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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Kid's Perspective

One of the things I enjoy doing is talking to children and young adults about veterinary medicine. I have done presentations to all age groups from pre-k to pre-vet college. Last Friday I spoke to some preschool students about pet care. Today I went to my own children's school and talked to six kindergarten classes about what it's like to be a vet.

When we practice for a long time, we sometimes loose some of the awe of what we do. We have seen and done so many things that we forget when it was all new to us. And we have so many clients that don't seem to listen to us or respect our medical judgment that we forget that most people highly respect veterinarians. Being around children can remind us of the "cool" factor of our job.

When I was talking to the classes today I explained that vets do surgery. The kids were 5 and 6 years old and didn't know what that was, so I proceeded to explain. I told them that we would make them be asleep, then cut them open with a small knife called a scalpel, and the put our fingers inside. Most of the kids would go "eeewwww!", but I could tell that they were kind of excited by that. Of course, my daughter was the only one in the class that said "cool!" when the other kids were grossed out. Yes, we think she's going to grow up to be a vet.

A program I have been involved with is FutureVet. They provide online or purchaseable materials to use in making pet care and veterinary presentations to kids and students, all broken down by age groups. I brought play stethescopes to the classes, enough for each child to have one of their own. These are inexpensive toys, and aren't really functional. But they absolutely loved them. To me it's a simple and necessary piece of equipment that I use dozens of times every day and have on my person for about 10 hours a day, so I tend to take it for granted. To the kids this was something amazing and magical. When she came home, my daughter wanted to use one of my real stethescopes so she could actually listen to our pets' hearts.

Days like this help to balance out days like Monday, and remind us that we do have a pretty cool and interesting job.