Aubrie Fields solidifies her passion for mixed animal medicine while working at a mixed animal veterinary clinic in Brownfield, Texas.
When the question arose ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?', my answer was always— to become a veterinarian. My name is Aubrie Fields and I am originally from a small town called Sudan, Texas where I grew up surrounded by all types of animals. Being around animals my entire life has sparked by passion for veterinary medicine. In fact, I would pretend there were wounds on my stuffed animal just so I could practice bandaging. My big supporters were my parents. They encouraged me to learn how to give shots, wrap wounds, and much more.
As I got older, I noticed there was a need for rural veterinarians. My family and I would experience this firsthand when we had emergencies with our own animals and more times than not the closest veterinarian was hours away. This made me eager to spend a few weeks shadowing a veterinarian in a mixed-animal practice while I was in high school. Working there made me realize I loved helping both small and large animals. However, years following I found more interest in large animals, especially equine medicine. Now I am about to begin my second year of veterinary school at Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine.
If I am going to be a mixed-animal veterinarian one day, it is a must to have the knowledge and skills to help both small and large animals. As I progressed through my first year of veterinary school, I realized my lack of small-animal experience. This pushed me to plug myself into a clinic this summer to gain more small-animal experience. This led me to Terry County Veterinary Hospital (TCVH) in Brownfield, Texas where Dr. Jim Ridenour was a great mentor for me. When I reached out to “Doc”, he never hesitated to say yes. In fact, he even offered me a place to stay which was a major advantage.
Three days into my summer break, I started working at TCVH and I loved every minute. Although TCVH is a mixed-animal practice, I made it a goal to gain more knowledge in small-animal medicine. The very first day Dr. Jessica Thomas, a professor at Texas Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences and who helps Dr. Ridenour a few days a week, asked if I knew how to neuter a cat. Unfortunately, my response was no and she said, “well you're going to learn right now”. Not too long after, I was allowed to perform several neuters on my own under supervision for which I was incredibly grateful. Drs. Thomas and Ridenour both allowed me to assist them with many pig, horse, and bovine castrations, watch cosmetic dehorns, give vaccinations, sedate patients for surgery, prep wounds for suture, as well as see many clients by myself and talk with them on how we were going to proceed with veterinary care. There were definitely times that I messed up, but both Drs. Thomas and Ridenour were great at teaching me the right methods and providing feedback in areas that I needed to improve. Also, the veterinary technicians were a big advantage during my learning experience as they helped me with anesthesia techniques, giving me insight on the right medications and dosages and many more procedures. The whole crew at TCVH welcomed me and never hesitated to lend a helping hand or teach me something new. Overall, it was an incredible experience.
One thing that made me very proud was how impressed so many people were by the knowledge and skills I have already acquired just in my first year of veterinary school. Throughout my first year I was able to learn many hands-on procedures that I would practice during our clinical skills labs. One procedure we learned was performing a tail draw on a cow. I got to use this skill this summer when I asked a cattle producer if I could practice this procedure and he was happy to give me the equipment and time to hone my tail drawing skills. Even though we had done blood draws on the cattle at the school multiple times, I was still nervous. However, I was able to draw blood on my first try and both Dr. Ridenour and the producer were proud of me.
At the School of Veterinary Medicine, we use models to practice our skills such as venipuncture and palpation. I found it very handy to practice certain procedures on models because I was able to feel more confident while at TCVH. I also had many opportunities to show everyone my knowledge in parasitology, virology, microbiology, and other subjects I have learned throughout my first year. During my time at TCVH, I found the most invaluable skill I used was communication. It was so vital to have a good communication with clients and give them a veterinarian's perspective.
After working at TCVH this summer, I can finally say that my passion is in mixed-animal medicine. No two days are the same and the clients in small towns are incredible. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to work with Drs. Thomas and Ridenour this summer. It was rewarding to see someone who was once in my shoes be such a confident and great medical professional. I can't wait to bring back the knowledge, skills, tips and tricks I learned this summer to start my second year!