After three years of classroom work, every veterinary student dreams of the day that they finally get to start clinics. It was very exciting at first but now it has started to get old too. Don’t get me wrong, clinics have been great overall. I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot of interesting cases, and have developed some good relationships with friends and clinicians.
However, there are a few gripes I have had with clinics. First, most blocks have plenty of students. This often means that there isn’t much to do and you may get to see something but only one student will get perform or assist with procedures. Second, when you are doing things, it’s usually paperwork that the residents, interns, and clinicians don’t really want to do. So for most of my small animal blocks at least, I’ve really only learned how to do paperwork. On small animal surgery, I didn’t place a single suture or actually perform any type of surgery so I really didn’t gain much from those three weeks.
As a food animal-oriented student, I’ve had more opportunities to work outside the clinic than others and I’m ready for that kind of life. The teaching hospital teaches you how to do things but in ways that are unrealistic in the real world. For example, TPLO surgeries don’t usually take five hours from induction until recovery and you don’t usually have eight people scrubbed in on them either. During my anesthesia block, we were constantly pressured to come up with the ideal combination of drugs for our patients when in reality a practice has a specific protocol using a handful of drugs that they use for everything.
The hours during in-house rotations can also be grueling. You have to check on patients at 7 am and 7 pm and do more paperwork. You have to round on your patients usually twice a day. You are in contact with owners multiple times a day. While it’s good practice, it’s not representative of how things work in real life. Emergency duties, especially for the small animal hospital, mean that if you get a patient you must care for it through the weekend and that you can expect to be in the hospital the entire time if you get one of those shifts.
I have gained a lot from my time during veterinary school clinics but I am ready to be a real doctor out in the real world. Graduation is only a couple months away at this point and my remaining schedule through clinics is composed of the topics that I am really interested in. I couldn’t be more excited at this point and for the start of my career.