Teddy Bear Surgery

Laurel at Teddy Bear SurgeryLast weekend was our college’s annual open house. The event is entirely run by student volunteers, and guests come to visit from all over the state. This year was my last time to attend Open House as a volunteer, which was bittersweet because volunteering is always rewarding.

I worked at one of the most popular events offered at Open House known as “Teddy Bear Surgery.” Children bring their stuffed animals to Open House and perform “surgery” with the assistance of second and third-year veterinary students in the actual surgery suites in the Small Animal Hospital. We make the experience as close to actual surgery as we can, so everyone is dressed in proper surgical attire, and we use leftover/donated surgical suture and surgical equipment. It is so much fun to see these future veterinarians gowned and gloved toting their “patients” in for surgery.

During my shift, I helped my teddy bear surgeons perform operations ranging from major orthopedic surgery on the spine of a teddy bear to splinting the tail of a walrus! My favorite surgery was on a green stuffed dog named “Green Puppy,” in which the surgeon declared he needed “colon surgery.” We proceeded to do an “abdominal exploratory” on this dog, “resected the bowel,” and “closed the incision,” and the girl was thrilled. She took her job as assistant surgeon very seriously, and I even had her checking her patient’s vitals on our anesthetic monitoring machine! I think I had just as much fun as she did.

As finals week rapidly approaches, and my enthusiasm for school wanes, I remind myself of the excitement I felt when playing “teddy bear surgeon” with the next generation of vets.

From the Classroom to Actually Practicing Medicine

I feel like I say this all the time, but I can’t believe how quickly the semester is flying by! The kicker is that this semester is my last semester of formal class in veterinary school, which is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I’m trying to soak up as much information as possible during this last semester because I know there is a time in the not-so-distant future when I’ll be expected to put this knowledge to use. It’s funny to think how eager I was first year to finish the classroom portion of vet school and get into clinics, and now I’m wishing I could review anatomy with the first years one last time. Don’t get me wrong: I am excited to be done with the classroom, especially after four years of undergrad and almost three years of vet school. It’s just that I’ve finally gotten the studying down; I really am a professional student. In May, I will have to start over, in a sense, and build an entirely new skill set as I begin to practice medicine.

I keep thinking: isn’t there more they need to teach us before we start fourth-year clinics?! There’s still so much to learn! But I just need to remind myself that I’m not the first vet student to feel this way and the process obviously works, because every class says the same thing around this time in their third year, and then they end up graduating in May. As one of our professors said, “We want to make the transition from the classroom to actually practicing medicine as smooth as possible, but there’s no way to do that except kick you out of the nest. You will fall for a bit, but I promise we’ll be here to help guide you.”

I know that my class, the Class of 2016, will be just fine once we start clinics in May. We just need to have confidence in all that we’ve learned here at Texas A&M!