Rant subject: The favorite saying of a medical director at a place where I did an externship had a favorite saying, which I heard at least three times as he made the case for doing an internship after one graduates. That statement was: “Vet school simply does not prepare you to become a clinician.”
Exhibit A: At the same hospital, I watched as an intern, who had graduated that May from a vet school that I am not going to, did her very first dog neuter (IN LATE SUMMER…AFTER SHE GRADUATED FROM VET SCHOOL). I double-checked with another student who goes to that school, and sure enough: students were allowed to graduate with no surgical experience other than two dog spays. No cats, no neuters, and certainly no advanced surgery. [Students at this school can do extra surgeries if they go out of their way to.]
Exhibit B: I (and I’m pretty representative of my classmates) have done two major intra-abdominal surgeries (including gastropexy, gastrotomy, splenectomy, nephrectomy, liver and renal biopsies, gastropexies and resection and anastomosis), spayed a dog and neutered both a dog and cat, in addition to spaying four additional cats during feral cat clinics.
Exhibit Ba: A classmate who just came back from an externship with a shelter (I’m doing the same thing in March) completed 56 spays and neuters during her two weeks there. FIFTY-SIX!!!
Exhibit C: On most of my small animal rotations, the students job is to take a complete history from the owner, perform a complete physical exam, formulate a plan, interpret diagnostics, adjust plans, prescribe medications, etc. OF COURSE there are clinicians there who back us up, correct us and guide us, but the responsibility is real, the expectations are real, and we do, OF COURSE, learn an absolute shitload.
So why, then, will I be SO unprepared to be a good clinician when I graduate? What better preparation is there, than three years of very directed education followed by a year working with people who’s job is to make you a good clinician? Is it the fault of some schools, who maybe have more of an academic focus and not enough of a practical/clinical one?
And is there not something in the MD’s line about not being prepared that smacks of scare-tactic? Wouldn’t it be more encouraging and more accurate to say “do an internship if you want to be an excellent clinician, right off the bat? do an internship if you want more training, and want to better yourself in that way”?
I’m still on the fence about doing an internship, and leaning more and more away from it. As the disparities between veterinary education and experience show, everything is exactly what you make of it. So if, for lifestyle reasons, I don’t feel like an internship would be right for me, I’m still not going to doubt my abilities to excel as a new vet.