“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Vet school is as much an exercise in memorization as it is one in routine. Striving for success, no matter how we define it, requires developing a system of doing something and then sticking to it. We have had many instructors walk us through performing a physical exam of an animal. While each person may have a slightly different way of doing it, it honestly does not matter in the slightest to us students. What is critical for us is to understand that each vet has their way and does not deviate from it. If a horse’s presenting complaint is leg lameness, any self-respecting vet would not only assess the leg, he or she would do a comprehensive analysis of the animal’s body, not forgetting to auscultate or check cranial nerve function, lest some abnormality go undetected. The ability to formulate our own method of performing an exam and not deviating from it is what is crucial.
A similar approach is taken in radiology. It may be natural for my eyes to immediately pick out a lesion on a radiograph that “jumps out at me.” More likely than not, though, I may spot a not-so-obvious one after painstakingly squinting over the screen. Voila! Once it is found, I might be inclined to stop looking at it. However, this practice is not a good one. “Satisfaction of search,” the gratification I feel from finding a problem area, should have no bearing on my decision to stop looking at the radiograph. In keeping with the method I have set for myself in assessing radiographs, the journey must continue…I think that Aristotle may have had a point!