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OUR NEIGHBORS | Vet med instructor fills niche need by building practice models

If — and this is a big if — you ever need to simulate the feel of a dog’s anal gland, use fake grapes.

But not just any grapes. Use the ones from Hobby Lobby, as those have a more accurate feel than the ones at the dollar store, said Susan Rose, an instructor in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who builds models for students to practice their future veterinary jobs.

As an education technician, Rose, 56, works with Dr. Ryane Englar to plan and teach the college’s Clinical Skills class for first- and second-year students. That class, which the college started in 2017, came after professors saw a need for new vet students to brush up on the basics in their first few years in school.

“We saw a huge need for models, as well as just clinical skills, because the students were going into their third years without some of the foundational skills needed for us to then build on in the advanced curriculum,” Rose said.

The class focuses on building fundamentals — such as clinical communication, safe practices, how to read animal behavior and handle them appropriately — but students can only learn so much from reading or from lectures.

“(Dr. Englar) can lecture about rectal palpations, and that’s interesting info, but how do students learn? By feeling it,” Rose said.

But when it came to practicing those skills, the college had historically been limited because of a lack of practice models on the market, and Rose said that the few models that did exist tended to be too expensive for the quality the school received in return.

So Rose started building them for the school. Relying on a background in art and a long career as a veterinary technician, researcher and instructor, Rose works with Englar to identify the skills they’ll need to teach in the course and how to build models that best reflect those skills.

Rose’s model designs stretch back to the early ‘90s, when she first joined the college as a junior surgery lab supervisor. She designed the first IV training for veterinary use, but she was not sure how to build it, and with the internet still in its early years, she couldn’t even research that.

For that reason, she reached out to a company that had built the only veterinary medicine product on the market, a CPR model for dogs, to build her design. She would provide them with several other ideas over the years, and Rose said she didn’t receive any money from those ideas, as she mostly just wanted the designs to be available.

In her new role alongside Englar, though, Rose now has a workshop and storage area, which she uses to build and refine her designs. The instructors use those to teach students skills like checking prostates, looking and feeling for masses, and diagnosing animals.

“We realized we can spend hundreds of dollars buying things that I designed, or I can now just build them myself,” Rose said. “Thanks to the internet, I was able to teach myself molding and casting.”

A self-described Army brat, Rose said she was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but “raised everywhere else.” Originally, she wanted to major in art, but her parents would only support two years of college, so she found settled on the veterinary technician program at Garrett Community College in Maryland. She came to the area when her husband was stationed at Fort Riley in 1987.

Since Rose isn’t a veterinarian, she said she relies on the expertise of her colleagues for designing models for procedures she hasn’t done to ensure the models are as close to real life as possible.

Rose said she uses a lot of silicone, in addition to plastics, metal and wood. She’s also used taxidermy forms to get the shapes right, although those forms are made of foam and aren’t as durable as she would like. She said she likes hunting for niche materials, such as Halloween skeletons on sale after the holiday, to use in her designs.

“It gives me a full structure to build on,” she said. “It’s not perfect anatomy, but close enough for our purposes.

“I try to figure out how to recreate nature not just in form but in feel,” Rose continued. “I’m always looking at things and feeling things, and I’m on the lookout for things in stores. My brain never shuts off.”

Englar said that Rose brings creativity, innovation and a student-centered approach to the job.

“She’s always tried to develop new techniques and models, and that interest naturally transitioned into our class,” Englar said. “She fills in the gaps when we need models. … She’s been an incredible asset, and we’re blessed to have her. We’ve really made it work, and it’s only going to get better as we refine the models.”

Dr. Peggy Schmidt, associate dean for academic programs and student affairs, said Rose has been a valuable asset for students.

“She brings that outside-of-the-box perspective,” Schmidt said. “There may be models out there for purchase, but they’re expensive. She says I can do this just as well and in a more affordable manner. When you look at the cost of higher education, anything we can do to keep the cost down for students is great.”

Outside of her work, Rose said she enjoys painting, with much of her work depicting life on her farm in Wabaunsee County. Her paintings are in every area galley, she said, and she hosts artists at her farm once a month to paint the Flint Hills.

She said she combines her artistic experience and veterinary background to make her medical models, but she treats the process as problem solving. And in working with another company to start marketing her designs, Rose will solve the problem of a need for more veterinary medicine models for students, and this time she’ll be paid, if only a small amount, she said.

“The main thing is, I know these are needed in education,” Rose said. “I’m not going to retire off of them, but to me, that’s not the point. Yes, in a perfect world, that would be cool, but that’s not why I’m doing this.”


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'Time to reflect': Estabrook serves 48 hours in jail

Manhattan city commissioner-elect Aaron Estabrook used his 48 hours in jail for reflection.

