I participated in a 2-week externship with VCA Animal Specialty Group (ASG). This is one of the best specialty veterinary hospitals in Southern California. They have over 10 board certified specialists and an Emergency department that is open 24 hrs. While there, I spent most of time in the Oncology service, but I also spent one day in Orthopedic Surgery and two days in Neurology.
I worked there under the supervision of two vet oncologists: Dr. Ayl and Dr. Ohashi. I got to perform cytology of tumor samples that were mast cell carcinomas. I also assisted in chemotherapy treatments and blood tests. I love learning more about the most common type of cancer in dog and cats, and becoming familiar with other treatments besides chemotherapy. Alternatives include angiogenesis drugs, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, and mass removal. It was very interesting to find out that the side effects of chemotherapy in pets are minimal. Like Dr. Ayl always said, “Only 20% had shown side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration and 80% have shown no side effects.”
One important lesson I learned from the Oncology service was to always promote a high-quality life when treating the animal, and being compassionate through the process. In just 7 days, I shadowed many cancer cases that mostly affected older pets and predisposed breeds. For example, large dog breeds are predisposed to osteosarcoma, and cats are predisposed to malignant mammary carcinoma.
In the Neurology department, I learned how to perform a neurological exam and assisted in a couple of neuro evaluations. I reviewed a lot from my neuroanatomy class like the cranial, brachial, and lumbosacral nerves. I also learned how to identify abnormal gait, loss of deep pain sensation, and which epilepsy drugs are used to treat seizures. Lastly, I spent one day in the busiest service of ASG…the Surgery department. There I shadowed Dr. Wendelburg during a total hip arthroplasty surgery and I watched how he removed the head of a damaged femur and replaced it with the Biomedtrix lateral bolt (implant) in a Golden Retriever! This device was developed by him in 2013.