Here is a summary of a couple of the changes I have noticed within myself over the summer. My summer consisted of living in Ithaca, working at the Cornell Equine and Farm Animal Hospital, visiting my home in Maine, visiting friends in the Midwest, and racking up more outdoor hours and good books than I can keep track of!
- The clinical skills are sticking. Any veterinary student will understand this. We are presented with so many facts and skills in class that we are expected to learn throughout our 4 years in veterinary school. Sometimes, this can all seem overwhelming. Personally, I am a “hands-on, old school” learner. Some things will never be concrete in my mind until I do them over and over again in a variety of circumstances. The best things about spending a lot of time in the Cornell Equine and Farm Animal Hospital this summer is that I got to really solidify a lot of important clinical skills that will be essential to successful practice as a large animal veterinarian. I am talking about things like blood draws, running blood work, heart murmur detection, lameness detection, physical exams of cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, llamas, alpacas, and even camels. So many skills that were once merely facts presented to me on a PowerPoint have now been translated into real-world, vital skills as a part of a lifelong knowledge set.
- Finding a good, healthy, working groove. Yes, I mean that like “getting into the groove” of life. It can be really enjoyable to have an intense working clinical schedule and find a way to still live other parts of your life effectively. This summer, I put my work ethic and work-life balance into a completely new gear that allowed me to stay close with my family and friends, reconnect with old friends, be a good partner for my girlfriend, read books, and spend a ton of time running, hiking, and swimming. All the while, I was accumulating a large amount of hours at the large animal clinic. I think that the skills of self-care and self-awareness become completely essential when you get to the level of working an intense clinical schedule. We have to be able to be responsible for our patients and provide an excellent level of care at any hour of the day or night. An important part of that is making sure that we are healthy and mentally prepared to take on new responsibilities, be them in the clinic or in our own lives.
I just found an escaped chicken from our neighborhood chicken coop and proceeded to catch it and bring it back home. They are such funny little birds. Just like the chickens, I have a job to do – school. This summer was fantastic and provided me with more than enough momentum to take into year 2 of veterinary school here at Cornell. Now that class is about to start, I suppose it is time to clean up my desk and fire up the Rush music for a lot of studying!