During your veterinary education, you eventually get to a point where the sense of responsibility that you possess becomes tangible. This occurred for me when I began my clinical rotations, and it became especially true when I completed a few externships that put almost all the clinical responsibility on me, along with oversight from a veterinarian to make sure I was making the correct and safe decisions for each patient. I was happy to accept this level of responsibility, as I feel that it is what truly makes us develop more and more every day to become a better doctor. The sense of all of the decisions being on me and not someone else as a safeguard to me forced me to make judgments, use my clinical reasoning skills, check my resources if need be, and make a decision for a patient.
For some people, the idea of taking on the role of the doctor during our fourth year is terrifying. When I tell some of my classmates the responsibility that was put on me during a few of my externships, their jaws drop. Many feel as though they need way more instruction and guidance before they take on the role of the veterinarian, and that is fine. However, our clinical year goes by fast. I have reached the end of it, and many people still feel like they are not ready.
Part of being a veterinarian, or any doctor for that matter, is knowing what knowledge you lack and seeking it out. This includes knowledge of drugs, surgeries, or anything that walks through your clinic door. There is so much medical knowledge out there that it is challenging to know it all. The reality is that we will never know it all. But, knowing what you do not know is extremely important to keep in mind as you progress through your life as a veterinary student and veterinarian. Where has the sense of responsibility toward our patients gone? It seems that the predominant idea that currently runs the final year veterinary students is that knowledge is something that is gained passively, over time, by other people giving it to us and providing us the experiences to learn. What happened to the idea of being active learners that address their deficiencies head-on and with self-motivated action steps?