On the 14th August 2016, I flew 8 hours and 50 minutes to Barbados in order to spend two weeks at a small animal veterinary clinic. I chose to go abroad to expand my knowledge of veterinary pathology and treatments outside of the UK.
Prior to my placement, I had my usual concerns regarding making a good impression and representing the university to the best of my abilities. However, as this was my first clinical placement since starting my university degree and having already completed 2 years of study, I feared that the placement providers would expect me to be further in my clinical studies and therefore more proficient in clinical practice than I am.
In addition, from completing my risk assessment forms, I was also concerned about the risk of disease in Barbados- this is mostly from mosquitoes carrying the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Finally, as the diseases I would encounter in the patients are much less common in the UK due to a more proficient vaccination schemes, I worried that my knowledge of procedure and treatment for these cases would be limited.
Throughout my placement I learnt a number of valuable clinical skills, for instance, I practiced how to correctly apply a bandage and a splint after a cat fractured its 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones falling off a balcony. The splint is used to correctly align the bones, so that they will heal in the correct position and therefore the cat can make a full recovery.
I also learnt one method of castration, used for kittens, which simply involves tying the blood supply and the spermatic cord in a series of knots. During this procedure, I also learnt that cats are unable to be intubated without paralyzing the larynx first, the vet used lidocaine in order to do this.
Another interesting skill I acquired on this placement was how to intubate animals- using the tube you press down the epiglottis, and look for the larynx, once you’ve found the larynx you may pass the tube down and into the trachea.
While in Barbados, I also learnt how to do a dental and by the end of the two weeks, all the dentals that came through the hospital (except those with extractions) were mine to do!
I had an absolutely fantastic time in Barbados and learnt so many valuable skills, which I will continue to use throughout my veterinary career. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to go abroad and for the funding the university gave me to do so.