Wow, Oncology. Where do I begin? Well, a classmate texted me halfway into the rotation and asked if doing this rotation was worth her time. Absolutely, there was no hesitation! I learned so much during these past three weeks that it is so impressive to look back on everything I witnessed. Every day, I noticed that I was visually intrigued by almost every patient that came in for treatment. Cases ranged from osteosarcoma amputated dogs to cats with injection site sarcomas, oral tumors, and anything else that involved some sort of mass observed externally or internally. I will gladly share my pros and cons with this rotation and share some weaknesses that I greatly improved on during the course of the 3 weeks.
If you need more time with learning to communicate and empathize with owners, this is the rotation you need to sign up for. On many occasions, you will have the opportunity to practice consoling with distraught owners who may have just heard sad news or will have to unfortunately euthanize their pet. It is one of the hardest things seeing an owner looking shocked or devastated and then try to find the right words to comfort them while also explaining the process of how a particular cancer works.
The resident veterinarians I worked with were fantastic teachers. From doing topic rounds, one-on-one discussions, and even being with them in an exam room with the clients, you can tell that they have a passion for this particularly field of medicine. I also appreciated how the veterinarians structure their written discharges. The diagnosis for the animal is the first information you read in the beginning of each discharge. Rather than searching through the entire discharge to figure out what the patient has, this format saves so much time.
My favorite rounds were the jeopardy games each Friday where we were quizzed on various cancer facts that we learned thus far. It was a great review for me. Our group name was called “Magnificent Malignancies” while the other team was “Dirty Margins”. We had fun 🙂
Midway through the rotation, each student had a sort of “midpoint- feedback discussion” with one of the residence who was the leader for our block. Let me tell you how rewarding and encouraging that talk was for me. One of the areas I really need to work on is my confidence. She did say though that my strong points were having a gentle spirit, a deep love and care for each patient, and good communication skills with clients. Those words truly warmed my heart because I really do care about these precious animals, and I want to make sure that each owner can trust that I will take good care of them. I was then asked if there was anything the oncology service could improve on, and I felt compelled to be honest and share what was on my heart. In the initial stages of this rotation, I occasionally felt disconnected with the veterinarians. As time progressed, I noticed that the veterinarians took more time to inform the students of what was going to happen next with their patient. They also gave more feedback on whether or not our plans for our patient will be beneficial or not. It just felt more like a collaborative effort instead of just shadowing a case.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself, and I highly recommend taking this rotation!
Here’s what other people had to say about it!
(What was Orientation Day like?)
-Not stressful, performed PE. Signed up for 1 case today, will have 2 tomorrow. Its easy to hop on other cases so you can learn about all of the cancer types. You are on call on the days you sign up for, but wont usually have to come in at night. If there is a transfer patient you have to be there at 7:30 to be a part of transfering rounds and treat the patient before your regular shift starts. Bring a note book to write down things about your patient and to do lists. Bring stethescope, pen, and notebook. If you have to schedule a doctors appointment do it friday because we do not see appointments on fridays.
(Average Daily hours on duty?)
(What is the attire? When do you change into scrubs?)
(What do doctors/residents/techs constantly harp on?)
You get to know what your case will be the day before. Review the specific cancer that night. Doctors will always ask what is the behavior of the tumor (locally invasive, highly metastatic?), where the tumor can metastasize to, proper drug protocol, and prognosis. Once you know these, you should be good for the fundamentals
(Words of encouragement)
These residents and faculty are fantastic teachers. You will learn a lot during rounds and working with the patients. I really enjoyed Jeopardy rounds that covered all the topics for the week
(Difficulty Level (1-3)? 1= It’s a breeze/ 3= really difficult workload)
1 out of 3
1 John 4:18= “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”