The power of Repetition

Even though I have devout equine career interests, veterinary school provides excellent opportunities to dabble in various other species. Now is the time to experience other areas of veterinary medicine, since I have my whole career to devote to equine practice. I decided to take a shelter rotation at one of the largest shelters in the United States. The capacity of this shelter, the influx of dogs and cats on a daily basis and the large support staff made this experience rich with a diverse case load, a gambit of emotions and provided an abundance of surgery time.

Some of my shelter patients
Some of my shelter patients

For the past two weeks, I have spent my afternoons performing spays and castrations on dogs, cats and one rabbit. On my last day, I summed up my surgeries and left with a few more notches in my surgery belt of experience:

Feline ovariohysterectomy: 8
Feline castration: 22

Canine ovariohysterectomy: 6
Canine castrations: 9

Rabbit castration: 1

In addition to improving my tissue handling skills, suturing technique and overall confidence in soft tissue surgery, I also decreased my surgery times. My first dog spay of the rotation took 2 hours, and was the third spay of my early veterinary career. My first canine neuter on a 65 lb lab took 1 hour. By the last day of the rotation, I was performing the surgeries and running anesthesia with an OVH surgery time of 55 minutes and a castration time of 20 minutes.

Hail, a moment of personal victory! I ventured back in time amongst my blog entries to revisit an entry about my first humbling castration. I read over my previously established surgical “commandments.”

And I am happy to report that I have abided by the commandments after hours of due diligence and repetition. A frustrated self had written:

Reflecting back on my part of the castration, there are several things I need to improve upon. Take away lessons FOR myself:

1. Incise with confidence.

2. Extend or work-out.

3. Trust my instincts.

4. When placing ligatures, place the ligature.

And I can confidently look at that list and say:


It feels great to see progress, especially when I’ve felt like I’ve been bogged down for the past month or two.