It was a busy summer for me! Between a summer job, getting married, and taking time for myself, I was booked! Summer breaks between academic years at vet school can feel intimidating and like you have to get the most experience possible. But the reality is, any experience is good experience, and you shouldn’t compare your timeline with anyone else’s.
I had a great experience at Banfield this summer through their student job program. It was an easy way to see the inner workings of a clinic while having flexible enough hours for wedding planning. My time was spent primarily following around the doctor, learning what she does day-to-day, and assisting the technicians when needed. It was definitely a unique experience where I did not have set expectations or a specific role in the clinic, but I was meant to learn and practice clinical skills.
I had the opportunity to practice lots of clinical skills that are just not the same in our Clinical Skills Learning Center. These included blood draws, scrubbing in, anesthesia monitoring, running bloodwork and viewing on a microscope, radiographic positioning, and much more.
My favorite experience was the involvement they let me have in their dental procedures. I had seen dentals done many times before but being involved made me view it differently. I started by making medical notes for the technician on what teeth were fractured, loose, etc. Then I moved on to doing cleanings and counting the teeth. My favorite part was the extractions, whether an easy pull from degraded teeth or having to drill and wiggle out a multiple-rooted tooth.
Make the Most of Your Experiences
While this was a great time and I really did learn a lot, I can’t help but compare myself to other students who seemed to be further along than I am. I see other students traveling to different states, externing at unique specialty clinics, getting to perform surgeries or other high-level procedures, and I cannot help but feel lesser than.
In fact, it was not until writing this that I started to realize different experiences are valuable for different people, and we are all on a different paths. Everyone came into vet school with different experience levels and different learning goals; for me, I did not have as much technical experience as others and so my summer experience was very valuable to me. Even with that, there is no telling what the next summer will entail, and maybe my time is coming for that higher level of experience as well.
The moral of the story that I learned this summer and the weeks following is to take advantage of what is in front of you right now. You can make the most of your experiences and make them valuable for yourself even if they are not the most magical thing in the world. There is no rushing the perfect plan given to us in life, so just be patient for the day to come.