I had never given an injection to an organism, cared for an injury on anything other than a human, and I had no idea what went on behind the scenes of veterinary medicine. Before this experience with the North Carolina State University Veterinary School’s Turtle Team, I knew that I wanted work in a field that benefits marine wildlife and protects the marine environment. However, I have yet to fully identify what role to assume in doing so. One way I can accomplish this goal is through attending vet school and studying to work in marine life medicine, and I witnessed a glimpse of this path during this externship. I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Lewbart, a professor of zoological medicine, and his students at Turtle Team. Within the past five days, I learned how to properly care and handle different species of turtles, give injections and calculate dosages, clean and bandage wounds, and observed a team of vets culture and analyze two species of fish at the local Bass Pro Shop through the diagnosing process. The opportunity to develop and learn these skills will aid me in a potential future career in marine medicine.
Seeing the eyes of one of the vet students light up as she pulled tiny ivory eggs out of a deceased mother turtle is an image I’ll never forget. In that moment, you could feel the excitement in the room build as more and more eggs were pulled out, and another generation was preserved. Although one life could not be saved, ten more lives stood the chance at survival. This feeling of helping and doing what we can to maintain a healthy ecosystem is one that I want to feel in whatever future career I take on. The passion and enthusiasm that I encountered with every North Carolina State University vet student was exemplified in their care for the organism they were treating. This experience solidified that I want to go into veterinary medicine or conservation for marine life as the joy I had in helping the turtles at Turtle Team was one of the most rewarding experiences.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn more about veterinary medicine for the week at one of the most prestigious vet programs in the country. I enjoyed interacting with students, listening to Dr. Lewbart’s explanations, and exploring the city of Raleigh. I was able to take full advantage of the location by visiting the Natural Science Museum and eating in Downtown Raleigh as well. This experience was incredibly helpful in my career path and in developing characteristics and skills that will aid me further down the road, and I appreciate this opportunity that Dr. Lewbart and Gettysburg College afforded me with.