and corneal scarring. The eyelid was also involuntarily closed tightly. Both eye injuries were most likely the result of an unknown trauma that occurred during the fire.

Varon continued to serve as the student on the case throughout Angel’s three-day hospitalization, administering medications that helped the left eye open and the ulcer heal. While the puncture wound in the right eye was too pronounced to ever regain vision in that eye, the area was healing enough for Angel to not have to lose the eye.

When Marr brought Angel back for her first recheck examination, she met with Soppet.

“I was touched by Ms. Marr’s efforts to assist victims of the fire and her dedication to Angel Faith Hope’s health,” said Soppet. “She is such a selfless woman. Working with her to help Angel was truly one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Not only was it an opportunity to meet an amazing individual, but also a chance to help a family who lost so much.”

Marr also seemed to leave a lasting impression on Houck, who met with her at Angel’s second recheck appointment.

“It was great to see her genuine concern and compassion for Angel Faith Hope and the family she took in,” said Houck. “She could talk for days about how much she cared about them, and they weren’t even her family.” 

“I believe she received a miracle,” said Marr of Angel. “I don’t think she would have survived without the expert care she received at UC Davis.”

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To see more photos of Angel Faith Hope's case and the students who cared for her, please see:

About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the #1 world ranked School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 51,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Media Contact:
Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer