It’s okay to change your mind.
Spring classes are in session and I am back in Iowa; two facts that I am, honestly, not too thrilled about - I wanted my winter break to last forever. Typically, I would take 3 weeks off to relax, catch up on Netflix and avoid getting frostbite. This year I decided I wanted to escape the tundra. The day after my last fall final exam I hit 35S and drove to Texas. I am one of those people that draws my energy from the sun and warmth, so this was the best thing I could have done for myself. While I was there, instead of Netflix bingeing, I decided to do a three-week externship in a rural mixed animal clinic.
This was completely out of my realm. I had previously been fairly dead set on being a small animal general practitioner. But, after I continued to learn about large animal medicine and participated in wet labs put together by our amazing clubs such as AABP, AAEP, etc, I realized that I shouldn’t completely discount the idea of being a mixed animal practitioner. I am in the process of scheduling my fourth-year year preceptorships, so I needed to know sooner rather than later if I wanted to continue to pursue small animal focused externships or if I wanted to look more into mixed animal.
Even after having worked in small animal hospitals for years, this was by far one of the best experiences I have had. On the first day, I shadowed the doctor as he performed a couple surgeries, then went outside to attend to a ram that had been attacked by a dog, then back inside for a sick cat exam, then back outside for vaccinations and branding on some heifers... This pace, versatility and variety continued throughout the day and for several days. Within my 3 weeks there, I was able to perform multiple spays and neuters, palpate more cows and bulls than I could count, suture up a dog that had gotten attacked by a hog, help with surgeries including a C-section and scrotal hernia, and so many other amazing hands on opportunities that I would NEVER trade for a Netflix binge. Rural mixed animal vets are often working with clients that have a limited budget compared to those in the city, they also often do not have the same resources that a lot of larger hospitals have. This position requires a level of ingenuity, adaptability and flexibility that is so impressive and stimulating.
I was definitely not expecting to fall in love with rural mixed animal practice as much as I had. So after this experience, I have decided to alter my fourth year rotations to obtain more mixed animal and production animal preceptorships than I had originally anticipated so I can make the most out of my last year and develop the skills that will be essential for me to be an exceptional mixed animal veterinarian wherever I may end up.