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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Culture Shock

In coming from wildlife rehab to small animal medicine, there was definitely some things to adjust too.
                 What stood out to me the most was the focus. With wildlife, the entire animal is observed.  When getting them off the street, you have no idea the scope of the animal’s injuries.  In examination you watch the face and eyes while probing wounds, feel bones opposite obvious breaks, and observe the animal on a large scale, because any reaction or variation could give you a clue to the full extent of the damage. With companion animals, on the other hand, they have already been under the close supervision of someone who knows them well. The owner knows their dog’s behavior, gait, eating habits, and a host of other minutia unique to that animal, so when they come in with a limp, only the leg is radiographed, instead of the entire body. This fine focus translates to surgery as well, where the companion animal is draped entirely in surgical cloth, leaving only the 2 inch by ½ inch strip of cat exposed for incision.
                The other huge difference was the pacing.  At the clinic, Dr C had his appointments for the day plotted on a computer program.  His appointments and surgeries are scheduled, and in the intervening time, the vet techs  take care of the day to day tasks  at the measured pace of working professionals. The infirmary is frenetic. Especially in the summer, Max the vet is pulled in innumerable directions. Tending to animals already there, taking in new animals (that often arrive in large groups) at random throughout the day, and tending to a perpetually new staff of volunteers.   
Every day is a new learning experience! Next time maybe I’ll go over the things that carry over into both practices…. 

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