There are times when I am on rotations that I feel completely useless due to my lack of knowledge with the subject matter, lack of comfort with the species, or worse: the dreaded combination of the two.
Recently, while on the Field Service rotation at New Bolton Center, I experienced the latter explanation of utter uselessness. When it comes to abdominal palpation per rectum of mares, I feel slightly more comfortable than I would guess the majority of my classmates feel. However, when it comes to abdominal palpation per rectum of cows, I know for a fact that I am pretty awful. I practiced on upward of thirty cows in the past week and was able to manually retract only one uterus. I was unable to diagnose a single pregnancy, and I could probably feel the entire reproductive tract of only two or three cows.
However, even though I knew my skill set in this area was pretty dismal, I never let my patient care falter. As a veterinarian, I am confident that I will never have to see a cow again, much less have to try and diagnose an early pregnancy. I will, however, be caring for patients. No matter the species, the principles of patient care will always be the same.
When I was younger and tired of changing water buckets for my horses because I could barely lift them let alone carry them to the nearest hose, my mom would always remind me that it was my responsibility to make sure the horses had access to water because they could not do it themselves. For some reason, that very simple lesson has stuck with me throughout my entire veterinary career, and I like to think has shown through in my patient care.
There is no substitute for good patient care.