While the mandatory externship serves as the first real clinical immersion for many fourth year veterinary students, it can be easy for both ourselves and the people we work with to forget that we are very much still learning. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that a good clinician knows that learning takes place every day until retirement. There is a lot of pressure felt by veterinary students, who are frequently ‘type A’, self-critical personalities. Thankfully, the doctors and staff at Mildmay Veterinary Clinic were patient, kind and non-judgmental. Fostering this type of environment makes a tremendous difference to us as students, helping to not only keep us grounded on the reality of our newness, but remind us that there is support surrounding us as we navigate this scary milestone of our education.
The value of good mentorship cannot be overstated. Every single vet at MVC went out of their way to include me in cases. It is important - particularly as a new grad entering practice, but also throughout any medical career – to be able to bounce ideas and questions off one’s colleagues. Each question I asked was met with a respectful and informative response. When I was unsure of something or sought guidance for a task, there was always someone around the corner willing to help.
I would like to make a special shout-out to Dr. Taylor Petersen, OVC Class of 2020. Despite her own fresh arrival to practice, Dr. Taylor demonstrated not only a high degree of clinical competence (you’d never guess she was fresh outta school!), but she often went to bat for me to ensure I was getting the variety and depth of experience I needed. Maybe it was her ability to relate to my position just a short year out from her own externship; maybe it was just a natural tendency for her to assume a mentor’s role. Either way, it meant a lot to me as a nervous student, and I fully intend to pass along those helpful vibes when I myself enter practice in a few short months.