General practice is where a large portion of vets will work after graduation. GP vets are capable of many things, but some of the most common appointments include health exams, vaccines, ear infections, skin problems, etc. We had 1 week of general practice rotation at the beginning of our 4th year and just finished a second week now, at the end of our year.
We spent one day each week at the university hospital with a specialist dermatologist who only saw skin patients. Skin issues can be so complicated! I am glad we got to spend 2 full days with the dermatologist only looking at this one body system (yes, the skin is a whole body system!). Skin issues can be complex and involve infections and allergies or other diseases. Often it can take lots of time and searching to find an answer to your pet’s problem! Most of the skin patients we saw ended up having allergies to things in the environment (like grasses, dust mites, etc) or food.
One patient we saw was presented to us because his toenails kept falling off. The dog was diagnosed with symmetric lupus onchodystrophy, which is a disease I have read about in my notes many times… however, the dermatologist said this is quite rare and he has only seen one case in his whole career!
We had quite a few vaccine appointments where we got to practice our physical exams, vaccine injections, history taking, and medical note writing.
In my second week of GP I happened to be rostered on with the exotics vet for a couple days! This was pretty cool because instead of cats and dogs I saw lots of different kinds of patients like: rabbits, chickens, blue tongued skinks, bearded dragons, turtles, eclectus parrots, and cockatoos! These are all animals that may need a vet at some point in their lives but we don’t get to see them very commonly. We have some lectures on exotic animals but often, most of our learning is done day to day when the problems arise!
Some highlights included doing first health exams for nine (NINE) baby bunnies! They were all very cute… I mean, healthy. And fluffy… I mean, eating well…
I also enjoyed an appointment with a blue tongued skink with who had a suspected broken back! After a full exam I got to take x-rays of him to look at his spine. In the end, he was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease. We talked about changes his owner could make in his tank, diet, and gave him some pain medication!
Another very cool thing was having a patient (cockatoo) who was older than me! That hasn’t happened since I first started working in veterinary clinics when I was 17.
One day of the week we are rostered on to help with minor procedures. I helped monitor the anesthetic for Jess to do a cat castration. Then we had an aural hematoma repair (one of my favorite small animal appointments to do!). This is a condition in dogs where the skin of the ear fills up with blood. It can be very uncomfortable and swollen. At previous clinics I have worked at you can release the pressure and then suture something on to the ear so the area cannot fill up with blood again. I think it looks cutest when you suture buttons onto the ear. At uni however, I got to suture on little pieces of tubing.
General practice rotation flew by. Next up is our second week of desexing rotation at an animal shelter in the city.