Tips for Pets
Internship at CVS Includes Zoo Medicine Elective
Mon, February 11th, 2013

From the California Veterinary Medical Association's magazine "California Veterinarian", we are proud of Dr. Lin as she writes about her first year as a veterinarian.


My Internship Begins

By Kelly Lin, DVM.

One of the best parts of my internship year at California Veterinary Specialists is being able to immerse myself in a different learning experience every few weeks while rotating from specialty to specialty. While the long hours and steep learning curve have certainly increased my daily coffee intake, I still feel incredibly fortunate every day to have the opportunity to learn from a diverse and knowledgeable group of talented specialists, ER clinicians, and technicians. Although I am continually astounded by the breadth and depth of information that each of my mentors applies in their daily practice, I am most impressed by the degree of interdepartmental cooperation exhibited by the staff, which exponentially increases the expertise available to each patient. This cohesiveness is especially important considering we are not only shuttling between different departments, but also between two hospitals with exceptionally different clientele and conventions. Despite these differences, I appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their thoughts, simplify their techniques, and encourage us to seek other resources when needed. The focus has been on synthesizing a logical thought process to work through cases in a manner which realistically meets the needs of the patient, client, and situation.


Cultivating a clinician’s perspective has been enormously helpful when working with less familiar species during my elective weeks at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I’ve always been interested in exotic animal medicine and was ecstatic to spend ten days shadowing this talented team to learn more about herd health, field medicine, and the challenges of working with wild animals in a captive setting. In the first few days I saw several field knock-out procedures and learned the challenges of not only finding the right cocktail of anesthetics, but also the difficulty in determining the appropriate charge to hit a moving target in a large field (with the additional complications of rough terrain, bodies of water, aggressive conspecifics, iatrogenic trauma, capture myopathy, regurgitation, renarcotization, and cardiovascular compromise). Not to mention the dangers of working with unpredictable, untamed, large animals under the influence of drugs. Never have I believed in the power of carfentanil as much as when I was retrieving a fresh fecal sample from a rhino’s rectum while his tail twitched precariously around my legs. While each species is different, it is remarkable how much is extrapolated from large and small animal medicine. For instance, the same techniques used for blocked cats proved helpful when placing a urinary catheter in a neonatal rhino, despite the anatomical variations.


Despite the many challenges inherent in practicing zoo medicine, the fantastic staff at the Harter Veterinary Hospital continues to support a healthy zoo population with close cooperation and communication between keepers, nutritionists, researchers, pathologists, and outside specialists. In addition to being incredibly enjoyable and educational, my elective experience helped remind me how fortunate I am to enter a career that affords such diverse opportunities to make a difference in animal health and welfare.


Source: California Veterinary Medical Association

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