Wow, it’s been a busy few months. In February I finally started the infamous ‘Rotations’ section of the BVet Med course.
Rotations are the final part of the course, the home-straight if you like. We basically ‘rotate’ around all the different departments of the Queen Mother Hospital for Small Animals (QMHA) and the Equine and Farm departments for a whole 12months. We also get to do a lot more ‘seeing practice’ at any vet practices we choose (or at least any that will have us!). The entire year group gets broken down into smaller sub groups of 4 or 5 people and those people spend the whole next year working together in each department.
We get to choose some areas that we are interested in to ‘track’. I have chosen cardiology, critical care, neurology and ophthalmology. My reasoning behind these choices are simple – I chose areas that I enjoy, feel I’d like to understand in a little more detail and as I know that I want to be a first opinion small animal vet I wanted to spend some extra time in areas that I know will be common subjects that I will see every working day. I also spent 1 week in the oncology department last year and learnt about some of the more common cancers seen in small animals and their treatments.
I have to say that I have been looking forward to this part of the course from day 1 of first year and it has not disappointed. I am loving every sweat-dripping, poo-picking, puppy-cuddling moment of it! There are both highs and lows to being on the coal face as it were. We are no longer being taught the ‘theory’ in a classroom but are confronted with the sometimes harsh realities of the big bad World. Not all owners can afford the gold standard treatment that is available for pets today especially if they do not have their pet insured. This can be a very difficult situation to be faced with – your pet’s illness is treatable but it is out of your financial reach – very distressing indeed for everyone concerned.
But on the upside I have seen many, many animals successfully treated and reunited with their relieved owners. My favourite rotations so far have been the Emergency Room and a stint at the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in Camden, London which is a first opinion vet practice. I was dreading the Emergency Room rotation as I thought it would be hysterically busy and I would not have all the necessary knowledge at the tip of my tongue but I am very happy to report that it is the most well organised and structured department I have worked in so far. Everybody has a set job and knows exactly what to do and when – which I guess is the only way an Emergency Room can work!
I have also done the Population Medicine and Veterinary Public Health rotation which is based in Wales. This sounds incredibly dry but is actually a vital part of veterinary work especially for farm vets involved in the production of our food. This rotation included a visit to a slaughterhouse and I don’t mind saying that I was dreading it! I have never been to a slaughterhouse but have always been a meat eater – I don’t feel there is anything wrong with rearing animals for food but I do feel very strongly about their welfare and this includes their welfare at the time of slaughter. My heart was pounding as we approached the slaughter room door, I knew we were going to see animals being stunned and slaughtered but was incredibly anxious as I didn’t know how I was going to react or feel about seeing this first hand – though I was determined that I would watch this vital aspect of the food chain. Thankfully I needn’t have been so concerned. The staff at the slaughterhouse were all very experienced and professional and I was confident none of the animals I saw stunned and slaughtered had any negative experiences throughout the process. The design of the slaughterhouse was very good from an animal welfare standpoint.
At the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital I got to do some small animal surgery and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the bitch spay and cat and dog castrates that I did. I also loved the interaction with the pets’ owners as I love helping them to understand how they can better their pets’ lives and to understand any illness their pets may have.
I have to say though that at this point I have not done any equine rotations and I do not really get on with horses – someone once said that horses are dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle and I 100% agree with this sentiment. But you have to take the rough with the smooth so fingers crossed!
The 5th years have just finished their finals so does that mean I can call myself a final year vet student now – that’s very frightening!