In junior surgery, we are divided up into groups of three students. Each week, we rotate between positions as surgeon, assistant, or anesthetist. We have six weeks of live animal labs, which means we rotate through and take turns doing each position twice.
Our first week in live animal labs, I had chosen to be the surgeon. We had a lovely black kitty from the local humane society who was in for a spay. I spent the evening before surgery reading about the procedure, watching videos, and practicing my suture techniques. I made sure I knew the procedure forward and backward! I knew I would be expected to know what I was doing and be fairly independent since we were in surgery class. I wouldn’t be able to use a fourth-year mentor as a crutch as I had on my one previous spay.
The morning of surgery, I arrived early because sitting at home itching to get to school was making me nervous. Turns out, the ten of us who would be surgeons this week all had the same idea and ended up sitting in a room together making each other more nervous while our patients were induced for anesthesia. My group mates brought our kitty in to the operating room where I was waiting all gloved and gowned, to unfortunately deliver some not great news. She had a small, what appeared to be a scar on her abdomen, meaning she had probably previously been spayed.
However, the shelter had sent her to us to be spayed, meaning they may have thought it necessary. For example, she may have been displaying signs of heat due to an ovarian remnant. We opened her up to confirm what we knew what might already have been the case. She had indeed been spayed. We thoroughly checked to make sure there was no stump pyometra or ovarian remnants.
Though I didn’t get to do the spay I was prepared for, I did get to practice many surgical techniques. I practiced aseptic gloving and gowning, draping a patient, and making an incision. And now I know how to do an abdominal exploratory for the future. I also practiced suturing, so even though it wasn’t the surgery I hoped for, I still learned a lot. Also, as an added bonus, on my evaluation I was told my suturing technique was more advanced than is expected at this stage!