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Questions about shadowing

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aspirevet

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Hey there,

I've shadowed vets before but only at one clinic. It was your typical small animal clinic so I mostly saw spays & neuters, a few growth removals, and lots and lots of dentals! But the place I am to shadow at this week is a veterinary surgical center, so they have a lot of orthopedic stuff and whatnot.

Anyway I had emailed them asking if I could shadow, they said yes but didn't have their schedule yet, I followed up and got it scheduled. That was the last time I spoke with them which was over a month ago (they said they put me on the schedule). Basically should I email them again and just be like hey I'm coming tomorrow?

Also the email said students typically shadow from 9 to 5 but it's up to me how long I want to stay. Should I stay that long? Would it not look good if I left early?

And last question like I said I've seen a few smaller surgeries but nothing big. I expect to see bigger surgeries and procedures. How do I prepare from seeing a few spays to a TPLO? Haha I'm a bit nervous if you can't tell...especially because I haven't been to this clinic before. Any tips will help!!
 

Glammyre

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I wouldn't email and say that you're coming tomorrow, but I would email (or maybe call, at this point) and confirm that you're still on the schedule.

You should probably stay the full time. Ask if there's anything you can help with (cage washing, errand running), and watch as much as possible. If there's an errand or other scheduling conflict that forces you to leave early, let the clinic know in advance.

Pretty much, on both counts, defer and be respectful to the clinic as much as possible.

I'm not sure how to answer your last question about seeing different types of surgery. A TPLO will probably be longer than a spay and you might get to see less (surgeon needs to be in a particular position to operate, or may be using a raised table). How did you prepare for the spays, and what do you think will be different about these surgeries?
 
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Doktor Timo

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Definitely stay as long as you can and try to be helpful, but don't forget why you're there. Shadowing means observing what everyday life as a veterinarian is like, so if you end up in the back helping the assistants clean cages then you might as well not do it.

The surgeries themselves will be either very interesting or very boring, depending on whether or not the surgeon feels inclined to show you things and teach you. It wouldn't hurt to read up a little bit on common operations like TPLO so you can at least follow along in a very general sense.
 

sparkle1231

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I've shadowed vets before but only at one clinic. It was your typical small animal clinic so I mostly saw spays & neuters, a few growth removals, and lots and lots of dentals! But the place I am to shadow at this week is a veterinary surgical center, so they have a lot of orthopedic stuff and whatnot.
And last question like I said I've seen a few smaller surgeries but nothing big. I expect to see bigger surgeries and procedures. How do I prepare from seeing a few spays to a TPLO? Haha I'm a bit nervous if you can't tell...especially because I haven't been to this clinic before. Any tips will help!!

To your last question, my first TPLO surgery came to me as a bit of a shock because I didn't know what to expect. Mind you this was in high school and I've only had the experience of watching spays and neuters. I felt spay/neuter surgeries aren't as bloody/rough as orthopedic surgeries. The TPLO and knee replacement was done on a Newfie so this was a huge dog with lots of blood gushing out. orthopedic surgeries also tend to be a bit rough, lots of hammering, screwing, etc. If you feel queasy don't be embarrassed and take a seat. It's better to take it easy than faint and injure yourself. ;)
 
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scott1818

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My first shadowing experience was 60 hours of observing almost exclusively orthopedic surgery (most of which were TPLO's and TCT's). As sparkle mentioned above these are typically much more intense procedures that will take a lot longer and there will certainly be more blood, hammering, screwing, banging and jerking, than a spay or neuter. And yes most definitely sit down or excuse yourself if you feel light headed. If your experience is anything like mine, you will be on your feet mostly just watching for hours and your legs can get quite tired.

I personally thought these procedures were amazing and it was a great first look into veterinary surgery. I was also lucky because the Vet who I was shadowing was really nice and made sure to always explain what was happening and even let me move around the table to get a better view.

Lastly, as people mentioned above, make sure to ask questions and also ask if you can help with anything. I went from cleaning floors and cages, to assisting with animal surgery prep and recovery, which was cool considering it was my first veterinary experience.
 

that redhead

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I would stay the entire time. It shows that you're interested and engaged in what's going on. If they delegate you to cage cleaning, I would discuss with your point of contact there before bailing but don't feel obligated to stay if you aren't getting any actual shadowing in.

I would ask the surgeon if they mind if you ask questions during the procedure. I've only been out a year and I find it really distracting when techs are talking to me the entire time, even when I'm closing. I don't mean to be rude but I'm often not nearly my normal talkative/receptive self while trying to focus on surgery. If they're okay with it, remember you aren't limited to questions about the surgery - ask what drew them to the field/the specialization, their favorite or most rewarding procedure, any general advice, etc.

Good luck :luck:
 
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aspirevet

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Thanks for the help everyone! Here's an update on my first day--- it was amazing! I'm used to shadowing at your typical small animal clinic. The one I shadowed at previously seemed to have quite a lot of slower days and way less chances to see surgeries (and if they were surgeries they were very quick and simple).

Today I saw 6 surgeries!!!! I was in the OR practically all day and I loved it. First I saw a pyometra, then got a quick glimpse at the end of a TPLO, a few other procedures including wound care And a bone biopsy... Then a surgery cutting off part of the ulna then adding a fat graft ((I totally forgot the name of this surgery...anyone know??)) and lastly finished with a bladder stone.

And my favorite surgery was when the doctor removed 3 hemostats that were left in a dog from a previous surgery 3 years ago!

