After 6/36 weeks of constant assessment during rotations - I am ready for a 3-week break! Even if 2 of those weeks are EMS, it feels like a holiday! To celebrate the end of the first block of rotations - we had a 'festival'.. I drank too much and am writing this severely hung-over, so apologies!
Rotations, at Liverpool at least, are divided into 6x 6 week blocks of either Equine, Farm or Small animal. But.. because I'm off to Oslo to do 2 rotation blocks next year, as part of the ERASMUS+ program, I've spent the past few weeks doing a mixture of all three. I think, it's safe to say there are pro's and cons to both - it's been great to mix with other groups but keeping track of where I am, who I am with and what is expected of me has been a nightmare. Prime example - day 1 on small animal anaesthesia, I forgot my stethoscope AND forgot that you need your student card to gain access to the hospital, resulting in me being locked out for 15minutes after lunch! Not only am I confused, but other students always double-take as they try and figure out why I am now in the SATH (Small Animal Teaching Hospital) for the first time in 5 weeks. It's been good to keep dipping into different 'information pools' in my brain, to keep the 3 areas connected in some way, as after 6 weeks of only looking at cows, I can imagine it will be difficult to look at dogs or horses after but my goodness it is tiring! Remembering the different doses and effects of various alpha-2 agonists and opioids in farm, equine and small anaesthesia has been the bane of my life so far!
Another thing that astounds me is the ridiculousness of health and safety. I am not a 'health and safety-hater', I think its important and believe strongly that just because 'we always did it this way' doesn't make it right.. but somethings just baffle me. Lunging a horse is now considered too dangerous for students and loading one onto the weigh bridge also requires actual 'adult' assistance, however standing directly behind a 'nervous' pony, squeezing an xray plate in between it's thighs whilst a strange and very scary white box (horizontal beam xray machine) is directed at it - didn't seem 'safe' to me!!! I've lived to tell the tale, but it's no surprise that being an equine vet is considered the 'most dangerous civilian job' and that, as the Horse and Hound wrote (made me giggle), 'equine vets are alarmingly unaware of health and safety'. Maybe it's the result of being kicked in the head too many times! Watching a horse recover from surgery is one of the most stressful and nail-biting events of any part of veterinary. I think Liverpool do a fantastic job (they really do 'know' horses) but I think more horses owners should not underestimate the risk of recovery! Many times I've heard owners almost beg the vet to refer the horse for surgery (maybe they think it's exciting) but it's not something to be undertaken lightly. No surgery is risk free, but if you are nearly half a tonne coping with the surgery itself is a challenge - horses don't bother to breath themselves, have such huge guts that they essentially squish their lungs and that they like to get myopathies. Its also safe to assume that as a flighty prey species, waking up in a padded cell all alone and feeling groggy, will be interpreted as scary. Horses only have a few ways to cope with 'scary' and that's - run fast or rear and we all known that this reaction is conducive to injuring themselves! Well, they aren't very good at standing post-surgery, so running isn't usually very successful and that rearing is a guaranteed nightmare. What's possibly most scary is when your senior clinician runs into the box to try and calm the horse - this is what I view as suicidal and I think he would be considered to be a vet 'alarmingly unaware of health and safety'. In my opinion, to be an equine vet, you should probably be an adrenaline junkie. For me, mixed practice seems the ideal balance of high-octane life-risking activity balanced with cuddling puppy's and playing with calves.
With that conclusion, I'm going to get another glass of water and some paracetamol.. Over and out.