10 Tips for Preparing for Junior Spay Week

10 Tips for Preparing for Junior Spay Week

It’s finally happening. You survived anatomy and passed first year, you kept your chin up and struggled through second year, and now you’re here – third year, so close to clinics you can taste it. Before you start clinical rotations, there’s one more milestone to conquer: the third-year spay week, where each and every student will spay not one, but two dogs at the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic.

The Junior Spay Lab at Cummings School is top-notch, and you will always have help when you need it. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll obsess at least a little bit about spay week, and wonder what you can do to minimize anxiety on the day itself. I put together a list of ten tips from V17s and V18s who have been down the same road. Keep in mind that you do NOT have to do all of these things to be prepared for spay lab. Everyone will have a different way of getting themselves ready to go in!

Without further ado, here are ten tips to think about when your spay week is coming up:

  1. At the very least, make sure you watch the videos and read your syllabus. Aside from the procedure itself, your syllabus has information on prep as well as your duties post-surgery. The videos are clear and informative, and you can speed them up in case you want to watch them a second time for a quick review. Take some time to write out the procedure for yourself in your own words. Remember that if you get stuck or lost at any time, you can ask for help.
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    The Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic is located on campus in North Grafton, MA.

    Consider spending some time at the Lerner Clinic. We’re pretty lucky to have access to the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic all four years of school. If, like me, you kind of dropped the ball on community cat clinics, there’s still hope! You can contact Dr. April Paul about shadowing some spays in the Lerner Clinic on Fridays. Getting familiar with the space as well as the general rhythm of prep and induction might help reduce some stress on the big day.

  1. Brush up on your sutures. You’ll have a lab on gowning and gloving where you should be able to grab some suture for practice. Take a piece of fruit (I personally use oranges) and spend a few minutes practicing your technique. Do it while watching Netflix – the less you have to think about it the better! If you want something more realistic, Joe Popowski from anatomy lab recommends buying grocery store chicken with the skin-on and using that. Speaking of Joe…  
  1. Revisit your anatomy. Dig up your old anatomy notes and take a quick look at the reproductive anatomy PowerPoint to make sure you remember the different structures. Even if you’ve memorized the procedure, more visuals can only help. (Try not to get too emotional remembering long nights studying for anatomy in first year.)  
  1. Learn how to access Stringsoft on your computer, and be ready to write a SOAP. For almost all of you, this will be the first time you ever write a SOAP in Stringsoft. Use the template given to you on TUSK and make sure you know how to fill it out. Definitely bring your laptop to your spay – things move faster if you don’t have to wait for each other to finish typing. You’ll learn how to access and use the Stringsoft interface at the gowning and gloving lab, so make sure you bookmark that link!
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    Isa Francisco, V18, (right), at the Lerner Clinic during her Junior Spay Lab.

    Practice gowning and gloving. Closed gloving gave me a little bit of anxiety, so I actually took a pair of gloves home from the gowning and gloving lab, and used a large hoodie with long cuffs as my ‘surgical gown’ to practice. Spending a few minutes repeating the motion made a huge difference in how comfortable I was with gowning and gloving on the day. If you forget what they taught you in the lab, don’t worry – there are dozens of tutorials on Youtube, which is where I got the idea to use a hoodie in the first place!

  1. Need a more intense review? Go back to the anatomy lab. A few classmates of mine reached out and scheduled an appointment to go back into the anatomy lab and practice with a cadaver. The Surgery Club may also offer similar opportunities, depending on the time of year. It’s not an absolute necessity, but it can definitely help if you just need to see what you’re doing. Remember that our anatomy program is one of the most comprehensive ones in the country, and we have access to that lab as long as we remain on campus. Take advantage of it.
  1. Pack a bag the night before so you minimize stress on the day itself. Don’t forget a good watch (there are cheap ones on Amazon for under $20), your favorite black pens, and possibly a small notebook that will fit in a pocket of your scrubs. Make sure you have clean scrubs for each day and put your stethoscope somewhere you won’t forget it.
  1. Plan to eat a good breakfast and pack some snacks. You’re going to be in the clinic for a very long morning. You’ll have to wake up early, but if you don’t eat before you leave the house, you’ll be lightheaded and shaky post-op (trust me). Make sure you eat breakfast, and pack a granola bar or your snack of choice before things really get rolling.
  1. Try and get a good night’s sleep. Easier said than done, I know, but try to prepare so that you don’t feel like you’re rushing the night before, and do something restful before sleeping. Go to bed early and set multiple alarms. Have a buddy text or call you in the morning if you’re worried about waking up – you don’t want to keep the rest of your spay group waiting. 

And there you have it – ten tips for feeling more confident the day of your spay! Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun!