Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sprint to the finish!

The end is in sight, I can see the blue ribbon waiting for me! I just finished up my last rotation at the University of Illinois on Friday. Now I head off on 8 weeks of externships, and then I'm done! This last rotation, soft tissue surgery, was hands down my favorite so far.

I never expected to love surgery. I just had an interview recently where I was asked to name a couple of my favorite rotations/fields within veterinary medicine. I told my interviewer that I think there are common experiences in vet school that everyone goes through; when you try something you were dreading/thought you'd be terrible at and find you actually love and excel at it, and when you stumble upon something that you're randomly great at. For me, surgery was the thing that I expected to be awful at. The reason why is that I used to get quite faint while working as a tech and watching surgeries. It happened again at Ross in 3rd semester while watching a necropsy. I was terrified that I'd be unable to complete my live animal surgeries in 7th semester, so I volunteered for the feral cat spay/neuter days to get as much table time as possible before I had to do it for a grade. Turns out, I just have to be the one holding the scalpel! Once my mind is focused on a task, I'm able to shut out the part that gets woozy (usually, sometimes I still get a little light-headed and have to yawn, dance around a bit, bite my cheek, and then I can power through it). But it turns out, the same quality that drew me to culinary arts and pushing myself to achieve more and more adeptness at cooking, also applies to surgery. The perfect chocolate hazelnut tarte vs. the perfect gastropexy. Both require attention to detail and a delicate touch.

The thing I stumbled upon and just happened to be good at is radiographic imaging interpretation. The first day of class our professor said that in order to become good at reading radiographs we'd have to "learn how to see." And that it could take years for clinicians to develop this skill. For some reason, I can just see things intuitively. Pathological changes in radiographic images can be incredibly subtle, but for some reason they stand out to me. I'm able to create a 3D map in my mind of how structures sit within the body and overlay that with what I'm seeing on the 2D image in front of me, keeping a visual reference image of what "normal" would look like in comparison. I don't know why I can do this, and it was certainly unexpected. But now I really enjoy diagnostic imaging and want to pursue a continuing education and certification in the use of ultrasound, since I feel that's a weak area for me at the moment but it's such a profoundly useful tool in private practice if you know how to use it.

Speaking of interviews, I have potentially exciting news that I have to sit on until I know for sure. However, things appear to be falling into place, for both myself and my husband. Right now the future looks bright and we're both cautiously ecstatic. After 3+ years of living apart, and the fear that we wouldn't find work in the same city right away after I graduate and we'd have to continue to live separately for some time, our lives finally seem to be moving in the right direction. I'll post as soon as I know more!

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