After completing my first rotation in the large animal hospital, I wanted to share some tips and things I learned that may make someone else’s life a little easier. I figured this may be helpful for those of you who don’t have much experience with large animals (like me)!
- Safety First—This was the biggest concern for me since I had not had much large animal experience prior to this block. It’s extremely important to let those around you know if you do not feel comfortable handling an animal or need assistance. I tried to utilize every equine safety tip I learned throughout my didactic years and apply them to this block. For example, when doing a physical exam on a horse always make sure to have a hand on the horse so they know where you are. When I’d do my physical exams, I’d always make sure to slide my hand to the next area I was going so there weren’t any surprises to the animal. I also remembered a lot of tips one of the veterinary nurses told us last year that can lessen our chances of getting hurt. For example, where to stand/how close to stand to horses when doing certain procedures. These things can seem so trivial when you are learning them in the classroom, but they are vital when putting it all into practice (especially if you don’t want to get hurt).
- Attitude—I really wanted to put this one first but safety felt a little more important. I was told by many people that survived 4th year that having a good attitude is everything. As corny as it sounds before I walked into the hospital each morning, I would tell myself, “Today is going to be a great day!” I did this to help let go of my negativity so it wouldn’t impact my learning or performance in clinics. Some days were extremely exhausting and some even frustrating, but those were the days when I made sure to remind myself constantly that what I’m doing is worth it and will positively impact my future as a veterinarian.
- Review—There was so much I had forgotten (especially anatomy) from my first 3 years of vet school that I really wish I had brushed up on before this block. The biggest thing for me was large animal anatomy. I struggled with equine anatomy then and that was one of the most difficult parts about this block. I tried my best to study more and refresh my memory on anatomy, especially before surgeries or procedures. I also made sure to review and research information on cases I knew I’d have the next day. It’s never fun being on a case and having no idea what’s going on (even though sometimes that happens regardless of how much you study).
- Be a Team Player—In my opinion, you will not get very far in clinics without being a team player. This profession is not one that operates without utilizing the people around you to work together. This REALLY holds true for clinical year. I remember there were times on this block where I had multiple patients in the hospital that needed time-consuming treatments and my other block mates that didn’t have any patients helped out with my treatments so I wasn’t overwhelmed or stuck at the hospital even longer.
I am a firm believer in work-life balance and capitalizing on the times when you aren’t busy to do things for yourself, but I also think it’s very important on clinics to make sure your block mates don’t need any help before you flee the hospital. Everyone is tired, exhausted, hungry, and ready to leave once their day is over but that’s not always the case for those around you. We can’t always predict the complexity of cases we take in or how our patients will end up doing, so having the help from others can make a huge difference.
- Don’t Fake it Until You Make it (with knowledge)—Please do not hesitate to ask questions or for clarification when you don’t understand things. This is the year where we have the privilege to work with client-owned animals and it’s crucial to make sure you’re always aware of what’s going on with your patient. Even the smallest mistake in our minds could have a lasting impact on the animal’s life. No one expects you to know everything so when in doubt, ASK.