I knew I liked surgery but never thought I'd like it this much! It was like surgery heaven...and apparently it was a SLOW day!
 
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missdarjeeling

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Glad you enjoyed it! :)

And my favorite surgery was when the doctor removed 3 hemostats that were left in a dog from a previous surgery 3 years ago!

:eek:

...

(The former surgery assistant in me is wondering how in the ever-loving youknowwhat you lose track of THREE hemostats?)
 
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aspirevet

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Glad you enjoyed it! :)



:eek:

...

(The former surgery assistant in me is wondering how in the ever-loving youknowwhat you lose track of THREE hemostats?)
I honestly have no idea...someone fell asleep during surgery maybe?
 

LetItSnow

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    Definitely stay as long as you can and try to be helpful, but don't forget why you're there. Shadowing means observing what everyday life as a veterinarian is like, so if you end up in the back helping the assistants clean cages then you might as well not do it.

    Eh. I don't really agree with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shadowing/observing all day and then in the last hour or two asking "Hey, can I help you guys get things cleaned up here at the end of the day?" I agree that the point of shadowing isn't to spend the entire day helping clean cages - doesn't really accomplish the purpose - but I think at least offering to make yourself useful is a really good character trait. Chances are they'll say no, since you don't have a clue how they want things cleaned, or in what order, or ... etc. But offering is a good thing.
     
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    LetItSnow

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    (The former surgery assistant in me is wondering how in the ever-loving youknowwhat you lose track of THREE hemostats?)

    I was joking about them being mine. I haven't (yet) lost anything in a patient. But, I can easily see it happening. REALLY easily.

    Should you do a sponge count? Sure. Does it happen 100% of the time in every clinic? Nope. So those are easy enough to lose given enough surgical procedures.

    Should you know how many instruments are in a pack? Sure. But packs aren't 100% consistent - that one instrument breaks, and someone forgets to replace it. Or some other vet says "Hey, I prefer to have two of those" and nobody else knows there are actually two in there, then you leave one behind and the count seems normal. Or - and this is pretty common in my line of work - you get halfway through a procedure and realize "well, crap, I need that specialized doohickey which is only in the eye pack" or "damn, I've run out of things to clamp off this, that, and the other thing - someone open another general pack" ... and now you've got allllll sorts of packs and instruments scattered around and it's easy to lose track. Or I'm doing surgery with another doctor and I think she pulled out that one hemostat and she thinks I pulled it out. I mean, I've had a few emergency surgeries with pretty much every pack in the hospital open. It can get easy to lose count of things.

    And most places have individual packs, or packs with just a few of one item. So you open that bag with a few extra hemostats, but then the person who opened it for you is sub'd out and the next tech in doesn't know it and ...... etc.

    Bottom line is some surgeries are **** shows, and it's pretty easy to see how out of however many surgeries are done every year in the U.S., somewhere, some time, some instruments get left behind. It's only when you try and think about it from the perspective of one single individual surgery with appropriate procedure that it makes it hard to understand how it could happen.
     
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    missdarjeeling

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    I was joking about them being mine. I haven't (yet) lost anything in a patient. But, I can easily see it happening. REALLY easily.

    I was mostly being playfully dramatic. Definitely can understand how easily it could happen. At my current clinic, hardly anyone does a sponge count (way back when, the assistant training me looked at me like I had 3 heads when I asked about it), and the list for the instrument packs is horrendously out of date. No one really keeps track of what's missing. Things vanish, and lord knows where they go.

    At my old job, though, they did a sponge count literally every time, and more than once, they wheeled a patient into X-ray because the count was off. The surgeons would've had our heads on a platter if we lost an instrument. More than once, we had to go outside into the dumpster to rummage through a dozen bags of hospital trash in search of the surgery ones so we could hopefully find what it was we were looking for. And we saved the autoclave tape (stuck it to the OR walls) to keep track of what was opened, who had packed it, and which autoclave/load it was sterilized in. Our coordinator was pretty on the ball with documenting what went out for repairs or sharpening. Plus they beat us with sticks and made us walk barefoot uphill 15 miles in the lake effect snow on a good day, so you can imagine what happened when we dared to make a single mistake.
     
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    aspirevet

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    Eh. I don't really agree with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shadowing/observing all day and then in the last hour or two asking "Hey, can I help you guys get things cleaned up here at the end of the day?" I agree that the point of shadowing isn't to spend the entire day helping clean cages - doesn't really accomplish the purpose - but I think at least offering to make yourself useful is a really good character trait. Chances are they'll say no, since you don't have a clue how they want things cleaned, or in what order, or ... etc. But offering is a good thing.

    I've been trying to stay the whole time. The first day I only left about 15 min early because everything was done while the next day I actually ended up staying a bit late. But today I left 2 hours early because the last surgery got canceled. I asked if I could help with anything but they said there wasn't really much I could help with so yeah I left early
     

    Doktor Timo

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    Eh. I don't really agree with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shadowing/observing all day and then in the last hour or two asking "Hey, can I help you guys get things cleaned up here at the end of the day?" I agree that the point of shadowing isn't to spend the entire day helping clean cages - doesn't really accomplish the purpose - but I think at least offering to make yourself useful is a really good character trait. Chances are they'll say no, since you don't have a clue how they want things cleaned, or in what order, or ... etc. But offering is a good thing.

    Yeah absolutely, I agree. I was trying to say that it shouldn't be how they spend most of their time there. But there's definitely nothing wrong with being helpful within reason.
     
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