Through the generous donation of the Study Abroad Stipend, I was able to spend two weeks in July at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Hanover. The University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover helped me with housing, so I was able to stay in an apartment literally across the street from the small animal clinic. During my time at the hospital, I observed and volunteered on an anesthesia rotation and on a small animal reproduction rotation.
On the anesthesia rotation, I was able to intubate animals, place IV catheters and give IM and IV drugs as well as participate in morning rounds and teaching rounds. I was also able to scrub into and assist in surgeries. It was great to see the similarities and differences between the teaching hospitals in Illinois and Hanover. On the reproduction service I was able to perform vaginascopy exams, prepare and look at vaginal cytology, and assist the clinicians with patients in routine reproductive exams. In addition to the clinical skills that I was able to practice, being at a teaching hospital in another country gave me a great appreciation for how other hospitals and schools are set up.
The University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover has a brand new teaching hospital with state of the art equipment and technology. One of the aspects of the hospital that struck me the most was how cat-friendly the hospital is. The owner check-in and waiting area is comprised of many small rooms with noise-proof doors so owners can wait with their animals in private. Once admitted to the hospital, cats are taken to a ward two floors above the dogs, also with sound proof doors. There are multiple small rooms in the cat ward, which hold two to four cages, but also have windows and space for the cats to walk around. During my time at the teaching hospital, most of the cats were able to have their own room—while they had beds set up in stainless steel cages, the cage doors were open and they had IV extension sets long enough to be able to get up and walk around the room. Litter boxes were placed outside the cages, which gave the cats significantly more space. Cats that were considered to be painful were given multimodal analgesia that most often included methadone as the opioid. Between the housing set up, pain control and the extreme sensitivity by all members of faculty, staff and students to treat each cat calmly, gently, and with respect (and not as small dogs!), these were the happiest, most relaxed, least stressed cats I have ever seen in an animal hospital.
Overall, the University of Veterinary Medicine was a wonderful place to be. It was great to be able to practice and learn clinical skills, as well as seeing how much impact different set ups and ideas can benefit the patients. Everyone I encountered, from my roommates in the apartment, to the administration who helped me get organized, to the clinicians, professors and students, was enormously friendly and helpful. It was an amazing experience.