Surgery. The class that drives thoughts of fear into every vet student who has ever come before. The class where for the first time, patient’s lives are put into your hands and YOU have to keep them alive. The class that is a first introduction into what clinics, and life after vet school, might look like. The most dreaded, and most anticipated course in all of veterinary school. At least for me…
Even since before I was accepted into vet school, the idea of surgery both terrified and excited me. While it’s certainly not the only skill required for a competent veterinarian to have, it does seem like an important one. I was always thrilled to get to observe any surgery during my time at work. From a routine spay to an emergency splenectomy, surgery fascinates me. This is a skill that I want to be good at, and I want to learn as much as I can from the very knowledgeable instructors that teach our course. This is how I’m preparing this summer to succeed in junior surgery this fall.
1. Practice! My school gives us the resources to start learning basic techniques before junior surgery ever starts. For the last year, I have had access to online suture training modules that teach different methods of suturing and knot tying. I also have a practice suture board that I can work on to improve my technique. While I can’t say that I practice every day, I do try to practice enough so that my hands will have developed some muscle memory when classes start. The only way to get really good at something is repetition, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
2. Observation. I’ve been lucky this summer in that I could work for a vet who was happy to let me come in and watch her surgical procedures. She’s shown me several different “real world” applications for the different methods of knot tying and suturing that I have been trying to practice. I’ve been able to watch how she reduces tissue trauma to the smallest amount possible and how she efficiently works to conserve time and materials. These are important qualities for any veterinarian.
3. More learning! In second year, we had an entire class that was devoted to anesthesia. We learned about different types of anesthetic machine setups, maintenance, patient monitoring, and pharmacology. All of this is highly important to surgery. While a lot of these concepts were a little abstract in a classroom format, being able to see them in action in a clinic has been very helpful. I’ve got to monitor patients under different types of anesthesia, and practice skills like intubation and catheter placement.
Surgery is the class I have most looked forward to since I wanted to become a vet. I am both very nervous and very excited to finally jump in this semester. I know I have a lot yet to learn, but I feel that I have a good foundation to build off of!