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Monday, July 20, 2009

Advice To Wannabe Vets, Part 4

#4: Learn how to do dentistry.
I'm not sure how training is in other countries, but here in the US vets really don't receive enough training in dentistry. When I was in school we had a single lesson in dental cleanings, no real lessons in extractions, and a couple of lessons in dental structure at all. I mentor a lot of new graduates and students, and it seems like it hasn't really changed since I graduated. This is a major oversight in veterinary education. In private practice we educate virtually every client on dental care and the consequences of dental disease. We do dental cleanings almost every day, and often multiple times in a day. Extractions are common, and they're not easy to do if you don't know certain methods. I'll readily admit that I hate dental work, and would never do it again if I had the option. However, I really don't have that option. Dentistry is an essential part of private small animal practice and something that every vet needs to be proficient in. Now, I'm not talking about going into specialty dentistry (yes, there is a board certification in dentistry, and these vets can do caps, crowns, root canals, braces, etc.), just learning how to be good at the basics. As much as you may hate it, you're going to do it every day. Probably 95% of what I learned was after graduation through attending continuing education lectures and reading journal articles. When you go through vet school and after you graduate, take it upon yourself to learn as much as you can about dental care and extraction procedures. It will make you a better vet and actually make your job easier.