I spent these past eight weeks in a different kind of classroom. This classroom didn’t involve sitting in the same seat for eight hours and taking notes on lectures. Instead, it involved actively leaning and practicing clinical procedures, skills, and practices in the Clinical Skills Learning Center, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
This eight-week course, titled VM 601: “Clinical Practice I,” immerses first-year students in the lives of fourth-year students on their clinical rotations. The course consisted of three different components: colloquia three times per week to gain exposure to clinical and non-clinical opportunities in veterinary medicine; online learning modules; and weekly clinical rotations. From learning how to handle large animals on the Farm Animal Husbandry and Techniques rotation, to assisting fourth-year students in preparing and monitoring animals for surgery on the Anesthesia rotation, each rotation is a unique learning experience.
Some rotations are specifically offered solely to first-year students, such as the Small Animal Physical Examination and Anatomy rotation. In this rotation, 19 other first-year students and I learned how to perform physical examinations on small animals from the following services in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital: cardiology, dermatology, neurology, oncology, and ophthalmology. This rotation stood out to me because it allowed us to pick and choose what we liked best from each service’s physical examinations, preparing us to perform a holistic physical examination to the best of our ability when we are fourth-year students participating in our capstone clinical rotations.
Another benefit of being in a different rotation each week was meeting new people. In a class of 160 students, it had been difficult to get to know everyone during the first eight weeks of class because we sat in the same seats during lectures. Being in the clinics with new students each week allowed us to branch out and meet new people and learn from their varying backgrounds and perspectives.
Overall, after these eight weeks, I feel more confident and prepared to engage in clinical activities during my summer breaks and during the next clinical course, VM 606: “Clinical Practice II,” next year. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to meet and work with various clinicians and fourth-year students during VM 601, and I have a better understanding of the various clinical and non-clinical opportunities in the field of veterinary medicine.
By the way, that’s me on the left in the photo above.