Counting Shades of Gray [Clinics Series]

Never get involved in a land war in Asia, and don’t take radiology for your last rotation of vet school.  The sun will be shining outside, your classmates will post pictures of adorable spring-born babies, and you will be sitting in a dim room on your 100th hour of trying to decide if that small patch of gray that’s slightly darker than the adjacent bit of gray is one of the 50 shades of normal or if the patient is going to die.

Of course, I’m being dramatic. While radiology wasn’t my favorite rotation, and it was particularly challenging to be shut in the dark for two weeks after frolicking in the sunshine the block prior, I cannot deny that I’m better at reading radiographs now than I was two weeks ago. The radiology rotation is set up so you spend most of every day for two weeks studying for and taking various quizzes and exams.  There are also a few other responsibilities such as preparing for topic rounds (which involves interpreting radiographs from past cases) and taking radiographs.  The taking radiographs part is a much smaller part of the rotation than you might think.  Students are responsible for taking four radiographs each over the two-week rotation as a test of clinical competency, and our assistance is also required if the service is particularly busy and the technicians need help, but for my rotation that only happened approximately 1-2 times per day.

I was lucky to be on the rotation with really great classmates.  We were largely all in the same mindset, which was approximately, “Would they really fail me now when I’ve made it this close to graduation?”  Nevertheless, they are all very professional individuals, so we still did our best, helped out when needed, and tried to keep our griping to a minimum (sort of).  For me, my motivation was at least partially buoyed by my experience on my externship in Connecticut two blocks ago.  Since lives may depend on my radiographic interpretation in just a few short weeks, I definitely wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to hone my skills while the stakes were still low.

To all the pet owners out there who may some day bring their baby to see me, know that I’m working hard to be the best veterinarian I can be.  Know that your relationship with your pet is a force so powerful that I’ve dedicated the past four years learning how to protect it. Thank you for following along on this journey.

Now on to graduation!

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.

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