The Chinook students were asked to write reflective pieces about their experiences as veterinarians in the North. Some of these pieces will be published, as blog posts, some without the names of the author. This one was written after the 2014 trip, about the path that leads to the beginning of the journey.
I became increasingly interested in the Chinook project when I spoke with a fellow participant, who indicated that not only was this one of his favorite rotations, but one in which he gained a great deal of practical experience. With that thought in mind, I looked further into what the Chinook project was and how I might participate in this experience. Having now completed the Chinook project, I would agree completely. Not only was it my favorite rotation thus far, as we did gain a great deal of practical experience, but the project provided each student a very unique learning opportunity. One where you had to think on your feet, adapt, and apply the skills and knowledge we had been learning for the last three years.
Prior to leaving for Goose bay I was completely unaware of what to expect. I found myself to be overly excited with the thought of adapting to the unknown circumstances into which I was about to be dropped. My greatest worry at the time did not focus on whether I was capable of handling the long days and hard work. But rather would I be prepared enough as a 4th year veterinarian student and would I be capable applying the skills I have been building over the past three years. My surgical skills prior to leaving were rather limited in my mind, and this was a continuous source of concern for me. Having only one live surgery of my own, and a shared surgery with a fellow classmate, did not reassure me as much as I would have liked. Either way, I knew when the situation presented itself I would have to put into play what I had learned, whether that was going to be at the comfort level I would like it to be or not.
Walking into the Sheshatshiu clinic around 9pm in the evening we arrived, I was struck by the look of exhaustion on the faces of the first team, who had already been working for several days. I knew the next few days were going to be exhausting, but these guys looked wiped out and spent. That night I didn’t sleep very well, tossing and turning, playing out different scenarios I might encounter and what I have learned to guide me through these clinical situations. Before I knew it I was up, into my scrubs, packing the truck and off to the town fire hall which was converted into a temporary mobile clinic.
The next thing I knew, I was talking with clients, taking in patients, drawing up my premeds and sedating animals. The catheter was placed, induction drugs given, intubation and surgical prep completed. Then before I knew it I was cutting into the abdomen, searching around for the ovaries, ligating the pedicles, removing the uterus and closing up my incision. And that’s pretty much how things went in Sheshatshiu and then in Rigolet. Instead of worrying about what I was brought there to do, I did what I was brought there to do. I try not to over think what I had been learning for the last three years and instead I just put it to play. The stress level after each surgery began to decrease and being on my feet for long hours at a time became just another thing that we had to do.