Small Animal Clinical Placement

Technically I haven’t started my 4th year of vet, but we are allowed to do a few weeks of placement this summer break so that we could have more flexibility or time off next year.

I shadowed several vets at Brandon Park Veterinary Hospital for two weeks. It is a small animal clinic.

One of my favourite things we did was an endoscopy on a dog who had a couple episodes of epistaxis. This means we put a very tiny (and expensive!) camera up his nostrils to check if we could see anything abnormal. Unfortunately there was nothing too obvious so we moved on to try and take some biopsies. Biopsies are little pieces of tissue that we send to a lab for further analysis– sometimes they can tell us if there is a microscopic problem.

This clinic did not do as many spays and neuters as I am used to in a general practice. However, one of the surgeries I observed was a mammary strip removal. Mammary tumors are common in female dogs who have not been de-sexed. The best way to help is to surgically remove the entire mammary gland and lymphatics on that side of the abdomen.

We did do a couple of de-sexing surgeries. I got to scrub in and do most of a canine castration one day.Β  Β The next day I did a cat castration! Right now, getting hands-on surgical experience is my favourite thing! I like it because it’s new, and a bit scary, but I learn new tricks or tips every time. During this surgery the surgeon showed me a specific way to place my suture material over my instruments to make the procedure flow more smoothly.

Small animal clinics do a lot of dental surgeries, and this clinic is no different. I was lucky enough to assist and do a few dental’s myself. Actually cleaning and probing the teeth is much more interesting than monitoring anesthetic during the dental surgery (at least for me). I have yet to do any extractions.

This clinic seems to always have students around; and for good reason! It is a great learning environment. There was a different year 10 (grade 10) student doing work experience there each week. I actually really enjoyed teaching them about the basic and common procedures we were doing. It was nice to be able to actually voice my knowledge in a summarized manner and explain WHY and HOW we do certain procedures. I think the students appreciated it too.

I was also able to run a couple consults myself. This included taking the history and doing the physical exam and vaccines on my own. The vet supervised and then covered up on the things I missed. This particular vet also taught me a lot about behavior cues we can pick up from the animals.

Actually, every doctor that I followed around had a bit of a ‘specialty’. One vet taught me a lot about behavior, another was very good at surgery, and another focused on internal medicine and ultrasound. I actually really like ultrasound. After 6 or so years of watching ultrasounds the black and white blobs are starting to look like actual organs.

When it was slower, one of the vets gave me some cytology slides to look at, or a case to work through and then go to the drug room and pick out some prescriptions for managing the pet. I quickly learned that I had to read the label of every product. Most things we learned about in class were single drugs, but I found that a lot of the drugs on the shelf were combinations. This was really good practice for me to start making connections in my brain.

Another doctor would find cool cases with blood work or test results to go through with me. We would sit down and he would tell me the clinical signs that the animal had and then I would tell him my differentials based on what I saw on the blood work.

This was really a lovely but relaxed placement! Sorry, no pictures this time!

I’m back home in Canada for my ‘summer vacation’.


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…. see you in 2018!

2 thoughts on “Small Animal Clinical Placement

    • Hey! Technology has helped further the vet profession! It makes many of our diagnoses easier or faster and allows us to better communicate between others in the profession as well. It is also a great way to share the vet story! There is a lot of vets with Instagram, twitter, and blogs that document their daily lives πŸ™‚


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