Campus Alamance: Jessica Adner ’24 gets lesson in empathy, compassion during summer internship

Adner, a biochemistry major, spent the eight-week program interning with Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital.

The Campus Alamance initiative provides students the opportunity to take the skills they’ve acquired at Elon to go out into the community and apply those skills working with some of the university’s most important community partners. 

Several of the 41 interns who participated this summer shared their experiences in the program and the lessons they’ve learned working in the community for eight weeks in this series of articles for Today at Elon. 

Jessica Adner ’24, carries Milo, a puppy, into Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital for a wellness check, July 19, 2023, at Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital, where Adner is working as an intern. Milo’s owner Terri Stacker is at right.

The concept of a fear-free clinic has gained traction among veterinarian professionals for some time. Fear-free practices aim to recognize fear, anxiety and stress in the medical treatment of pets, and to reduce those elements on every subsequent visit. Comfort, good communication and patience are all elements that factor into fear-free treatment.

They are also practices that Jessica Adner ’24 has exhibited daily at Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital during her eight-week-long internship under the Campus Alamance program. A career in medicine has always been a goal for Adner, but she’s still working to determine exactly what kind of medicine — pharmacology, human health or animal health.

“I’ve already explored pharmacy work as a technician for a while. I’ve shadowed doctors. But veterinary medicine is the only thing I never really got the chance to explore,” Adner said. Campus Alamance provided her with that opportunity. And she has relished each lesson learned from this opportunity, whether gained from interactions at the front desk or assisting in the operating room.

As important as it is to learn how to read an animal’s medical chart or dress a wound, the most significant lesson she gained at Elon Oaks was to always carry empathy and compassion with her. Adner has always cared for animals, but this experience has deepened her appreciation for the importance of animal health and approaching their medical care as you would that of a human.

“Their anatomy is so complex and different, and they can still experience mental struggles,” Adner said. “It’s really important to have empathy and be compassionate towards them when they’re in that state just like you would to anybody else.”

Jessica Adner ’24, gets a kiss from Milo, a puppy that was at the Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital for a wellness check on July 19 at Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital, where Adner is working as an intern.

“I’m grateful that Elon Oaks is a fear-free facility. It’s really hard to find doctors and staff that treat animals with such compassion,” Adner said.

The biochemistry major heard about Campus Alamance through outreach to Elon students interested in health professions. Campus Alamance offers an opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on experience with community partners in a range of industries while developing a deeper understand and connection to the greater Elon community.

This summer marks Campus Alamance’s third year and it has seen growth in each iteration. Jointly headed by the Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) and the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, Campus Alamance provides the 41 students who participated a $2,500 stipend to work 30 hours per week throughout the eight-week program.

The students attended weekly professional development sessions at various locations with panel discussions from local leaders that focus on a range of skills that they can tap into as they head into their careers. This kind of work reflects goals within the university’s Boldly Elon strategic plan to have students strengthen their roots in the local community. The experiences she has had, the ability to develop new skills and the stronger bonds she now has to the community have made Adner’s internship so special.

Jessica Adner ’24, left, returns Milo, a puppy, to his owner Terri Stacker, at Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital, July 19, 2023. Adner is working as an intern at the hospital.

“It’s hard to find internships, so I appreciate that Elon is giving us the opportunity to do something locally. Beyond the work, connecting with the community has been great,” she said.

Through the connections made in the community and experience gained at Elon Oaks, Adner has begun to get a clearer picture of what her future holds thanks to her work during the last eight weeks.

“It starts with something small like this and then builds up to an actual career,” Adner said.