Two years ago I was a third year veterinary student attending Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar (OEPS) held in Lexington, Kentucky. Being a Kentucky girl, this was a great excuse to come home for the weekend, show my classmates the beauty of Central Kentucky and learn more about a future in the equine veterinary world. Now as an Intern, I am getting to experience OEPS from a different perspective. The two years since I attended OEPS as a student has flown by, things in my life have definitely changed, and I am ecstatic to be living my dream- the constant smile on my face is testament to how much I love what I do.
As a student at OEPS, I enjoyed listening to the practitioners speak about life as an equine vet; so many of my questions about internships were answered during that amazing weekend and my decision to pursue a career in equine veterinary medicine was confirmed yet again. As a veterinarian at OEPS, I have enjoyed seeing friends from across the country, meeting students interested in equine medicine, but most of all, I have gotten to share my personal experience and passion for equine medicine to future equine veterinarians. In preparation for OEPS, my internmates and I got together and made a humorous video for the students. It just goes to show you that an equine internship isn’t all work and no play; we make time to enjoy ourselves and find ways to laugh even during the busiest of times.
Life as a Hagyard Intern – click for video.
It doesn’t seem possible that only two months have past since I started as a field care intern at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Every day is filled with opportunities to learn and grow as a veterinarian. Being an intern at a prestigious clinic like Hagyard, is not only an honor but also a great opportunity. On July 2nd, I walked through the front doors of Hagyard as a newcomer and full of anxiety about living up to the standards of such an amazing clinic. This anxiousness was quickly laid to rest, as every single veterinarian and staff member was full of kind words and open arms. As a young veterinarian, there is a steep learning curve in your first year; as a Hagyard Intern, the steep learning curve is filled with seasoned vets constantly encouraging you and helping you along this journey. Everyone wants to see you succeed and is willing to go out of their way to help you achieve great success. My intern class is also extremely lucky as all of the field care interns knew each other before we started our internship and consider each other great friends; at the end of the day it is helpful to have close friends who know exactly what you are going through and can be there to grill out and laugh with you through it all.
Riding along with different field veterinarians and meeting all of their clients dominated the first month of my internship. While July in Central Kentucky is considered a slow time of year, the caseload is still far greater than most academic institutes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t go home at night mentally and physically tired. Every day I learned an incredible amount of information and gave myself plenty of homework assignments to review before the next day. For those who think learning stops when you graduate from veterinary school, you are wrong. Veterinary school is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowledge acquisition. Studying, post-graduation, is more in-depth than just studying for a test; it is studying for life. Every vet at Hagyard is great about teaching, talking through cases, and helping weave the knowledge I acquired from veterinary school in with the practical field knowledge. One day that stands out in my mind is a day I spent with Dr. Stuart Brown, President of Hagyard and fellow Tuskegee Alumni. In the process of discussing a weanling we had seen, we got into the discussion about pneumonia which lead to an in depth learning session where we tied together the pathophysiology, anatomy, clinical presentation, diagnostics, and treatment. To summarize- that was information gleaned from 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year and 4th year of veterinary school, some of which I never thought could be clinically applicable- but I was wrong! I am lucky to say that Hagyard has some of the best equine vets in the world but they are also the best teachers.
One of the great things about being a field care intern at Hagyard is the flexibility. This internship allows you to work with a vast amount of veterinarians and learn different approaches or styles to equine medicine. This allows you to learn from the best minds in the practice, and pick and choose how you want to practice veterinary medicine. The large number of practitioners in the clinic is a definite plus; it is like being on “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” and having 38 lifelines. There is always someone a phone call away whether it is in the middle of the night and you need to discuss a case, or you are studying and need some clarification.
Another great aspect of the field care internship at Hagyards is the opportunity to spend time in the surgery and medicine departments. The time spent in the other departments not only provides you a chance to view how things are done in those areas, but also a different perspective and additional learning opportunities. My second month as an intern had me at the McGee Medicine Center learning from practitioners who not only are on the forefront of equine medicine but also in many cases, wrote the book about it! The second night I was on call gave me plenty of chances to learn. Starting at 5pm, only 15 minutes after being home, I received a phone call that a patient was colicing and I was needed back at the clinic. As soon as that patient was stable, another emergency was on its way in- this time it was a neurologic patient who could not stand. After working with the second emergency for several hours, the third emergency came through the door just after midnight. By 3 am, the third emergency was semi-stable and I headed home for a couple hours sleep. At 4 am, the technician monitoring emergency number 3 notified me that it was uncomfortable again; so back to the clinic I went! At 5 am, horse number 3 was sent to surgery, which I got to watch for a short period of time before I headed back to medicine to take care of my other patients and come up with the treatment plans for the day. This steady flow of emergencies was just the experience that I needed to help build my confidence and teach me how to handle these situations. The entire night I was supported by an amazing primary doctor who was there every step of the way, allowing me to take a large role in the cases while also knowing my limitations, and wonderful technicians who are blessed with years of experience and expert training also helped me. This night was just one of many where the learning opportunities were abundant. My time at the McGee Medicine center was well spent and took my medical knowledge to the next level.
As I enter the third month of my internship, I am excited to be back in the field. It is sales time in Central Kentucky and that means radiographs, radiographs, and more radiographs before the sale. This past week, I took over 700 radiographs (or x-rays) in one day! Shortly, I will be working at the Keeneland sale and watching the next generation of Thoroughbred racehorses sell. As an owner and exhibitor of Saddlebred show horses, this is a different side of the horse business than I am use to, but I am excited to be a part of it!
Stay tuned for more stories from myself and other interns at Hagyard as we document our internship and give you a glimpse into our lives as new equine veterinarians! I have left a great deal of stories out of my summary of my first two months, but don’t worry- they will make it into the blog at some point. I hope you enjoy my experiences as much as I have and continue to do. The life of an intern is full of hard work, lots of learning, and as much fun as you can imagine!