(To get up to speed on the first two days of Brittney’s experiences with the traveling vet service, see Part 1 of this blog.)
The third day of the RAVS trip was a bit different from the first two because we were expected to run a wellness clinic in the morning, pack up the entire clinic, drive down to McLaughlin, South Dakota, and make a new clinic location there. Since all of the morning appointments were just wellness visits with no surgery, however, we were able to move quickly and treat just under 200 animals in a little over four hours. Afterward, the packing was actually quite easy, as everyone had assigned bins to inventory and line up in numerical order, then we formed an assembly line to put everything back into the trailer.
The second clinic location was significantly smaller than the first but we made do with our space and by the time we started the clinic on Thursday morning, we had forgotten about how much smaller the work space was and fell into the same routine as before.
Then Friday arrived and quickly became my favorite day of the entire clinic because I got to perform my first surgeries! I was quite nervous leading up to the first one, but once I found out I was assigned to work with Dr. Bob (who was awesome!), I calmed down and was able to really enjoy the experience.
My debut was on a four year old Corgi named Spunky who vomited rocks before being induced for anesthesia, so what was supposed to be my first routine spay turned into an abdominal explore – there’s no such thing as a dull moment on these trips! Spunky’s spay went very smoothly, however, and Dr. Bob and I didn’t find any more rocks during her explore. My second surgery of the day was a dog neuter – very routine and a great learning experience. The third and final surgery of the day for me was definitely the most exciting, though – it was a neuter on a cat and the veterinarian that I was assigned to let me do the entire procedure by myself! This was a huge milestone – especially considering I had only helped with my first surgery mere hours before.
Friday night (our last night of the trip) we were fortunate to end early for once (about 7:30 p.m. instead of after 10:00 p.m.). There was a football game at the field just outside of the community center we were set up in so we decided to go. (Later we would learn that this football game would cause major problems for us, but in that moment we blissfully enjoyed a typical small town Friday night football game – ironically between the two very cities we had run clinics in: Fort Yates and McLaughlin.)
The funniest moment of the game? Every time a touchdown was scored, the fans honked their car horns instead of cheering!
Once the game wrapped up, we had our regular our nightly meeting, which is when the leader of our clinic shared the bad news: Due to the amount of people using the plumbing at the football game, the high school up the hill, and at the clinic where we were, all plumbing in the area was totaled.
It took a few minutes for it to sink in: At the end of an intensive few days of hard work, we were suddenly without showers, tap water, and most importantly… toilets.
Unfortunately, that meant every time we needed to use the restroom, we had to get into our cars and drive downtown to the nearest gas station. Thankfully it was the last night of the clinic and Saturday was only scheduled to be a short wellness day with no more surgeries so, in true veterinary medicine fashion, everyone laughed about the unfortunate situation we were in and we still managed to hold a great clinic on Saturday, treating upwards of 200 animals in a few hours before packing the trailer and making the return trek back home and into our real lives – which for me included my return to the University of Illinois for my third year of vet school.
Looking back on the RAVS trip now, I have to say it was the most incredible experience I have ever been a part of. All of the doctors I met were fantastic and I was able to learn and improve on my clinical skills every single day even though we were working at a mobile clinic that sometimes felt like it was in the middle of nowhere.
I knew during my time at Albion that I wanted to become a veterinarian, but you can never really be sure about these things until you really experience what it’s like. Having gone to Standing Rock and sharing the experiences I did with other veterinary students like myself, I highly encourage anyone who is interested in veterinary medicine to look into the RAVS program, as they have opportunities for everyone regardless of your position/connection to veterinary medicine. You’ll get a lot of experience and meet a lot of extraordinary individuals (and animals too).
And if you’re like me, you’ll know you’re on the right path to your future career.
Brittney Stanton ’14 is originally from Rochester, Michigan. As a four-year member of the varsity equestrian team, she represented Albion at the IHSA Zone Finals three times, capping her career as the first-ever Briton hunt seat rider to represent the College at IHSA Nationals. She currently competes successfully in the IHSA alumni division when her schedule permits, qualifying for IHSA Zones in 2016. You can also occasionally find her warm-up riding for Albion at home meets during the regular season.