This rotation presented challenges and amazing learning opportunities, much like my last few blocks of vet school. I realized how much I have committed to memory about small animals and how little I know about birds, other mammals and wildlife management. After 3 weeks, however, I can collect blood from turtles, vultures, foxes, owls, raptors and songbirds. Today I collected blood from a painted turtle (super hard because you can’t see a vein) and a Turkey vulture both on the first attempt. I am now familiar with radiographs of these species as well. I learned how to identify baby birds, how to bandage broken wings, and when to try and when to euthanize wildlife based on injury. I absolutely loved the cultivated learning environment. Every single case was made into a learning experience by the staff in a hands-on fashion. Kudos to an excellent wildlife teaching hospital.
The first 10 days were extremely challenging, but I persevered and the reward has been invaluable. I am equipped to answer wildlife and exotics questions from my clients. I am no longer afraid of handling birds; in fact I love birds. This block in many ways was similar to my equine block. I went in fearful and apprehensive and left loving it. However, wildlife medicine has its downsides. Many animals cannot be released and are euthanized and many days it feels like you kill more than treat. On the upside to that, for many animals you stop their suffering and there is no client or financial decisions to interfere with the medicine.
The past 3 weeks have again confirmed that I love emergency and critical care; it's where my passion lies. I watched a blockmate who truly is passionate about wildlife and realized that is exactly how I feel about emergency. I am so thankful I had the chance to explore different areas of vet med over the past 4 years: Research, government work, lab animal medicine, wildlife medicine, organized veterinary medicine and many others. It is ironic that all of my exploration led me back to emergency medicine. We'll see how much I still love it after the next year of hard hours. I am ready...bring it on!