I used to entertain the thought of being a mixed-animal vet. Not because it’s something I’m all that interested in, but because it would be a useful thing to be: there’s a severe shortage of large animal vets in the country, and it’d be good to be useful. Right? Right.
But the fact is, that it is an almost completely different job from being a small animal vet. There is an oceans difference between working with someone’s pet/family member and working with someone’s, well, work. And yeah, blah blah blah, there are grey areas, pet goats and horses, etc., and sure to some extent medicine is medicine, but just bear with me, please. Theoretically I’ve always understood that, but it’s really taken this rotation to drive the point home.
There has been a lot to really enjoy about this rotation: primarily the people. I love the large animal vets, and generally I like talking to the farmers who either bring their animals to us or invite us to come out to them. I love the gentle souls of our professors, who know how to manipulate the 1500lbs animals to do what we need them to do without causing undue stress or pain, and who can make a diagnosis over the phone but still pretend to give us the credit for it, after an hours-long discussion.
All the same, this is the first rotation that I really haven’t enjoyed. On all previous rotations, I have tried to stop just short of being obnoxious to jump on any opportunity I get: I’ll take any case, do any task, etc., etc. It’s a learning opportunity, it’s usually fun and interesting, and if nothing else, it passes the time faster. And it’s hard to explain, but with cows…I’m just not that into them. 90% of our “exam” time is spent just trying to get them in the stantions, or on the table, etc. It’s like every cow is a big huge, poorly behaved dog that you have to wrestle with to get anything accomplished.
With small animals, our concern is for the pet and the owner, of course: you can’t push a $4000 surgery on a poor owner. But all the same, desicions are always made with love. With food animals, decisions can’t be made of love, or else farmers would lose their livelihood. You can’t always do what’s in the best interest of the cow; often that option is actually fairly laughable. So sure the decisions are still made with compassion, but fundamentally they are business-driven, out of necessity. And that is just not of interest to me.
It’d be like if you really didn’t like football, didn’t know the rules, etc., but were forced to go to football camp. It’s not like football will have a huge impact on the rest of your life, and sure it’d be a good thing to learn but really…is it necessary? I don’t mind it SO much, really, but certainly, I’ll be glad when it’s over.
At the same time I can appreciate some of the insane experiences I’ve had, and will be sharing more of them soon!
Eh. I feel like a slacker with all these confessions, but I can’t love everything.