Lincoln Memorial University

LMU Student a Finalist for the Veterinary Innovation Council Awards

Vote for Matthew Heydenburg here:


matthew HeydenburgMatthew Heydenburg of Grand Haven, Michigan, a rising third-year student at Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) is one of three students nationwide competing in the final round of the Veterinary Innovation Council Awards (VIC Awards). In this final round, nominees are tasked with crowdsourcing the most online votes at The voting period is open until 12pm ET on September 30, 2017.


Heydenburg, in conjunction with faculty members at LMU-CVM, created an innovative canine neuter model to help veterinary students learn to perform this common procedure. Using inexpensive materials, Heydenburg created a prototype consisting of a foam base with styrofoam testicles covered by a scrotum made of stockinette. IV tubing became testicular cords, and gauze simulated fascia. With faculty input, Matt’s prototype went through revisions and enhancements. The finished product was a model constructed mostly of poured silicone, which has the texture of real tissue.


“Our students began using the model that Matt created during their clinical skills training last year,” said Dr. Jason Johnson, LMU-CVM dean. “This canine neuter model is a truly innovative method of teaching because it allows students to practice and improve their surgical skills before ever cutting a live animal.”


Surgical skills have traditionally been taught to veterinary students using cadavers or non-survival surgeries. In addition to the significant ethical concerns that this raised, these methods did not allow students to perform more than one or two surgeries before working on someone’s pet. Gaining repetition performing a surgery such as a canine neuter allows a student to improve their motor skills and develop muscle memory. This results in improved skill which benefits the next patient. This canine neuter model developed by Heydenburg and LMU faculty allows students to bypass working on cadavers or doing non-survival surgeries. Students can repeatedly neuter the model while receiving helpful feedback from veterinarians. Once their skill level is deemed adequate on the model, they advance to neutering a live dog through LMU’s shelter outreach program.


The model is also being used to research the most efficient, effective way to teach veterinary surgical skills. Clarifying how to deliver skills training in a more cost- and time-efficient manner could improve the efficiency of delivering a veterinary education.


Help Matthew Heydenburg win the VIC Awards by voting for him in the student category at


The VIC Awards recognize people and organizations who have dedicated themselves to the betterment of the animal health industry through innovations that make a difference in the lives of animals everywhere. Winners will be announced during the 2018 Veterinary Meeting and Expo, the largest veterinary conference in the United States hosted by The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC). Winners will be asked to serve on a panel program moderated by the awards committee chair and VIC executive director.


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7150 or visit us online at


423.869.3611 | 800.325.0900
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752