Wise words from the animal kingdom

Externship Project

Sadly, we are down to the very last blog of my externship and what an experience it was!!! I loved every single day at the Gray County Veterinary Clinic, I couldn’t have landed at a better clinic. Quite honestly, I ended up at this clinic on a whim – I knew I wanted to complete my externship outside of Ontario but other than that, I was relatively open to where I ended up.

I had talked to a few upper years as to how I should go about finding a clinic but other than that, I was completely unsure about what I was looking for or what to expect. I didn’t feel like I truly knew what I was walking into. Accordingly, I want to direct this last post towards future externship students – I’d like to provide any advice I can for making the most of your externship. If you have any specific questions outside of this post, please don’t hesitate to contact me at wiqbal@uoguelph.ca!

Fly like a raven because you’re just as intelligent: There’s no way you made it all the way to fourth year without working diligently to learn and remember the information taught to us in school. I found that OVC did an incredible job of teaching us, there were nearly no topics I saw in clinic that I hadn’t already learned about. You’ll be surprised at how much you remember and recognize; be confident in your knowledge and intelligence.

Photo of Werdah holding a cat.Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won’t kill you: This is YOUR clinical year, take advantage of your time in clinic – ask questions!! I didn’t spend too much time worrying about if I was being annoying or looked silly, if I had a question, I asked it. This is the time to learn and you’ll meet so many different doctors with different areas of expertise so take advantage of the learning opportunity. On another note, ask questions when choosing your clinic! Make sure it’s the kind of environment where you’re going to learn and be pushed. My mentor quizzed me every day and that is a learning style I enjoy and find challenging so find what works for you!

Channel your inner crocodile, be resilient: Crocodiles have thrived for thousands of years, you can thrive for eight weeks, no sweat. Not every day is going to be smooth, you’ll make mistakes. I most definitely made mistakes during my externship and my first few mistakes led me to be very hard on myself. I was upset with myself for not doing better but I quickly realized that as long as I was learning from my mistakes, it was okay. I had a supportive mentor and the entire team at my clinic encouraged me when I was down; use that to help you rise above. You’re learning and you’re not going to be perfect so don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself.

Photo of Werdah with a dog.Dogs adapt every day, you can too: No matter how great of a clinic you go to, it will be something new, which means new people, new environment and new protocols – you will need to adapt. Although the fundamentals will be the same, you’ll find many veterinarians have their own techniques and tricks. Drug choice and anesthetic protocol will also vary from clinic to clinic. You’ll quickly realize there is more than one way to accomplish a goal when it comes to treating a patient; don’t shy away from the wisdom of doing things slightly differently.

Photo of an elephantYou’re not an elephant, you will forget: I sometimes imagine a library housed inside my brain and when I get asked a question or need to decipher a complicated case, I attempt to find the right aisle (class) and then the right shelf (topic) to ultimately find the right book (disease/condition). Although I assure you the information you learned in vet school is somewhere in your brain, you will get lost in that library or go down the wrong aisle. You’re not always going to know the answers to questions or make the correct diagnosis. By the time you make it to fourth year, your brain will be just about exploding with information so be kind to yourself. Give yourself more credit. You’re still a student, the point of your externship is to learn, you’re most definitely not expected to have all the answers.