This past July 2019 I travelled to Washington, DC, USA for a small animal specialty surgery externship at Friendship Animal Hospital as well as to attend the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention. I have limited exposure to cerain procedures in small animal medicine, therefore this was a valuable opportunity to experience specialists work up close. I was worried that I may be unfamiliar with certain verbage and ways of doing things in the US compared to what we are taught here in Edinburgh. I told myself to ask questions however on anything I was unclear on. I think this became an advantage as it initiated many conversations with the surgeons and interns, which in turn helped me to form stronger relationships with them, even in a short time. For example, this allowed me to scrub into an ophthalmology procure I would have not otherwise been a part of. I observed many orthopedic procedures, including a method of patella luxation repair only reported in practice a handful of times anywhere. I also learned more about the path to becoming a specialist and received advice from senior surgeons on this. I was part of an emergency code situation as well as a respiratory crisis where I assisted to stabilize the patient.
After a week at the hospital, the next day was the beginning of the Student AVMA House of Delegate meetings. I’m privileged to be the Sr. Delegate representing our vet school at this annual event. This gives a voice and voting power to any members of our student body who are SAVMA members. My goal was tobe a voice for the students which are often under-represented as they are located internationally, though have the same rights issues to tackle.
Over two days we discussed, debated and voted on various issues effecting the veterinary profession (students included). These included tuition fee transparency advocation, student loan re-payment assistance programs and well-being promotion for members of the veterinary community worldwide. Another topic discussed at length was how to promote and support efforts limiting climate change, while maintaining a stance for the large branch of vet medicine involved with food production animals. It was an eye experience, being in DC where all of these issues actually get some legs in policy. I met vet students from all over the country as well as many practices which are focusing on young graduate recruitment; thus I established some network contacts for future career opportunities.