Ruffus is a world first.Earlier this year he travelled from his home in Perth to Hamilton, New Zealand for life changing surgery. But Ruffus’ claim to fame isn’t his frequent flyer miles, and the life being changed isn’t his own but those of Murdoch University vet students. He’s a training mannequin used to develop the skills of wave after wave of budding veterinarians.
Ruffus is a much loved and frequently used part of Murdoch University’s Clinical Skills Centre. A unique facility that allows students to develop the hands-on skills they will need for their future careers without handling a live animal. Following years of trusty service, Ruffus needed to be retrofitted so that he could help students develop their diagnostic and handling skills.
Considerably more expensive than any domestic breed, it was only through the generosity of donors that Murdoch was able to both acquire Ruffus and send him overseas for the desired enhancements. When he first arrived at the Centre his primary role was as a mannequin to practice advanced limb bandaging techniques. Now, he’s been fitted with a brand new heart and lungs, complete with sound effects by a New Zealand company called MW Design LTD.
Safely back in the Centre, he is the perfect subject to train students to locate different anatomical locations, listen for specific heart and lung sounds, identify heart murmurs and recognize lung abnormalities. Students are able to access the Centre and Ruffus outside of classes together with their class mates, something Martina Mosing, Senior Lecturer Veterinary Anesthesia, says is key to self-directed learning.
“Students are encouraged to come into the Centre and practice their skills by themselves and in a pair,” she said.
“We find that it really enhances the student’s learning experience, especially having that peer review element so students can bounce ideas around. The student uptake has been incredible and Ruffus is an extremely beneficial tool for their learning.”The Clinical Skills Centre allows students to practice skills vital to their future careers in a low pressure “relaxed” environment. Students are able to experience the diagnostic process, listen for heart and lung problems in Ruffus, and prepare themselves for a surgical situation without the added pressure of worrying about distressed animals and owners.
Adelyn Putrivana, a fourth year Veterinary student, said the Centre has been exceptionally useful to her overall learning.
“We didn’t have the Centre last year when we had our assessments and so I had to practice at home and pretend that everything was there,” she said.
“It’s such a great opportunity to be able to access this place and have the facilities available to us before we go into our assessments.”
(Feature pic: Vet students Adelyn Putrivana and Cheryl Gui Li Tan examine Ruffus with the help of Murdoch Senior Lecturer Martina Mosing.)