April 24, 2014

PARANDEKAR | Taking the Reins

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Five weeks ago I started the clinical part of the veterinary curriculum, where we go through two week rotations in the different departments of the hospital. It’s known for being an intense experience — in the last few weeks I’ve rediscovered the importance of sleeping, eating and peeing. I’ve been avoiding writing about what being on clinics is like so far because I feel like I need to go through more than a couple of rotations before I can form concise opinions. I still feel that way, but since this is my last column for the school year I’m going to spend a little time describing how the clinical program works and paying a little homage to the fourth years who will be leaving soon.

Cornell currently runs its clinical program a little differently than most of the other vet schools. We start clinics sometime in the winter or spring of our third year, go through the summer, fall and winter, and then, depending on when we started, end clinics sometime in the spring semester of our fourth year. The times when we are not on clinics we’re in elective classes. This means that during the spring semester, there is a mix of third and fourth years on the clinic floor.

As a third year new to clinics, I’ve found that having the fourth years around has made everything about the process of transitioning from the classroom to the hospital significantly easier. They’ve been more than happy to help us with everything from figuring out how to work the computer system in the hospital to showing us where to find things to giving tips on how to be more efficient to helping us with our patients, even when they could have gone home. Maybe I’ve been more than lucky with the specific fourth years who have been on my rotations, but I could add to this list for paragraphs, and it really wasn’t something that I was expecting going into clinics.

In most other schools, veterinary students start clinics all at the same time and mostly only through their fourth year. I’ve heard rumblings that Cornell is thinking about also transitioning to this type of system because the doctors find it hard to teach students with different levels of experience. I can understand this point of view, but I have to wonder if the doctors and technicians would find it even more difficult when we had to direct our procedural questions to them, had no one around to help us learn the ropes and, most importantly, did not have role models around to teach us about how to approach our time in clinics.

Specifically, in just two rotations, thanks to the generosity of the fourth years, I feel like the word teamwork has taken on a whole new meaning to me, even though teamwork is emphasized throughout the veterinary curriculum. Maybe I’m a little jaded, but having a relative stranger take valuable time to help a rotation-mate when there is little to no benefit to him or her is an amazing phenomenon to me.  I feel like I can’t thank them enough — both for the help and for the inspiration to “pay it forward” next year. So I think it’s fitting to dedicate this last column to the fourth years who will be graduating in May with the rest of the class of 2014. As for me — we work through the summer, so expect exciting stories when The Sun starts again in the Fall!