Class Rank Matters

Have you ever been mooned by a cow in a kerosene-lit barn? Hmm, must not have graduated dead last in your class! Oh well, you know what they call the lowest-ranked veterinarian, right?

Class Rank Matters
Can't seem to find a scantron anywhere around here...

Ever wonder how the positions in your graduating class’s ranking system panned out? They laughingly predicted the “A” students would stay in academia, and the “B” students would go to work for the “C” students. Ranking went beyond categorical letter grades though, filtered through overall GPA and 4th year evaluations, into a raw numerical fraction. Your final transcripts state it clearly; you finished ranked something like #10 of 118 students, or maybe #100 of 125 students. The fight for #1 was brutal, competitive, and impressive. So many A’s and glowing evaluations, bravo to all of you #1’s, it’s a hardearned distinction.

I dare say, someone else in your class probably fought just as hard, or harder. For them, the A’s were rare, the B’s few too, and support from faculty waned. They may have even been recycled into a 5th year, fighting just to stay enrolled. Yep, in every class, someone graduated dead last. In my class…it was me!

In the NFL draft, the last pick each year is given the title of “Mr. Irrelevant”. Well, I became a “Cow Plumber”. Just a palpation sleeve and some lube - blue collar work at veterinary wages. If watching the sun rise over one of California’s 10,000-cow dairies, while being mooned by each of them awaiting their Vet exam, doesn’t sound interesting, neither will Ryan Sadler’s collection of photos on the next page of this Waggie. (Note: He was nowhere near my class ranking, not even close to last.)

But what if…what if I took my 5 years of Veterinary education and moved to the Midwest, where the Amish shrug off anything that dies as being God’s will, and the English blame the weather? I could just go all-in on livestock and pets, any species but human, and bend some scalpel blades in kerosene lantern barn surgeries. Yep, I did. A little clinic hired me, and it was the wild West of country medicine. Here’s a replay of my first on-call weekend:

Friday 9:15-10:30am
-Sick goat named “Valarie”: kidded 3 days ago but had one retained, rotten, fetus inside – Euthanized: 30cc Fatal-Plus IV.
-Holstein calf named “Salt”: umbilical hernia re-check - good, incision healing well, remove sutures
-Angus calf with horn buds: 6cc Lidocaine per side, dehorn
-Equine 17yo gelding -Coggins test and West Nile vaccine
-Dog named “Maggie”: Left ear hematoma – advised owner to schedule appointment in the clinic, I’ll get to that later
-Amish Holstein cow named “White”: Mastitis and pyometra – 12 cc Banamine IV, 5cc Lutalyse IM, 4 Intra-mammary antibiotic tubes “Today” and left 4 “Tomorrow” tubes for the morning.
-Amish Holstein cow named “Tiny”: not coming into heat, corpus luteum on right ovary – 5cc Lutalyse

Saturday 9:25-10:25am
-Amish sheep: Lambing with one retained fetus – re-positioned fetal head, delivered live lamb manually
-Goat named “Secret”: Teeth grinding and being “off” per owner – Died during my physical exam! Taken to clinic for necropsy. Nutmeg liver, 1.5L peritoneal ascities, right heart failure. Advised owner to deworm flock.
4:09-5:25pm -Cow named “Blondie”: Calving dystocia – Cow and fetus hiplocked, fetus dead on my arrival – fetotomy. “Blondie” ok. (Thank you, California dairy experience).
6:22-7:51pm -Goat named “Jelly”: Firm udder – Banamine IV, Intramammary antibiotics, blood collected for CAEV, CLA
9:00-9:45pm -Alpaca: Frothy mouth – physical exam unremarkable, false alarm.

Sunday 10:25-12:25am
-Goat: Bloated – 1cc Banamine IV, 14cc Thiamine IM, 4cc Biomysin-200 antibiotics SQ, failed attempts to pass stomach tube orally or nasally, obstruction? Agonal goat, rumen tap with 14-guage needle. Goat died on my boot.
3:15 – 4:15pm
-Farm dog named “Kricket”: vomiting and diarrhea following change from dry to canned food – Fluids LRS 300ml SQ, Metronidazole 125mg PO BID x 7 days, re-check tomorrow.
Met client at clinic: Sold him a 40-pack of cow teat dilators and 12 bottles of 50% Dextrose
7:28 – 9:35pm Mini donkey: colic – severe abdominal distention, pings asculted, probably weighs 250#. 2.5ml Banamine IV, 0.4 Detomadine IM. Unable to pass nasal or oral gastric tube (again, what the heck) so no mineral oil delivered. Euthanized: 60cc Fatal-Plus IV.
Late night call -Dairy cow: mastitis – owner just wants vet out first thing in the morning.
Late night call -Horse: owner wants it euthanized – but not by me (Was expecting the clinic owner to answer the on call line, has no idea who I am). Would rather wait until normal business hours in the morning.

Yikes, right? What a first solo weekend! Thank you, iPad, VIN (Veterinary Information Network), unlucky stars, and an employment contact that provided a salary but zero additional compensation for on-call work. So, there you have it. Does being ranked dead last matter? Grade me if you like; my career has only gotten better; and if you still haven’t figured out who I am, it doesn’t matter - folks just call me “Doc”