This week I thought that I would tell you a bit about my work experience. To date, I have only one ‘piece’ of work experience under my belt, but I do have a lot more planned.
My work experience took place over five days; the 24th to the 28th of October, 2016 at Summerleaze Veterinary Hospital in Maidenhead. There were many jobs to be done, a lot of cleaning and many pairs of surgical/examination gloves were used.
Day one: I arrived 10 minutes early, at 8.50am, in order to sign a form and get settled in. All the vet nurses were friendly and showed me where I would be working for the week. My first job of the morning was to wash the walls and doors of the corridor and the treatment room with a solution of disinfectant. The next job of the day was to hold a long-haired black cat. This cat was brought into the hospital to be ‘dematted’, i.e. removal of matted hair. Unfortunately, this situation could have been avoided if the cat’s owners had brushed her fur every day. The result of this treatment was a more comfortable cat and a work experience girl covered in black fluff! There were no jobs that needed doing for a few minutes after that, so I got some time to watch a bitch spay through the window into the operating theatre. It was a laparoscopic spay and so was less intrusive for the dog. Next, I put a load of washing in the washing machine and also put a load into the dryer. When the lap. spay was finished, I cleaned all the surgical instruments and put them into the autoclave to be sterilised. After a 40 minute lunch, I cleaned out the dog and cat kennels and also wiped down all the treatment tables with disinfectant. I finished the day at 4.15pm, after hoovering the treatment area, operation theatre, and the x-ray room. Glove count: 7 pairs.
Day two: After disinfecting the treatment area and corridors again, I sat with ‘Rolo’, a chocolate laborador in his kennel. Rolo had a broken leg and so had to stay at the hospital to recuperate. However, he greatly missed his family and, as a result, refused to eat any of his food. In an attempt to get him to eat, I sat in his kennel, coaxing him with some meat. More meat got on my clothes than in his mouth! Next, I cleaned surgical instruments from a surgery that had taken place the night before, put on the dryer and cleaned the preparation room. Unfortunately, a french bulldog was brought in that morning, following severe vomiting of blood and vaginal bleeding. This dog had been spayed the previous day, so it was clear that there were some complications. Surgery began almost straight away and lasted for the majority of the day. After her surgery, I sat with her as she was recovering from her anaesthetic. I also hoovered the prep. room, cat ward, dog ward, x-ray room and utility room and following that I held a miniature poodle that was having its temperature taken. Naturally, he was not happy about this and I got the brunt end; scratches all down both my arms. After an hours lunch break, I held a dog still as he got an ultrasound on his heart. The dog was a small terrier of approx. 14 years old and he had a heart murmur. It was very interesting to see this procedure take place and to hear about the treatment options. Glove count: 5 pairs.
Day three: On the Wednesday, I disinfected the corridor, prep. room, treatment area, x-ray room and mopped the utility room and the cat, dog and isolation wards. After that, I put away clean washing, and also put another load of washing on (there is always a mountain to be done)! Additionally, I played with a kitten after stocking up the syringe supply. The kitten had fractured her femur and had been signed over to the hospital as her previous owners couldn’t afford treatment. After cleaning out her cage, I sat in on a consultation. In this consultation, a bull mastiff had been brought in with an ear infection in both ears. After a normal health check, I held the dog still while the vet took a sample of the bacteria in his ears. She then proceeded to stain and look at the bacteria under a microscope in hospital’s laboratory, discovering that the culprit was a yeast infection. I was allowed to view the bacteria under the microscope and even calibrate it, which I found to be a fascinating experience! After the consultation, I returned to the treatment area where I was asked to help hold a dog still whilst a couple of the nurses were trying to remove its catheter. After a lot of whining, the catheter was finally removed. That day, I was also lucky enough to watch part of a sarcoma removal surgery (through the window into the op. theatre). Glove count: 3 pairs.
Day four: Usual morning cleaning and disinfecting but I also got to sit in on a screw-tail amputation which was thoroughly exciting! After putting on some scrubs (and feeling very grown-up!) I held the particular dog as he was being sedated. The dog was called ‘Pig’ and was a pug. Due to inbreeding, however, his tail had grown in a cork-screw shape, but was growing in towards his rear, causing irritation and infection, therefore requiring an amputation (and probably a change of name!). The operation lasted an hour and a half and there was a lot of blood covering the floor. The surgeon, after ‘unscrewing’, to some extent, and pinning the tail cut through one of the upper coccygeal vertebra, to remove the tail, with the vet nurse monitoring the dog’s vital signs. Following the surgery, the dog needed to be taken downstairs to recover and I was asked to carry his saline solution bag and drip as he was being carried. The rest of the day was spent wiping down examination tables and hoovering the theatre and dental rooms. I also checked the blood pressure cuffs to make sure that they were all working. Glove count: 2 pairs.
Final day: Day five started with an endoscopy on a Labrador, who was had been vomiting blood though the night. Although unpleasant for the dog, it was very interesting. Next, I disinfected the corridors, treatment area, dental room, utility room and prep. room. I also cleaned out a dog kennel and a cage that had contained a pigeon. I was asked to clean out the pigeon cage after a vet nurse had come in from outside, saying that she had “released the pigeon” and that it should have flown home by that evening. I then did some washing and drying and cleaned some surgical instruments. After that, I cuddled a cat called ‘Tommy’, who had been bored all day. Tommy was a stray that had been brought in to the hospital after the person who had been feeding him saw that he had an infection in one of his eyes. Unfortunately, his left eye could not be saved and was removed. Although he was confused at first, Tommy soon settled down, but remained quite an active cat, loving attention and being fussed. My next job was to hold a greyhound racer. This greyhound was fairly old and had pain in his hips, which is not uncommon among his breed and job. It was heart breaking to hear him whine and see him cringe when the vet examined his hind legs and muscles. My final jobs of the day were to mop and vacuum all the floors, as well as to check the breathing tubes, making sure that there were no blockages and rearranging them according to size. Glove count: 4 pairs.
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my week at Summerleaze and, although it was very tiring, I gained a new respect for the work of veterinarians and veterinary nurses, and the environment that they work in. The pride that they take in their work is something that everyone should strive towards.
For those people thinking of getting work experience in a veterinary clinic or hospital, here are my ten tips, based on my experience and what I learned:
- Expect cleaning. Lots of it. After all, it is essential and supports the whole practice.
2. Be confident, but respectful of your ’employers’ wishes.
3. Accept every task with a smile.
4. Offer to do jobs for the vet. nurses.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit in on a consult, or to watch a surgery, or even just to ask what is going on.
7. Have common sense and try not to get in the way.
8. Be helpful.
9. Ask questions.
10. Most importantly, enjoy it and have fun!
Shout out to Summerleaze veterinary hospital, thank you again!
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