Beyond the Classroom

It’s hard to believe the first semester of third year is almost over. The past few months have just flown by in a blur of classes, labs and tests, with a little bit of experience actual clinical experience thrown in to keep me happy!

Almost immediately after returning from Egypt, my body not yet adjusted to the time change, access to clean water or paved roads, I had the chance to travel to the heart of horse country; Lexington, Kentucky. Every year, some of the top equine practices in North America host the “Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar”, a weekend long conference for veterinary students interested in Equine Medicine that are entering their third year. Over three days, students get a chance to visit local vet clinics, stud farms, racetracks and most importantly meet potential employers and future colleagues from all over Canada and the United Sates. Having just returned from Egypt, I was in a little bit of culture shock, witnessing some of these castles they call stud farms and the exceptional veterinary facilities with the most state of the art equipment. However, I must say I was pretty happy to be back on this side of the ocean!

What truly inspired me throughout the whole experience (beyond the simply astounding farms and veterinary facilities that exist in a few square miles of Kentucky!) was the chance to get to know other students from around the world all interested in becoming equine veterinarians. Not a single one of us took the same path to get where we are today, some were raised on the backstretch, their parents trainers, some grew up on beef farms in Texas, some didn’t touch a horse until their first year of Veterinary school. But despite our different journeys to get there, we all ended up at the same destination, drawn to the grueling but ultimately rewarding and dynamic field of equine medicine.

Upon returning from Kentucky, inspired by how truly diverse and ever-changing the options were for an equine veterinarian, it was a bit disheartening to realize that only about one-tenth of the third year curriculum was dedicated to equine medicine, with a whole bunch of small animal, food animal and even parrots and fish thrown in as well. But a DVM degree requires knowledge in the treatment of every species, and even if I never plan on treating parrots, knowing how to will allow me to actually earn my degree and help me pass my national board exam next year!

Luckily, the veterinarians at McKee-Pownall realize how hard it is to get that hands-on equine experience in school. Offering to host a student day, we were able to organize the chance for 22 students to spend the day learning about equine imaging and diagnostics, as well as the chance to actually use the radiology and ultrasonography equipment on live horses. The entire day was incredibly well run, and the veterinarians and support staff of MPES really made the day exceptional. For most of the first through third year students, this was the first time they were ever able to take an x-ray of a horses leg, or place an ultrasound probe on a tendon. The chance to learn with this equipment and from these veterinarians really helped many of us better understand what we were looking for and how to approach cases. For me, I have always loved radiology, but ultrasound has always been very spatial and abstract for my brain! To be able to have the vets of MPES take the time to walk us through how to place the probe, adjust depth and most importantly how to interpret the black fuzz we were seeing was a experience we could never get from a textbook or sitting in a classroom. To have such support and mentorship from future colleagues is yet another reason that equine medicine is one of the most rewarding careers I could ever choose.

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