Last month was the month of necropsies for me! At the beginning of the month, as a member of the Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Club, I was given the opportunity to observe and participate in the necropsy of a cow that had arrived at the animal health and food safety lab for postmortem examination. The pathologist in charge took her time explaining what she was doing at every step of the necropsy. She walked us through what standard procedure for a necropsy should entail, whether it is performed in a laboratory or in the field. I was so amazed that I was able to have this sort of hands-on experience so early in my vet school career! We were able to help her remove the eyeball for testing of nitrates, as well as collect various tissue samples for histologic examination. I learned so much about what was normal and abnormal by being able to see and touch the tissues being investigated. We discovered that the cow had severe pneumonia, and seeing this pathology firsthand helped to reinforce the information I’ve learned in lecture in a way that I never thought it could.
Shortly after witnessing this necropsy, Pathology Club provided me the opportunity to perform my own necropsy on a swine. With my professor circulating throughout the room to offer insight and advice, I was in the driver’s seat. I was even able to practice intubating my pig during the process! I was able to use some of what I learned from watching the cow necropsy to help me, but throughout the experience I discovered that being confident in my own abilities helped me the most. It is so easy to sell your own capabilities short. However, just like with most things, I was able to learn best when I allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and rely on my knowledge and skills, which made this such a memorable experience.