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Vet Student on Clinical Placement: Surgery 101

This a typical day at one of the small animal vet practices I regularly attend clinical placement (EMS) at. I love returning to this practice and this time I wanted to really focus on improving my surgical skills.

A Typical day


I wake up at around 7am but more likely get up at 7:30 and then take my dog for a walk. It is sometimes hard to fit in exercise around clinical placements, especially when they can be quite exhausting! So, I think it is important to get in some exercise before the day starts.


I arrive at the practice and start the day by first checking the ops board. This is the list of operations for the day, this tells me what animals are in and what procedure they are having. This can range from dental procedures to spays (ovariohysterectomies) to lump removals. This practice is a very busy practice, which means there is always lots to get stuck in with.


Whilst the vets begin consulting, I start admitting the inpatients for the day. This involves going over the ins and outs of the operation with the owner, making sure that they are aware of the risk for anaesthesia and reassuring them that their pet will be in the best care. It can be quite nerve wrecking for an owner to have their animal go through an operation so good communication is really important!

This is a photo of a cute kitten we had in.

Once I have admitted the patients for that day, I begin to do a physical health check on each of them. This involves checking their heart rate, respiratory rate, checking their temperature and giving them an all-round check over. This is important as only healthy animals can go under general anaesthesia and we don’t want to put any animals in unnecessary risk. It is also important to check at this stage if the animal is the correct sex as their file says or if they have a heart murmur or any other conditions. This vet practice does a lot of work with cat protection charities, so we often have a lot of kittens and stray cats that come in for castrations and spays.


Once I have checked over all the inpatients for the day, I begin drawing up the pre-op medication, as well as pain relief drugs and drugs to induce anaesthesia. This can involve a lot of maths, so I make sure a triple check the doses with the vet.


Once the vets have finished consulting, we begin surgery. So, whilst the vets start their operations that are complex such as lump removals, they allow me to do slightly easier operations like castrations.

The surgery I really wanted to practise more at was feline spays so I managed to do a couple of these before lunch. This surgery is major surgery, as you are surgically entering the body cavity to remove the ovarian horns and the uterus, so it is important to be aware of the major blood vessels and other organs near the uterus. As well as stitching everything back in a way. I was also very lucky to do my first ever tooth extraction on a dog!

Here is photo of me mid-op with the permission of the practice.


After a busy few hours of ops, there is finally time for lunch!


Consults begin again, so I go into shadow the vet. Appointments are full of procedures like vaccinations, boosters, post op checks and arthritis injections. Which is all very interesting, especially when you have very cute patients.


The days finishes and go home to rest and take my dog out once more before relaxing for another busy shift the following day!

Written by: Saffron Dholakia

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