Like most medical professionals, a veterinarian’s education is far from over the moment they graduate. Indeed, it’s just beginning. Not only do we need to continue to learn and refine the skills we’ve already acquired, the continuous and exponential increase in knowledge requires us to practice in a perpetual state of evolution.
I graduated from veterinary school in 2002. I still feel like a new grad sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things I might as well be a dinosaur. Some of the things- OK, lots of the things- that were taught to me as cutting edge that short time ago have been long supplanted by medicines and techniques bigger and better. I will never forget the conversation I had with a new grad over the use of steroids in shock cases- she looked at me like I was Fred Flintstone taking a chisel to a patient for a craniotomy. This field evolves fast.
Our state, like most, has a continuing education requirement. In California, one must accrue at least 36 hours of approved continuing education every licensing period (which is every 2 years.) There’s lots of ways to go about acquiring this knowledge, and this year I’m doing it my very favorite way: at the Western Veterinary Conference in Vegas. I’ve skipped it in favor of smaller, more local venues the past few years, but with a sister who lives there and is willing to let me impose, and the shiny siren call of 4 solid days of OMG I NEVER KNEW THAT at stake, I just couldn’t resist.
I had a neurology professor in school, a New Zealander whose name I don’t even recall, who was, I think, one of the most incredible teachers I’ve ever had. Of course I didn’t know it at the time and I hated neurology so I spent most of his classes struggling to stay awake because it was dark, and PowerPoint will do that to a person. But so much of what he said burrowed into my subconscious and stuck.
One day he said to the bleary eyed students, “You all can’t wait to graduate and get to work. But 6 months from now you’re all going to wish you were back here, with all these professors at your disposal. LEARN WHILE YOU CAN. You have no idea how good you have it right now.”
There will be lectures on pretty much every topic under the sun and I have made it my goal this weekend to try and map out which lectures I want to attend the most. All of them. Anyone have any topics they are dying to learn the latest on? I’ll do my best to report back.