One of the rotations I just completed was small animal orthopedic surgery, which is one of the more challenging rotations in our fourth year. This rotation centers around small animal surgery that involves bones, which is extremely valuable for people going into small or mixed animal medicine. If you were a student focused soley on cattle or equine medicine, it would be easy to say that this particular rotation wasn’t very important since it is focused so much on small animals. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As our professor emphasized every time we entered the surgery suite, the principles, whether the animal is a cow or a dog, are the same, and that’s the truth. The sterile preparation, principles of fixation, approaches to many joints, and so much more were the same or very similar regardless of the species. We saw this twice during our rotation. The first time was when a calf came in with a broken leg. It just so happened that the surgeon who usually does surgery on cattle was gone that day and only the interns were in, so our attending helped place an external fixator on the calf’s leg to repair the broken bone. Different species, but same principle as seen in a dog. The second opportunity we had was to splint and bandage the broken leg of a lamb that belonged to a small animal technician. Again, different species than a dog or cat, but same principles.
This rotation was a very challenging one, but I can honestly say it was one of my favorites and one of the most rewarding. I encourage any student getting ready to enter clinics to be open to all the various rotations regardless of what you think you want to do with your career.