Is this a big hurdle to becoming a vet?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by sally24, May 26, 2012.

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  1. sally24


    May 26, 2012
    I'm 16 years old, and I'm thinking about becoming a veterinarian. I absolutely adore animals, and it's something that I can really see myself doing.

    Thing is, I just recently found out that it's mandatory for all vets to perform surgery. To be honest, the thought of having to do that makes me a little nervous. I don't know how I would react to it. Is it normal to be hesitant about the blood and gore, or is this a sign that I should pick a different profession?

    Thank you so much. :)
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  3. Lissarae06

    Lissarae06 Insert Veterinarian Badge Here 7+ Year Member

    You won't know until you spend time around it. It's really not that bad. Try to shadow a vet that will let you observe surgeries. I know some people that got kind of desensitized to it after spending a lot of time observing.
  4. Bismarck

    Bismarck Cornell c/o 2016 5+ Year Member

    May 27, 2011
    While veterinarians graduate with basic surgical competency (i.e. soft tissue skills mostly), you have the opportunity to pursue other career opportunities that will likely not require much in the way surgery such as public health. Nonetheless, you should sit in on a few surgeries (spays/neuters are good) and let the vet you are shadowing with know you might (or might not) be queasy watching. Better to find out now while you're at the start of the process.
  5. bunnity

    bunnity Penn 2014 5+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    It's not mandatory for vets to perform surgery. Some jobs (for example, most general practice and shelter vets) may require that you do surgery as part of your job description. However, there are many specialties or niches of vet medicine that would not require you to do surgery. I also think it would be harder or easier depending on what you mean by surgery - there is a whole spectrum of procedures (is doing a dental procedure a surgery? suturing a wound? skin biopsy? arthroscopy? all the way up to equine colic surgery or limb amputation). For example, if you were okay doing biopsies you would be fine as a dermatologist, but if you never wanted to cut into any animal ever you might be stuck with something like nutrition.

    You might also be able to work it so that you were a general practice vet and the other vets in your practice did all the surgery and you saw extra clients. Some people would not want to hire you and some people might love that.

    To graduate vet school you will need to do some surgery.

    Feeling grossed out or uncomfortable about surgery at first is NORMAL and many, many people feel that way at first. I almost passed out the first time I watched surgery and I'm totally fine now after getting some more experience. I also think it helps to know why you're doing the surgery and that it is helping the animal. For example, I've spent a lot of time in the shelter field so I know that I am preventing a lot of unnecessary shelter euthanasia if I help with a neuter surgery. Or once you know more about why a foreign body would kill an animal, it might make you feel better about taking it out via surgery.

    Bottom line is, you have tons of time, just try it out and see how it goes for you!
  6. kanderson615

    kanderson615 Oregon State c/o 2016! 2+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2011
    For some reason whenever I see blood in surgery, especially if I haven't seen a surgery in a while, my body decides that it's nap time :rolleyes: I've come close many, many times to fainting, and I actually passed out once in front of a bunch of fourth years and vets when I was pre-vet (so embarrassing!) BUT it's just something you have to get used to.

    For some reason some people (like myself) just react that way. It doesn't make sense - I'm not afraid of blood. In fact, I think surgery is hella cool! If you end up being like me, though, don't worry! Everyone has always been super understanding and very accommodating with me. Over the years I've just gotten used to it where it hardly ever affects me anymore.

    Some tips if you do end up queasy: I've found that my queasiness levels are much worse if I skip breakfast. So, that's a no-no. I would bring granola bars with me when I shadowed so I could get my sugar levels up before watching a surgery (not sure if it actually helped, but I felt like it did). I also found that sitting on a stool during the procedure and asking the doctor as many questions as I could think of really helped me keep my mind off of it, too. If you start feeling hot, clammy, and light-headed just let whoever you're with know you've got to go sit down (cold tile floors feel the best!). It's better than fainting onto the surgery table :laugh: If it persists, you need to make sure you're up front about it, and whoever you're shadowing SHOULD understand.

