Exernship #1 complete. I learned tons about equine practice, but most surprisingly, I learned many things about how I feel about veterinary medicine, equine practice, and this practice in particular. I record them here to guide me when selecting future externships.
Things I learned:
Veterinary medicine is 100% the profession for me. I don't know how I ever thought I could do anything different. It is creative and cerebral, with little down time. It encourages and requires continued learning.
I love equine practice. More importantly, I am convinced that I could do it. The fact that I have never competed in eventing or high-school dressage does not need to stand in the way of my becoming an equine vet it it is what I want to do.
I like ambulatory practice a surprising amount. My revelation is that ambulatory practitioners in California, as compared to the Midwest, do not have to drive in the snow. Those double-lined insulated coveralls I have had my eye on would not be necessary. Hopefully, my net externship will be at a clinic with a larger inpatient population so I can compare the lifestyles of hospitalists and ambulatory practitioners. Although I am leaning towards internal medicine, the idea of having a truck of my own with a fully-stocked vet box in the back is exciting.
I am a know-it-all, but sometimes this is okay. I think 24 years into my life I have finally learned how to not be obnoxious about it, because that just doesn't make you any friends. I was lucky in that several of the vets at the practice were academically-minded, and enjoyed discussing arcana of anatomy, parasitology, and other subjects with which I have just been acquainted. This is reassuring, because I have met other vets who have an "I don't remember that crap" attitude about vet school. This is demoralizing when the majority of your time is spent learning and being tested on that "crap." At this practice, I met vets of the sort that I want to be.
I crave to be told I am doing a good job. This is not a good thing, because someday I will be in a situation where I need the conviction that I am practicing good medicine whether or not someone tells me so.
Wherever I end up interning, I want to make sure there is good mentorship. Nothing builds my confidence as much as performing a procedure with someone there to watch and correct me if necessary. I also believe that at times, you have to drive your own experience as regards mentorship. Looking at the two different interns and my perceptions of their experiences, I suspect that the extent to which you feel comfortable asking for what you need determines what you get. I need to remember to be clear about requesting to be taught things and to ask or assistance often.
Getting along with the techs and clinicians is paramount to one's happiness in a workplace. A little friendliness and a lot of humility go a long way. This practice had almost exclusively wonderful people.
To pack next time:
Chapstick with SPF: I fear my lips lost out on my fastidious sun-protection regimen
Electrolyte water: boy was it hard to stay hydrated jogging horses in the midday sun. I thought I would be alright with plain water, since the weather is much less humid than I am used to. Instead, I was just dehydrated the whole time and now I feel really hungover.
Polos: kind of the extern uniform. I hate polos, so I did not shell out the money to buy them just for this externship. But I think next time I will.
Twice as many homemade granola bars: little rectangles of peanut buttery, almondy, dried fruit-y, chocolate chip-y joy. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. One of these has enough energy to keep you going for hours at a time. That's probably why I ran out one week in.
A camera: well, actually, an iPhone. Once I have one. Good for taking pictures of cool cases, using as a watch for TPRs, making notes, setting timers, looking up drug info, calculating drug doses- I need one of these. Really.
Things to not pack next time:
A sundress: wishful thinking. It was not really warm enough by the time I got off work, anyway.
When I left, the clinic was effusive in their praise of me, which made me blush. They encouraged me to come back, which I would love to do. I will actually miss all the people there, and I will definitely miss the daily routine, which I was just getting down. I scheduled this externship as kind of a "throwaway" externship to get my feet wet in equine practice, since I am not a fourth year and am therefore not a candidate for internship next year. I ended up loving it. I thrived. I eventually felt like part of a team. Although I need to visit as many clinics as possible, I will definitely try to come back to this clinic in future years.