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First Year Veterinarian - My Internship Begins
October 08, 2012

From the California Veterinary Medical Association's magazine "California Veterinarian", we are proud of Dr. Lin as she writes about her first year as a veterinarian.


My Internship Begins

By Kelly Lin, DVM.

One month into my internship at California Veterinary Specialists and I still feel like a bit of an imposter walking into a room and introducing myself as the veterinarian. While I may look like I just graduated from high school, the clients seem to find confidence in my stethoscope, name tag, and white coat and hand their pets over without a second glance. Luckily, I have the combined experience of a great group of technicians, receptionists, and staff doctors to rely on as I’ve worked through difficult cases and critical emergencies.


It’s been quite a month-long whirlwind of graduating, moving, and starting fresh at two new hospitals and getting to know a whole new group of fellow interns and staff. I’m thrilled to say I’ve survived so far and am learning so much; the long hours and challenging cases seem a small price to pay in exchange for a great learning environment and a supportive staff. Working with the specialists has given me insight into the intricacies of surgery, radiology, cardiology, and internal medicine as well as shown me how cooperation between multiple services is often required to help completely work up a case. Although emergency medicine is an unfamiliar and terrifying new territory for me, I’ve been fortunate enough to always have an experienced staff veterinarian working with me during my shifts to help me narrow down differentials, prioritize diagnostics, and synthesize practical treatment plans. From enucleation to wound repair, I’ve started looking forward to doing surgeries in the dead of the night. When the stat call comes over the intercom, I no longer cringe in fear at the impending disaster that will shortly come through the doors and instead start focusing on triaging the patient as a team.


It’s been heartbreaking to see the heatstroke and poisoning cases that come in too late or talk to the devastated owners who just want the best for their pets but didn’t have the resources or knowledge to prevent a tragedy. On the other hand, knowing your diagnostics and treatments helped reunite critical pets with their families is an unparalleled feeling that I’ve learned to crave. One particularly rewarding case was a man who walked in the door with $100 and a puppy that was bleeding internally from rodenticide toxicity. After his credit was denied, I informed him that the hospital would pay for treatment if he filled out a promissory note. However, halfway through the paperwork, the receptionist came back saying that he no longer wanted to treat his dog. Struggling with a language barrier and feeling the pressures of four other patients waiting for my care, I realized that he had mistakenly assumed we required him to miss the first day of his job in order to pick up his dog. The importance of clear communication for critical cases was really driven home to me that night, and we luckily treated the dog and sent him home early the next morning. As a stoic man who spoke few words, I was extremely touched when the owner tearfully thanked me for saving his dog with a warm hand shake and a big hug. While the credit really goes to the hospital staff, this case really inspired me to practice the best medicine I can to help pets and people like him. It has been a steep learning curve, but so far I’m enjoying the challenges and small successes along the way.


Source: California Veterinary Medical Association

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