COVID-19: A student veterinarian’s perspective
Hi! My name is Morganna, and I’m a student veterinarian entering my third year at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in Guelph. I’ve been working at PEAC since December, but my connections with the clinic go much farther back, as PEAC was actually the very first clinic I volunteered in as a hopeful vet school applicant back in the summer of 2017. That summer feels like a time from a very different world, not just because I am more than halfway through my schooling to become a vet now, but also because it was a time free from all the new societal rules and protocols that come with living in a global pandemic.
When the pandemic hit Ontario initially, all of my on-campus classes were immediately cancelled, just like those of most other university students. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the final time this year that I would see my colleagues that I spent eight hours a day within the classroom and lab; the last time I would be allowed to shadow cases in the teaching hospital; the last time I would be able to practice clinical skills in the barn (such as listening to a cow’s gut sounds, or finding the digital pulse on a horse), the last time I would work on my microscopy skills in the parasitology lab; and the last time this year I would write one of my many tests in person. There were a great many changes in a very short period of time, and it was certainly a rapid adjustment with just one week off before all my lectures and labs resumed in an alternative online format. Thankfully, my professors and the teaching teams at OVC adapted quickly and effectively, and I was able to successfully finish the year at the end of April by writing all my exams online from my bedroom in Toronto.
The adjustment to online learning for me was not as difficult as I had expected it to be. Change is always scary, but I valued being able to watch lectures on my own time and having the opportunity to replay moments where I didn’t understand the first time through. Writing exams online was a very unique experience, and although the first few were stressful due to worry about technical difficulties and timing, the electronic format had many benefits and we quickly adjusted. Being home in Toronto also meant I could be around my family, who are a great support system for me in stressful exam times, and also gave me the opportunity to spend time working in the clinic which provided a much-needed change of pace from all the studying, and reminded me of why I chose this path for myself in the first place. I am someone who tries to find the silver lining of whatever situation I am presented with, but I truly did not have to work very hard to see quite a few silver linings within all these changes.
Looking forward into the future, a lot is still uncertain. In my third year at OVC, there are many exciting opportunities to refine clinical skills that students greatly look forward to, notably including acting as the primary surgeon on spay or neuter procedures. My classmates and I have yet to hear how many of our crucial labs that have no real online alternative might be adapted, but I know that solutions will be found that consider the best interest of everyone involved. All of my vet school lectures will likely be online, as will many of my labs, and there is no doubt this year will be very unique in its challenges and successes. However, I plan to face this uncertainty with flexibility, positivity, and an open mind, as I have tried to face all the changes the last few months have brought. Additionally, a huge plus of this situation is the ability to schedule my time more freely, which means I will be able to continue being around PEAC well into the school year!
I really value my time at the clinic as a vet student because there are so many learning opportunities, from following complex cases to seeing how to approach common issues that pets face and what the best treatments are, and also practising my communication and clinical skills. Both Dr.Toman and Dr.Grubor always take the time to answer my questions and explain their thought process while they’re treating a patient, and I am so appreciative of this because I leave PEAC having learned something new almost every day! Regardless of what the fall may bring in terms of online-style education, there will be an abundance of learning opportunities for me here at PEAC.