I’m just over halfway through a week of work experience at a local veterinary clinic. Because I have a lot of free time before my Farm Animal tutorials this semester, I thought it might be worth my while to squeeze in a week of EMS. My brain is very, very rusty, and just a few days of cats, dogs, rabbits, and horses has reminded me how much more revision I need to do. And I thought I was finished for awhile!
This particular placement is only for a week, which is not how I like to arrange my EMS. More time with a practice usually garners more confidence from the vets and techs, and thus more chances to try my hand at practical skills and cases. Plus, a lot of the cases seen during week 1 come in during week 2 for a check-up, which allows me to see how effective a treatment has been, or how well a wound is healing. Still, I’m glad for the chance to see some cases, and for the wake-up call.
In case anyone is interested in what a week of EMS is like for a veterinary student, I thought I might share what I’ve seen and done over this placement. This is a very dry list, but perhaps a student considering vet school in UK would be curious about these things:
Watched morning consults, which were mostly re-checks from last week, boosters injections, and general check-ups. The vet did all of the above, and I was a fly-on-the-wall for each consultation. In the later morning, I watched a cat castration. I gave two subcutaneous injections to a dog that needed fluid therapy for several bouts of vomiting. After lunch I watched another hour of consults (boosters, re-checks for treated wounds, a dog with a persistent cough) and in the late afternoon I observed a few small surgeries.
With only a small number of consults, I spent most of my morning watching a cystotomy on a dog with bladder stones, and then a laparoscopic liver biopsy. In the afternoon, a dog arrived with a fractured forelimb and shallow respiration; chest x-rays showed a pneumothorax, or air outside of the lungs but within the thoracic cavity, which the vet cleared with a needle and syringe. After stabilizing the breathing and administering pain relief, the vet bandaged the dog’s leg until surgery could be performed. Finally, I watched the vet open and flush out an abscess on the tailhead of a cat.
I saw a few brief consults: a booster injection, a check-up on a kitten before surgery to castrate him, and a cyst on the back of a dog’s neck. Afterward, I watched a vet perform a keyhole bitch spay on a television monitor (very cool). After lunch, I restrained a dog while the vet scanned her abdomen for liver disease, then watched the practice owner clear out an impacted crop in a pet hen. There were two lame horses at a livery yard that I went to visit in the afternoon, and when I came back I watched the vet training one of the nurses on how to stitch up an abdominal incision.
Morning consults included a dachshund with vomiting and diarrhea (she was admitted for fluid therapy) and two rabbits, one of which ended up needing his teeth filed flat and his nasolacrimal duct flushed under general anesthetic. I didn’t get a chance to watch this, however, because I scrubbed in for an orthopedic surgery. I was only needed to hold the leg in certain positions, but because I was gloved, I was able to touch the tissues and get up close to the incision site. The vet gave a very nice tutorial on the operation he performed. I microchipped a cat (hopefully this one will stay in!) and gave a subcutaneous injection. After lunch, I watched a dog dental. The vet let me extract one of the teeth (we took out 5) and I polished the mouth at the end.
The morning consults were mostly booster injections. There was a dog that came in for castration who was pretty snappy, so it took awhile to get him calmed down and put in a kennel. I watched his castration, then helped position dogs for a few radiographs. In the afternoon, I saw the dog with pneumothorax from Tuesday have a plate put on her fractured limb, and then I watched the vet place pins in a fractured tibia (hindlimb) in a 6-month old puppy. I didn’t do much in manual skills, but I did monitor anesthesia quite a bit.
That was my week. It was less busy than some EMS of the past, but more busy than others. And now for the tons of studying I need to do….