On Vet School

by Rie

If you read this blog regularly and know me in no other context, you’d almost forget I’m in vet school. So much of my mind is involved in my inner life that I often forget I live in the real world. (That may be why I sometimes stop in wonderment when I realise that each human is an individual being capable of spontaneous thought.) (It would also explain why my link to the real world is so tenuous.)

Yet, I do have one foot in the world of veterinary science, so I am compelled to write about it. I am a fourth year student now. I graduate by the end of next year. My lecturers now have expectations that I know things even before the lecture starts. Like the classes of antimicrobials I might prescribe. Or why a horse might be lame and which ligament may be affected. Or the bugs that can cause a cow to fall over dead.

Sometimes I am really, really excited. Other times I am not. This is of detriment. In so many ways.

It strikes me that veterinary science is one of those things best justified by passion. There is little practicality in joining this world. The quality of medicine you get to practice varies so much, it’s a little ridiculous. It is dependent on you, how much money your practice has, how much money your client is willing to spend, and a bunch of other factors that just hangs over your head.

This (the notion that I have to practise the best medicine I can) bothers me a little less now because I don’t know if I could encourage anyone to spend six thousand dollars on a dog. And that just speaks to how little a dog can be worth, doesn’t it? There’s also an interesting tic in vet science that – being so market driven – we are compelled to spend as little as possible when trying to treat an animal. I’m not sure doctors do that. Or, maybe, at least, not doctors in the metropolitan area.

But, the point is, it still bothers me. I mean, surely, if quality of care can be compromised, it must not mean very much. So, who do I really help? The person who can afford it. Right?

Does that make sense? The problem is that it does.

The other thing is that I’m not that passionate about what I’m doing now. I really can’t see my entire life revolving around the practice of veterinary medicine. I like my life as it is now. I like doing a million other random things. Sometimes I think I’d thrive in any other job but this, if only because my skill set fits better without me even trying.

But I do enjoy vet science. I just don’t know where I’m supposed to go after this.

On a slightly related note, we had a pregnancy testing practical last week. I would post pictures but I don’t have any. I think they’re the sort of pictures that would elicit discomfort anyway. (Just Google rectal palpation in a cow if you’re curious.) There’s also the worry that any pictures could be taken out of context and wild humans will sic themselves at my university.

Pregnancy testing in humans is really quite glamorous: ultrasound probe, willing patient, clean room. Ha. I stuck my arm up a cow’s rectum to try to decide if it was pregnant or not. I have an almost 100% fail rate. And by the end of the practical, I was lightheaded because cows really don’t care that your arm is in their rectum. They poop. A lot. And fart. And their gut keeps moving and the walls clamp down hard on your arm; I don’t know if my brain got enough blood in that hour.

Also, laundry. Necessary.