“I think just that it provided time to reflect on things and also gain a better understanding of kind of some of the ways that the correctional system works,” Estabrook said. “But also since then, I’ve also been more focused on serving the community of Manhattan and also working with the students and the people I meet every day.”

In November, Estabrook was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, 120 hours of house arrest, 20 hours of community service and six months of probation for an April DUI charge.

According to an RCPD report, Estabrook hit a parked vehicle in the parking lot of Starbucks on Bluemont Avenue in April. He later refused a sobriety test.

Estabrook said while in jail, he thought about a story someone had told him right after he was arrested. The story centered around a 1-ounce shot glass.

In that glass, a person can put family, a car or car keys, and potentially lose them all, Estabrook said.

“That was very real to me,” Estabrook said. “It’s not that little. It can take away everything.”

Estabrook received his sentencing one week after the municipal election. It came after two delays from his attorney.

He served his 48 hours in jail over the Nov. 29 weekend.

“I’m just glad to be done with this and moving on,” he said.

Estabrook said he was in a pod with about 13 other men. Food was delivered to the pod as well, he said.

“I never left that pod, so we each had individual areas within,” he said. “You’re just there.”

There wasn’t a whole lot to do other than read, sleep and think, he said.

“I didn’t interact a ton with everybody,” Estabrook said. “People seemed to be trying to get through each day, and there’s not a lot of activity you can do. It’s kind of sitting there, sleeping and thinking about stuff.”

Estabrook said he already has completed his house arrest time and will work on completing his community service hours after the first of the year.

Estabrook, along with incumbent Linda Morse and Mark Hatesohl, will be sworn in during the Jan. 7 meeting.

Estabrook is serving a two-year term as he finished in third place behind Morse and Hatesohl. Morse and Hatesohl earned four-year terms on the commission.

Once on the commission, Estabrook said he is looking forward to setting goals and getting his daughters involved in local government.

“So I’m really excited for my daughters to kind of be involved in that. … And see some of the ways government works,” he said.

Estabrook said he wants to make sure there are clean and defined goals with metrics in please to track the city commission’s progress.

“I think we’ll get that knocked out in January, and we’ll go from there,” he said.


Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley  

Alberto Di Fiore tries on a sweatshirt Tuesday at Threads, a pop-up thrift store inside of the K-State Student Union that aims to end slavery around the world. Meredith Wesley, president of Threads, gathered clothes from students by having them put clothes in drop boxes. Wesley hopes to continue to do the pop-up store on an annual basis. The event is held by the International Justice Mission.


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Hobson: Crews clean up Main Road at White Canyon

Riley County crews on Friday cleared Main Road at White Canyon, a subdivision near Randolph.

Crews removed debris and limbs from the road to make it passable for residents, said Leon Hobson, director of public works and county engineer.

“Should’ve made it very passable for them,” Hobson said.

Hobson reported this Monday to the Riley County Commission.

“Hopefully, the first people who got in were the propane companies,” said commission chair Ron Wells.

Crews also put more rock on the road, Hobson said.

“I haven’t been up there, but from the pictures, looks like they did a good job in getting it smoothed out,” Hobson said.

The total repair cost came in at $4,854, Hobson said. Officials used less materials and labor in cleaning up the road than they thought they would need. They previously estimated repair costs at around $8,000.

White Canyon residents have dealt with flooding over the past nine months.

With water off the road now, residents have struggled to get to their homes with debris covering the road.

Residents have been asking Riley County for help since September.

In an article that ran in Wednesday’s paper, Craig Cox, deputy counselor for Riley County, said the county wasn’t responsible for road maintenance in the subdivision.

However, commissioners told the public works department Thursday that they wanted the road cleaned.

Wells told The Mercury on Monday that cleanup would help as the county considers a more permanent solution.

He didn’t provide details on what that solution could be.

Roxanne Waggoner, a White Canyon resident, told The Mercury on Friday that she thinks the newspaper’s reporting prompted the response.

In other action Monday, commissioners:

  • Approved sending bids for review to the county engineer for the Riley County courthouse judge chambers and appraiser’s office remodeling projects. R.M. Baril General Contractors of Manhattan offered a bid of $108,223.20 for the whole project while Trinium, Inc. of Manhattan offered $125,000 in its bid. Cheney Construction, Inc. of Manhattan offered a bid of $86,425. The architect’s estimate for the project is $160,000. Officials expect the project to start in 2020.
  • Held an executive session to discuss an “initial offer or purchase” by the county. Commissioners did not take any binding action after the executive session.
  • Held another executive session on potential litigation for the purpose of consultation. The commission did not take any binding action after the executive session.