My first week at the Milverton-Wellesley Veterinary Clinic was a busy, satisfying, exhausting week. They’ve welcomed both Amy, another 4th year student veterinarian, and I like family! Due to my interest in food animal medicine, I’ll be spending most of my time on the road with the farm animal service. I’d argue that there is nothing comparable to driving on open roads through the countryside on a sunny day, and this first week was full of sun! We start early most days, but not as early as the farmers we visit, who likely put in a few hours work before the vet comes for herd health checks. These herd visits are what are regularly scheduled, but you never know what will pop up during the day.
For example – the very first call of my externship was for a cow that was off-feed (not eating) which turned out to be a displaced abomasum (or “twisted stomach”) that we fixed surgically. Then, on the same farm, we checked a down cow, performed a full physical, and were still kind of puzzled until we reached in to do a vaginal examination and discovered she was calving! We pulled out a live heifer calf and then treated the dam for milk fever (hypocalcemia) and ketosis.
So, what is it really like to jump from the comfort of classroom learning and hit the ground running? It’s thrilling and nerve-wracking and rewarding. I’m learning new skills and doing procedures for the first time pretty much every day, with the practice veterinarians by my side. But each time I draw blood or give an injection, it feels less scary and more routine. I ask a ton of questions and every night I get home and write down my cases from the day and any tips I’ve learned. Then I look up the details of the diseases and conditions, because I remember them better when I can associate it with a case I’ve seen!
In summary, the externship is just as awesome as I’ve been told to expect, and I can’t wait to learn more!