    But really, it's normal to be nervous. When I was in high school, the whole thing kind of freaked me out, too, but now I'm really excited to learn how to do all of it! Shadowing a vet will definitely help you learn if you're choosing the right profession :thumbup: And if you still want to be a vet but don't want to do surgeries, like others have said, you do have other options. Good luck!
  7. squirrelsrule

    squirrelsrule Ohio State CVM c/o 2016! 5+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    You might be pleasantly surprised at how you handle it. I graduated college at 18 and at that point I had no vet experience but was sure that being a vet wasn't for me because I didn't think I could handle surgery and euthanasia. I was SURE! Well, I got into wildlife rehab (taking in babies only at first) and found that I loved caring for sick little cottontails, squirrels, and opossums and I liked bunnies best because they were the most challenging to successfully raise, especially if they came in emaciated or with pneumonia. I just had that desire to take something that was for some reason unable to fend for itself and get it better and release it back to the wild. Still thought being a vet wasn't for me even though being a rehabber is in my opinion just like being a vet, just without the knowledge or diagnostics. Just didn't think surgery was for me. I was still intrigued by the whole medical aspect of wildlife rehab, though, and took classes and a nurse taught me some basics on suturing at a conference once. I decided to get my category 2 wildlife permit so I could take in all kinds of animals, even injured adults (as much as that scared me, the only alternative for them was death, so I decided to give it a try). Got in a cottontail that got stuck in a fence and the people cut her out and she got torn up! She had a puncture in her back leg so big I could put half my pinkie up in it. When I saw her and the blood and puss and everything else, I just sprang into action and got her fixed up. Didn't get sick to my stomach at all. I have since sutured a baby cottontail that was attacked by a cat, dealt with broken bones (which bones freak me out the worst! Just seeing them and they seem so fragile), and lots of cat attack victims, and I'm fine with it. I worked at an emergency clinic and monitored for several surgeries, including bloat, laceration repairs, and pyos. I haven't had any issues. So, get out there and experience some of the things that make you think you can't be a vet and see if they are really an issue. Oh, and if you don't think you can handle euthanasia, also shadow on some of those, because as sad as they are, it really is one of the pros of vet medicine.
  8. Jamr0ckin

    Jamr0ckin UTK c/o 2016 5+ Year Member

    Mar 21, 2010
    East TN
    I posted in another thread about volunteering about a vet that used to pass out when exposed to surgery when she was a pre vet. She went on to vet school and opened up her own practice.. She does surgery all the time. Surgery is something that isn't natural for most people... Your body and mind will acclimate and soon enough you won't mind surgery, who knows you may even learn to love it!

    Good Luck!

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  9. Trematode

    Trematode 2+ Year Member

    Jul 30, 2011
    East Coast
    I originally wanted to be a vet tech because I did not think I could handle doing surgery. Once I started shadowing at a vet clinic, I changed my mind. I even got some hands-on experience with spay/neuters on a volunteer trip.

    Looking back, I was very naive about veterinary medicine before I started volunteering in a clinic. I certainly would not rule out becoming a vet until you have shadowed/volunteered.
  10. Coquette22

    Coquette22 Welcome to the Madness Silver Donor 7+ Year Member

    Dec 21, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    To use this as a jump off point, I think there can be a difference between passively observing and actively doing. Sometimes blood draws make me feel woozy when I'm just observing them. As it turns out though, I have no problem actually doing them. It's like I'm so focused on what I'm doing that it overrides the ACK! BLOOD! FAINT NOW! response. :laugh: I've done necropsies with no issues at all, but watching one, I had to sit down. It also helps to know your limits while you're still adjusting. Some things that affected me when I first started out observing procedures were: too much time on my feet, not enough fluid intake, not enough to eat. Once I learned to keep up my water intake and make sure I had a granola bar or something between meals, I was much better.
  11. skittles12

    skittles12 UTCVM class of 2014 2+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2010
    I have the same problem sometimes too. Watching a procedure can sometimes make me feel a little queasy, sometimes not. But if I'm the one doing it, there are no problems because I'm so focused on the task at hand.

    Definitely be sure to eat and drink something, and it helps if the room is a comfortable temperature. A couple of our surgery labs were miserable because it was so hot wearing scrubs + gown + mask.
  12. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    I was observing a Horse Castration in the field next to the barn with my Intro to Vet Science, and I heard a thump. Half of my class and I turned around to see one of the girls passed out on a grass. She was lucky we were all standing on grass. She could have severely hurt herself fainting like that on cement or a hard floor. The surgery wasn't that bloody either.
    Just keep in mind if you do know you pass out, warn people...because you could pass out and hurt some part of your body pretty badly if there is no one there to catch you etc.
    Definitely observe some surgeries to see if it will make you pass out.
  13. Tiger369


    May 1, 2012
    I've felt a little queasy before while watching a cat spay. But, I think surgery is just something that everyone needs to get used to. I mean, watching surgeries right in front of you is not a common thing for people to see.
  14. Ninnerfish

    Ninnerfish UIUC CVM 2013!!! 2+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Urbana, IL
    I passed out when I watched my first surgery while shadowing a vet in middle school. It wasn't even a major surgery - he was just removing a skin tumor. I'm now in my fourth year of vet school, have done a couple surgeries of my own, and have watched tons of them with no problem at all. Don't let queasiness stop you from pursuing vet med.

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