The day I learned the word ‘theriogenology,’ I remember sitting on my bed, poring over the vet school’s departmental webpage, and then did what many young professionals would do in such a situation: I called my mom.
“There’s a word for what I want to do,” I told her, excitedly. She shared in my enthusiasm and diligently practiced pronouncing the word, equipping herself with the ability to tell her friends about the most recent development in her daughter’s career aspirations.
That day was approximately five years ago, and now, as I stand just shy of vet school graduation, my excitement for theriogenology (the branch of veterinary medicine which involves reproduction) has only grown stronger. My very first semester of vet school, I signed up for the theriogenology elective that’s mostly designed for residents. I was the only vet student. This, combined with the fact that I served as Therio Club president for two years, enabled me to get to know the theriogenology faculty, all of whom I adore. Therefore, it probably won’t surprise you that spending three weeks focused on my favorite subject, surrounded by my favorite people, set me up to absolutely love this rotation.
At NC State, the theriogenology service mostly sees dogs and horses, but they MOSTLY see horses. The challenge of the rotation is that it occurs in so many places. Canine patients come to the school in Raleigh, and some horses do as well, usually when they require the most intensive monitoring. The service is also responsible for breeding management of the undergraduate teaching herd, which is about 5 minutes down the road, and there’s also a satellite facility approximately an hour’s drive away where the majority of equine patients are seen and the recipient mare herd is housed. In summary, we spent a lot of time on the road between point A and point B.
We made the most of it. Lots of days we napped. We tried to have productive conversations about reproductive medicine, but it’s really challenging to do so in a noisy van. The last week or so, I was working on a video for the vet school talent show, so I packed my laptop and did a lot of video editing. This ended up being critical because one of the students on the rotation helped tremendously with content for the video. The final product is here if you want to check it out!
Fortunately, we experienced a pretty broad diversity of cases during our three week rotation. In addition to lots and lots of breeding management, both equine and canine, we also got to experience both a canine c-section and an equine dystocia, as well as a few other miscellaneous oddities along the way.
One of the ways in which this rotation was very different from others was that I actually knew things. This put me in a unique and wonderful position in which I got to play teacher, since the other students on the block would ask me questions almost as often as they asked questions of the clinicians. Other fringe benefits of the rotation included spending time outside during some absolutely gorgeous spring weather and getting to snuggle horses daily (which hasn’t happened since equine medicine this past fall).
I didn’t want to leave. But alas, the advantage and disadvantage of the persistent march of clinics is that you never spend very long doing any one thing in particular. I am so thankful for my time on theriogenology, and I am particularly thankful that I got to take the rotation during a three-week block instead of a two-week block. My experience on this rotation makes me all the more excited to get out there and start practicing medicine for real, but first I have to complete my final rotation of vet school: the dreaded radiology.
This post is part of a series documenting my clinical year in veterinary school. To read more from the series, please visit the Clinic Series homepage.