My philosphy

My philosphy

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Align my heart, my body, my soul.

Wow. This past week has been so different. First off, I started my final semester in the Veterinary Technology program, and therefore my externship. I decided to do my externship in a Laboratory Animal Research facility at our local medical university. I wanted to see something different from general practice, where I have worked for 8 years. After taking Laboratory Animal Medicine over the summer, I had a new found understanding for this field. I didn't know much about it, but was fascinated. Here is a quick overview of this past week.

Monday: I started my externship, I attended a staff meeting, met my new supervisors and did some important IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) training modules. I spent about 8 hours at my externship, talking, training, reading, and finding out that I could observe surgeries on Friday!

Tuesday: I worked the morning, and my first Probability and Statistics class was canceled.

Wednesday: My first Emergency & Critical Care Class. We had lecture about what makes an emergency, monitoring equipment, and other emergency equipment. That night Todd and I had a discussion about my future in school, as a vet, our current situation, money, etc. I had a difficult decision to make.

Thursday: I went up to work early to talk with the office manager, and I gave my letter of resignation, effective immediately. I found myself unable to give 110% at work, *AND* do my externship the way I wanted, *AND* keep my house clean, *AND* study for school, *AND* not lose my mind. I didn't want to compromise on this amazing opportunity I have to learn, and my end goal is not in general practice. I love what I do for a living, but am sick of seeing animals suffer and being euthanized from PREVENTABLE diseases that are truly not cost prohibited to prevent in the first place. I could tell that the path I was heading down would only lead to resentment. I didn't want to resent my job, my coworker, compromise my patients, and hate myself for sacrificing the chance I have with this externship. The decision to leave my job was difficult, and I was scared. Thankfully I have an amazing, loving fiance, an equally awesome best friend and parents, all who offered to help out however they can. As Todd told me "you are going to be a doctor damn it, you should be focusing on school". Now I can do just that.

Class was spent rotating through 3 lab groups, practicing simple laboratory tests such as PCV/TS, BG & Physical exams. PCV/TS are two easy to run and important screening tests in animals. Packed Cell Volume, or the percentage of red blood cells in a sample of blood. TS are the Total Solids, or amount of protein in the serum or plasma.These tell you if the animal is anemic, over or under hydrated and if they are losing protein. BG is the blood glucose. We also practiced reading blood smears and quantifying the different white blood cells (there are 5) and platelets (they play a role in clot formation). Afterwards, I had my first probability and statistics class, which wasn't too bad. According to my instructor, those that don't do well in algebra do well in prob & stats, and vice versa. Which means, I should *ROCK* this class! It helps that prob & stats is actually used in the real world, and is especially used in epidemiology. I may actually enjoy this class!

Friday: I spent all day at my externship watching amazing surgeries for a study not being done ANYWHERE else in the world!!! I cannot go into details, but let me state this....these animals in the study are given better pain management protocols than I have *EVER* seen in a clinic! Fentanyl patches, which are an opioid that is delivered over 72 hours are used, along with a pre-medication injection of an opioid that lasts 6-8 hours (Buprenorphine) and is repeated for several days post-op. I was amazed to see the anesthetic protocols, and how money is no concern, patient welfare is. The animals are treated with such respect, and the employees (vets, vet techs, MD's, etc) are all compassionate toward them. I have learned so much the first 8 hours of actually doing hands on work.

Monday: Back to my externship. It was more slow, but still interesting. I was able to place some IV catheters into rabbit ears, which was easy but frustrating to tape in. My hands are used to taping IV catheters into cats and dogs, not bunny ears! Thankfully my catheters stayed in and as it became easier I looked less foolish! My afternoon was spent reading SOP (standard operating procedures) and absorbing all the knowledge that the clinical veterinarian I am working under shared with me. I started to notice a bad headache by the end of the day, again.

Today, Tuesday: I was able to hang out with my Mom for a bit, then head to my prob & stats class. I noticed about half way through, I started with another headache. After discussing with family, I think I need to get my vision checked...I get headaches frequently, reading computer screens are an eye sore, I realized I was holding a magazine awfully close yesterday and when I pulled it further away, I could read the words but the surrounding page was blurred and I had to focus hard, driving at night gives me headaches and the lights are especially bright and bothersome....yeah, just what I need, to pay out of pocket for an eye exam. It's important, I understand that, but expensive!

So far this year has been full of change! Lets see, I am graduating and earning my first of many degrees this May. I am taking my exams to become an Licensed Vet Tech (LVT) this Summer. I am getting married this Halloween. I will still be in school full time. And now I get to have an eye exam to figure out if I need glasses, and if not, what is causing my headaches and eye strain! My my, that is a lot!


  1. Cool to hear about your lab animal externship! From my experiences in the field I definitely agree about the top quality care and pain management these animals get. You'll probably get a good taste of what the real job is like too, with a mix of surgeries, basic clinical work, and Lots of paperwork and administrative stuff. Not for everyone, but it's a fun possibility to think about.

  2. So far I am enjoying the change of pace from general practice. It is refreshing. The clinical veterinarian there was telling me how she enjoys actually being able to do something about improper care of the animals. If the researcher has something in the protocol that is not in the animals best interest, she can offer suggestions for change, if nothing changes, she can report them to IACUC and make the change happen. In general practice, there isn't much you can do. In our state, as long as food, water and shelter is available, animal control has their "hands tied". I don't think I want to spend the rest of my career in lab animal, but I am so grateful to have the opportunity for at least some exposure to it!