While driving to a farm call with my externship mentor, I was getting drilled with questions about the various causes of lameness in a horse, reasons for bloat in a cow, and the numerous toxic plants affecting livestock. Aside from me hating being put on the spot, I realized that I did not know quite know as much about large animals as I thought I had.
You see, all of my experience is in small animal medicine. I worked in a practice for four years and for the most part, rarely put my hands on a large animal. I told myself that I would end up in small animal medicine so I compartmentalized and stored all the other information about every other species. Well, you know what they say? If you don’t use it, you lose it, and I’m figuring that out the hard way with this externship.
Much of my time in the farm truck is spent with a textbook in my lap or looking up treatments for the various diseases I encounter on a daily basis. The learning curve has been quite steep but I am doing the best I can to keep up. I hate feeling incompetent, especially when I have learned this information over the past three years. I made the mistake of telling myself I would never work with these species, and now it is coming back to bite me.
I have now devoted myself to staying on top of the information and reviewing my notes regularly. As I begin to see different diseases more frequently, I have become much more comfortable in a field that I thought I would never work in. And though I may not end up as a large animal vet, everything I’m learning now is crucial to me passing my boards. I certainly feel as though it is time well spent and a life experience that will help me grow as a vet.