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The Last Patient

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

August 6, 2023


Cortney Chadbourne, 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.


This photo evokes feelings of: accomplishment, success, and “we did it!” This was our last

surgical patient of the trip. Sandy, the sweet girl pictured next to me, had recently given birth to a litter of puppies and presented to us to be spayed. Her surgery was challenging but successful, and she was recovering from surgery in this photo. As I sat with her as she

recovered from surgery, I had the opportunity to sit quietly with my own thoughts and reflect on all we had accomplished and what it took to do so.


I remember continuing to watch Sandy and smiling to myself. She had such a kind

demeanor and loved to snuggle, even when I performed her physical exam prior to surgery she was sitting on my lap. This photo to me reminds me how special it is that we are entrusted to care for people’s pets. I take this role very seriously and to the greatest extent. I don’t just desire to provide medical care to animals; I deeply value connecting with them and becoming a safe, friendly face. Not all patients are comfortable enough in a clinic to be open to this, but I really value the emotional connection when we have a kind patient, like Sandy, that I can dote on.


Realizing that we had finally finished our time serving the Sheshatshiu Community, it

made me have a huge sense of accomplishment and of union with my team. We were united

by a love for animals and a desire to help a community. With our combined effort we actually

were able to make a difference for the animals in this community. This photo also reminds me that veterinary medicine truly is not all about the animals. Success in veterinary medicine calls for natural empathy for the human you are serving as well. Sandy’s owner needed assistance getting Sandy home and into the house, so we opted to drive her home ourselves and lend a hand. I carried Sandy into the home, where she had a bed of blankets and pillows set out for her. I remember feeling thankful with a full heart that Sandy was going to be comfortable, cared for and was obviously loved by her family.





Veterinary medicine is certainly not all happy endings, so I have found, moving up from

being a kennel assistant to veterinary technician to veterinary student and soon to be doctor,

that you need to take the high points and relish in that feeling. Even writing this piece and

recalling the emotions I was feeling in this photo, I am filled with contentment and genuine

happiness recalling my sweet patient and being able to go beyond the normal expectations

and assisting her family with transporting her home. I truly live for those moments. The positive moments are what fuel your heart to keep going through the really tough moments.






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