The Drive

Nantika (far left) and her surgical team
Nantika (far left) and her surgical team

As I am driving along State Highway 21 from College Station back to Dallas for winter break, I am feeling both joy and anxiety.

My friend’s words are stuck in my head: “We are 5/8 doctor!” as we just finished our fifth semester in veterinary school. The joyful part is that I’m more than half way through my veterinary education; the anxiety-laden part is that there are only three semesters left before I become a doctor and go out into the real world.

It feels like it was just yesterday when I drove along this highway from Dallas to College Station for my vet school interview. Five semesters have gone by very fast.

However, it has laid a very strong foundation. The highlight of this semester was the surgery class. It was stressful, but I gained more confidence after each surgery laboratory, which includes a surgery group of three students rotating weekly through the roles of surgeon, assistant surgeon, and anesthetist.

The surgeon needs to be certain in surgical procedures and the anatomy of the patient. Once the procedure starts and the patient is under anesthesia, we are on the clock.

The anesthetist must monitor how deep the patient is under the anesthetic gas and that adequate oxygen flow is delivered to the patient. The blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature must be within normal range. The assistant surgeon needs to be sure that the proper surgical equipment and aseptically (protected against infections) technique be prepared for surgery.

During this learning process, besides the surgical knowledge, I also learned to communicate effectively with my surgical team. Upon completing this course, I feel I’ve gained the confidence to continue my journey as a doctor.

I can see that next time I drive back home on this state highway, I will be driving as a “6/8 doctor,” and, finally, in May 2020, I will become “a doctor.”