One of the most highly anticipated days for a veterinary student is the day you do your first spay or neuter in third year. That day is almost here for me!
We have put in so much time and effort to get to this point, and I’ll have to admit, there are some times that I feel out of my depth facing clinics next year. Despite all of the information I’ve crammed into my head over the past two years, I realize that just knowing all the medicine doesn’t fully prepare you to practice medicine. Surgery, especially, is one of the most daunting hurdles to reach and is a rite of passage for students.
The really cool thing about third-year surgeries is that not only are we forwarding our experience in school, but we’re also giving back to the community. All of the animals are from local animal shelters; the school provides the surgeries free of charge for shelters and future owners to encourage adoption, because spays and neuters are one of the most costly parts of adopting an animal. Spaying and neutering also will prevent aggressive behavior and will remove the risk of infection (most commonly talked about is pyometra).
Every animal is assigned to a surgical group and looked after for a week, getting loved on and spoiled during their stays. We spend this time bonding with our soon-to-be patients and applying our learned knowledge to a real-life animal. The surgeries are overseen by board certified surgeons.
And then once the surgery is done and the patients have been observed for post-op recovery, they are all put up for adoption. What I think is funny is that it’s not uncommon for some of the students to inquire about their patient’s adoption status and may even adopt the animals themselves.
Ultimately, I love this feature of this profession and this school, in particular—that we actively work to the benefit of the animals in our community while also educating students to continue this service in their future careers. It’s just a part of being one step closer to becoming a full-fledged baby dog-tor!