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New graduate's diary
  1. Jen Hall


Jennifer Hall makes a start on her professional development phase (PDP) record and finds that some skills are dependent on the cases that are presented.

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Bent double and squashed between a wall, a crush and a hindlimb, I awkwardly tried to inspect a bullock's foot last week: the animal being ever so slightly uncooperative did not make the job any easier. Through the sounds of the crush clanging, the scraper in the yard and the bullocks next door bellowing, I could not grasp why the farmer kept talking to me about the loo. Being a Devonian and working in Devon, I had naturally assumed that the local dialect wouldn't be a problem for me, but this man was as broad as they come, and there had been much nodding and smiling on my part as he explained the history of the lame animal. As I stepped back, I concluded that it was footrot and that antibiotic treatment was necessary. He looked at me triumphantly and said: ‘Yes, luer.’ Then it dawned on me: he hadn't been informing me of the bullock's toilet habits; it was a colloquial term for footrot.

I've been trying to be good about doing my PDP this month, now that things have settled down. It sounds ridiculous, but it's hard to remember to do it regularly. Luckily, I have been keeping a record of cases, which makes it easier to fill in the online record. There are some skills that I have had plenty of practice in and feel completely competent at – blood testing, for example – but there are areas that are distinctly lacking. I am making an effort to keep on top of things, but there is an element of dependence on the caseload.

My work has been varied this month, with an increase in sheep calls. The warm spell at the beginning of the month resulted in a mass hatch of worm eggs, and a lot of sheep people calling up with poorly lambs. I expect wormer sales were up! I also castrated 15 wild Exmoor rams with horns last week, which had been living on the moor for the past five months … fun! I did get a chocolate brownie and tea at the end of it though.

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My on-call weekend saw me trampling through woodland with an armed police officer to find a deer with a broken leg. We had headed into the deep undergrowth to find it; goodness knows how the member of the public who reported it had found it. Unfortunately, our skills as Hansel and Gretel failed and, having done the deed, we spent a fair amount of time trying to find our way back to the road, with the dead deer in tow. Oh well, if you've got to be on call, there are worse hardships than being in a forest with a rather gorgeous policeman!

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