I recently had a rotation with the orthopedic surgery service here at Cornell. Orthopedic surgery is something I have always been interested in due to having a major orthopedic surgery for a femur injury in high school. I also have a close family friend that is a human orthopedic surgeon, and he has taught me a lot. He also helped me through a time when I had a soft tissue injury to a couple of the tendons in my legs. Ever since then, I have been enthusiastic about learning methods for long-term management of musculoskeletal disease, as well as learning when surgical intervention is the best option.
I will admit that I was not a huge fan of this rotation during the first few days. Some of the surgeries are long, and I mean long with a capital “L.” We had one dog in which we needed to correct a tibial tuberosity advancement surgery by doing a tibial tuberosity transposition. The surgery took more than 6 hours, and the dog was under anesthesia for more than 7 hours. We are also undergoing a research study here at school on the effect of increased surgical suite temperature on patient recovery, so the suites are hot as heck. This resulted in a day of sore knees and me attempting to stay awake as the heat tried to lull me to sleep. I was meant for the snow; I just can’t do the heat!
We had a very charismatic service chief during the second week of the rotation. This really changed my experience and increased my excitement concerning orthopedics. He was a classic surgeon in the sense of his focus and passion, but he did it without arrogance. He showed us how to talk to clients about complicated procedures while still being relatable. He communicated the material to us in a very understandable way, which was relieving since a lot of this material is quite a bit above the surgical skills that we have as 4th-year vet students. He also stressed to us the importance of attending continuing education events that will teach us how to, someday, do orthopedic surgeries. It just goes to show that this profession is truly one of lifelong learning, not one where your learning ends once school is done.