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Some things take time...

August 14, 2023

Samantha Froud, AVC 2024, travelled to Sheshatshiu as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of writing.

At the start of the Chinook project, I had completed both internal medicine and anesthesia rotations, which while very important are not very similar to rural medicine. I had come into this project with limited surgical experience, having only completed two procedures on cats during our junior surgery laboratories. During our week at the clinic in Labrador I was able to complete several different surgical procedures, some of which I have never performed before on both dogs and cats. At the start, I realized that performing surgery in less than perfect conditions on very short non-adjustable tables with headlamps was very challenging compared to our set up at school. This presented a whole other set of challenges to overcome as the week progressed, I had to learn to really palpate things during surgery instead of relying on perfect visualisation for every step... and we also had to come up with solutions to making our tables higher or lower based on who was performing what procedure.

A photo of me struggling at suturing.

At the time we started our first day in the clinic, I had not performed a surgery in about three months and so my suturing skills were not as refined as they once were. My first procedure was a dog neuter, a surgery which I had never performed before. During this procedure, the actual surgery went well with lots of guidance from my instructors. However once we started closing, I quickly realized just how rusty I was at suturing. I was very frustrated with myself at the time- feeling like I knew how to do it, but my hands just didn’t seem to want to follow. As the week progressed and I was given the opportunity to complete another dog neuter I noticed a major increase in my confidence level, and I was able to complete the surgery much more efficiently with less guidance from my instructors. However, my suturing still needed some work. It was not until the final surgeries and many helpful tips from my incredible instructors that I was able to improve. I think that it is important to note that some skills take time. As students we expect to pick up on things immediately, but this is not realistic. I was very hard on myself the entire week due to my lack of suturing and knot burying abilities. Luckily, our supervisors in the clinic were supportive, and helped me to gain that confidence as the week progressed. Towards the end of the trip, I felt much better in my abilities to perform several different procedures, although I still have lot to learn.

Another learning moment for me involved client communication and doing medicine appointments with very few diagnostic tools. Throughout the week there were a lot of children that wanted to know more about what we were doing as well as curious owners. This gave me the opportunity to adjust my veterinary vocabulary so that community members could better understand as well as to practice having tough conversations regarding anesthetic risks. As the week went by, I noticed a huge increase in my comfort level when talking to clients as well as my physical exam skills.

Finally, I believe that this experience has allowed me to grow exponentially on a professional level. I learned how to work efficiently with a team that I have never worked with, how to communicate effectively, as well as how to integrate into a new community. I was able to practice veterinary medicine with an open mind and gain new perspectives on the spectrum of care while gaining valuable clinical experiences, and for that I will be forever grateful.

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