My first year farm animal nursing session was a pretty dismal experience. There were practically no patients but the barn nurse who was in charge of showing us around and getting us involved insisted on giving us a 2.5 hour tour during which she asked very specific and detailed questions of us regarding large animal medicine. Keep in mind, the second year student I was with was focusing on small animal medicine, just as I was; we had no idea how to answer the questions that were asked of us. We felt lost and incompetent. And to make matters worse, the session was at night in the middle of winter when the temperatures were in the upper 30s to lower 40s and we spent a great deal of time outside, our breath visible in the cold night air as we fielded questions from the barn nurse.
Needless to say, this year I was not exactly excited for my farm animal nursing session. Nevertheless, I showed up with a good attitude with a first year who did the same and the barn nurse was someone I was familiar with and who was also small animal focused. Fortunately for us, the staff had an emergency that morning which meant that they were unable to do rounds that morning. Instead, they did rounds at 6pm when we arrived. We were able to walk around with the doctors, techs, and 4th year students who presented each of the cases that were being seen in the barn. The barn was full and there was a varied caseload, which was incredibly interesting to hear about. As we went from case to case I noticed something: just about everything the doctors were saying made sense! A year ago I would have been lost and eyes glazed over upon hearing the terms they were using to describe each case, but this year I followed with little difficulty and asked questions when necessary. The doctors were incredibly helpful and informative!
Upon finishing rounds, the barn nurse gave us a quick tour and did ask a few questions of us — and I even knew the answer to a few of the questions! We gave an uncooperative pig an injection and TPR’d a calf — more than I did last year — and then were allowed to leave. A much better experience, overall!
My farm animal nursing session this year is only one example of how I’ve been able to apply my knowledge from first year. It’s incredibly satisfying to see how far you’ve come in just a short period of time!