clinical and blue

At the beginning of our first year, after orientation but before classes began, the school put on a “white coat ceremony”. It was rather formal; parents, friends, etc. were invited, and we were called up one-by-one to have a faculty member or practicing veterinarian help us put our first white coats on. It was to symbolize our official entry into the school, and indeed, the career. [Also the white coat is not merely symbolic. In the first and second years it’s worn all labs, including anatomy and path, and so by the end it’s more of a brownish-with-splashes-of-blood-and-smelling-like-formaldehyde-and-cow coat.]

Today, two years later, we had our “blue coat ceremony”. All fourth year students wear a colored “smock”, which readily identifies them as VM4s around the hospital. The class votes on a color, and mine cleverly chose royal blue (affectionally referred to as “blueberry” because it is BRIGHT). So it’s kind of like they give us a white coat, and then take it away…and then I guess once we graduate we can wear whatever damn coat we want to. Anyway. ANYWAY.

The blue coat is for clinics, and while we don’t start that until May, we do sort of start with an “Intro to Clinics” course this semester (I won’t until the 2nd half of the semester). So tonight, we had the blue coat ceremony.

Except. It really wasn’t all that ceremonial. No one but us and clinicians were there. At some point someone said something to the effect of “everyone put on your smocks!” and that was the most ceremonial it got.  We were divided into groups and in those groups walked around a not-very-big room and listed to what each of the 18 different clinical rotations are all about.  It’s is necessary and was valuable, and they did have a nice selection of food, but when I heard “ceremony” I thought “cute heels!” and so by the end of the 2.5 hours of standing around my feet were KILLING me. Wah.

However, one thing said really did perk up my little heart. Not only is the blue coat ceremony a ruse to distribute the damn coats and get us to listen to our future clinicians, but it does signal the end of our “basic sciences” education, and the beginning of our clinical education. That’s right people, I’m actually starting to learn how to treat a damn animal. Doesn’t Surgery (doing REAL surgery, not just learning about surgery), Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, Dermatology, Equine Medicine and Reproduction sound infinitely more interesting and applicable than Virology, Parasitology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, etc.??? If it doesn’t sound that way to you, I understand, but it’s likely that you aren’t a vet student…because really, it’s freaking fantastic.


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