• Kristi

Externship (Part 2)

Updated: Mar 15, 2020


If you read my last rotation post about the first 3 weeks of my 6-week externship, I spent it in the suburbs of Chicago at general practices. Following these 3 weeks, I packed my bags and headed back home to Indianapolis to work at IndyHumane (Humane Society of Indianapolis). IndyHumane was originally founded in 1905 by 9 individuals who wanted to make a difference for those who were suffering. This included not just abused or neglected animals, but also women and children. Since then IndyHumane has evolved into a wonderful facility that takes in, cares for, and saves dogs and cats of Indianapolis. When I was in high school, I had volunteered at the facility where I cleaned kennels and walked dogs. It was awesome to come back and be able to provide veterinary care and help these animals in a different way. This externship was one that I had to apply for through my school due to the high demand and popularity it has gained for providing a high volume of surgical experience (mostly spays and neuters) and great mentorship. I was ecstatic when I found out I was accepted for this rotation. For those of you who aren’t Purdue students but interested in this opportunity, don’t fret! IndyHumane does take other veterinary students as long as they have availability open!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I went through a period where I thought I never wanted to do surgery again. I had completed my surgical courses at school, but it left me feeling discouraged and unmotivated to pursue any further surgical experience. I had great mentors at school, but I was under so much stress and fear that I let it get the best of me and determine what I thought I was interested in. So let this be a lesson, don’t make your mind up on something while you’re in vet school LOL. Then during my externship, my mentor, Dr. Conroy, got me all hyped up over surgery again. Let’s just say I’m glad I had this experience with him right before this shelter medicine rotation because I was terrified of doing surgery and was low key very nervous to be doing so many surgeries on my own. I had friends that completed this rotation before me and reassured me that I’d absolutely love it, and let me tell you, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. I can confidently say that this has been one of my favorite rotations so far. So, I am extremely happy to break down what this externship looked like for me for the three weeks I got to work with the amazing team at IndyHumane!

Monday, Friday (PM)

The mornings were spent completing “Vet to Do’s”. These are tasks that need to be completed so an animal can be one step closer to being adopted. Often this meant rechecking any surgical sites, doing physical exams, vaccinations, examining sick animals, etc. I really enjoyed this because it gave me the opportunity to thoroughly practice my physical exam skills and general medicine. Physical exams are always something I didn’t feel like we got to practice enough during the first three years of vet school, so I was happy to do so with all the shelter animals. In the afternoons I helped run the community vaccine clinic. The clinic is open 2-3 days a week and allows pet owners to come get their dogs or cats vaccinations. This clinic does not function as a general practice so anything aside from vaccinations would have to be seen by GPs. The vaccine clinic allowed me to refresh my cluttered brain on different vaccine protocols and schedules.


MY DAY OFF! Yes, I got a day off on this rotation and it was awesome. I got the choice to work 5 days a week from 9am-5pm or 4 days a week working 8am-7pm. I took the latter option so I could utilize my days off to study for the NAVLE!

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (AM)

These days were full blown surgeries day. From the moment I walked in at 8am up until 7pm, I was doing surgeries. At first, I was terrified thinking about doing surgeries by myself without someone scrubbed in and assisting me. I voiced my concerns to the veterinarians, and they were 100% receptive and wonderful when it came to my nervousness. They had sent us surgical videos prior to the start of the rotation to review which was helpful to refresh my memory since I hadn’t done surgeries since third year (and 1 on my externship). I decided to watch one spay and neuter before I did it on my own. Then I had the veterinarian scrub in with me on my first spay just in case something went wrong. Of course, nothing went wrong and it was just my nerves that were making me doubt myself and then I felt more comfortable on my own. The surgery suite at the humane society has 2 surgical tables so even if you’re scrubbed in alone, the veterinarian is at the other table 3 feet away from you, so you’re never alone if you feel like you need help. I loved that the veterinarians I worked with were encouraging, understanding, and challenged me. There were times where I was unsure about something and instead of swooping in and doing it for me, they talked me through it and had me figure it out myself. I’m someone who doesn’t really panic externally but when I feel something goes wrong, I’m internally cussing up a storm and screaming LOL. I know that if I really felt unsure or uncomfortable, they’d scrub in with me in a heartbeat, but I never felt that way and they always had so much confidence in me which was reassuring.

I loved starting my days walking into the facility and seeing so many animals that I knew I’d be able to help that day. I went into this rotation thinking I’d neuter a lot of animals and spay a handful but as I got more confident, I asked for more challenging procedures to assist in and perform. For example, I basically became a surgery junkie by the end of the first week and wanted to do more. So I got to assist in one amputation and by the end of the 3 weeks I had done 2 on my own. In total, I had done 115 surgeries by the end of this rotation. I did 47 canine surgeries which consisted of 20 spays, 27 neuters (1 abdominal cryptorchid), 1 tail amputation, and 1 hind limb amputation. I did 68 cat surgeries which included 22 spays, 46 neuters (1 abdominal cryptorchid), 2 hind limb leg amputations, and 3 hernia repairs.

So, as you can see, I went from being fearful of surgery to damn near wondering if I was meant to specialize in surgery…JK. You get my point though; I LOVED this rotation. It allowed me to get so much surgical experience, become comfortable with my skills, and learn more about the world of shelter medicine. For any of you vet students looking to do a shelter medicine rotation, I absolutely recommend it. Thank you to the entire team at IndyHumane!

I hope you guys enjoyed my recap about Indyhumane. Feel free to check out their website! Please drop any questions below in the comment box!

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