The summer of 2020 is the last full summer break of my life. For most people my age, their last “summer break” was years ago. However, for those of us who choose to spend eight years going to college to become a veterinarian, we get our last summer break sometime in our mid-twenties if we followed the traditional path from high school to undergrad to veterinary school. Most people make big plans for the last summer they get before they have to go out into the “real world” for the career they’ve been training for. I had big plans too; I was going to travel, go to externships at fun and far away locations, and just generally have the best summer of my life. The pandemic put a hold on most of my plans, but I’ve found other ways to have a phenomenal last summer before moving on to the next stage in my life.
The first thing I did was get a job at a local vet clinic that I have not worked at before. I am super excited to see how other veterinary clinics operate. I love learning about the business aspect as well as the different ways to practice good medicine, so getting experience with as many clinics and veterinarians as possible is important to me. Only by identifying effective ways to practice in medicine can I find what works best for me. When I can find things that work well for different vets I file them away in my mind for future use. Is it more efficient to do surgeries for a couple of hours a day every day or devote one full day a week to surgeries? How many support staff to one veterinarian is adequate? How can I best utilize my support staff to make my practice run more smoothly? These are things I can only learn by observing the practices of multiple clinics and veterinarians.
The most rewarding part of my summer so far has been taking on a project. If you’ve read many of my previous posts, you know I am passionate about animal training. While my training focus in the past has primarily been with dogs, I have been riding horses since I was old enough to walk. I decided to take on a new challenge of training my own horse this summer, which is something I have never done. The horses of my past were all trained by professionals who then also taught me how to ride. I’ve combined my experience riding with my understanding of behavior and training to “break” my 6-year-old gelding, Rocky. I’ve had Rocky his entire life, but I hadn’t had the time to put in the work he needed. COVID-19 has given me the opportunity to work with him. Rocky is still pretty green, but we both learn something new every day, and I’m confident he is going to be an excellent riding horse and companion by the time I’m done teaching him.
I’ve also been spending more time with my family, who I dearly miss when I am away for school. It is nice to be back home and not so far away. I am really close with my family, so being away from them is one of the hardest parts of veterinary school for me. It’s been so nice to just spend time with them and get to be a part of my nieces’ and nephews’ childhoods again. This is one thing that I will miss once things are “back to normal”.
My last summer break is not at all what I expected it to be, but I am doing my best to make the best of it. Between starting a new job and spending time with my dogs, my horse, and my family, it is turning out to be a pretty good summer after all. I still have some small trips planned for the end of summer that I’m hoping will be able to happen, but I know that no matter what, this will be a summer (and year!) to remember.