Yesterday we woke up bright and early and headed to the Paws Vet Clinic to get started on our educational experience. We spent the first few hours listening to an introduction to the species, breeds and customs we will encounter during this trip. We then moved on to a first time topic for the majority of us: sutures! We learned about all kinds of sutures, from the simple interrupted, to the continuous, to the hidden knot. It was all a bit mind boggling at first. Nothing seemed to make sense and it was extremely difficult to visualize each suture and method.
After our brief introduction, we were each handed a chicken leg that was sliced in two areas and a suture kit. We were given a brief tutorial and began working on our first suture: the simple interrupted suture. It was really hard for me to figure out how to get it started, but it quickly became easier and easier. Unfortunately, this was the only suture I can confidently say I would be able to do again. We moved onto hidden and continuous sutures, which proved to be extremely difficult to me. Needless to say, I will be purchasing a kit and a banana/ chicken piece to practice my skills.
After we finished suturing our poor chicken legs, Dr. T (the veterinarian who is working with us here in Belize) announced that we would be practicing our sutures on live flesh. He had four spays/neuters scheduled for the day in both dogs and cats. We were split into groups and each group was assigned an animal. I was assigned a female German Shepherd mix that was being spayed. We watched as Dr. T removed her reproductive system and assisted in cutting and holding the appropriate locations. After the procedure was completed, he sutured together the muscle of the incision and instructed us to suture up the skin. We each took turns placing a simple interrupted suture into the skin. I can honestly say it was the best experience I’ve ever had: there’s no chance I would have had such an experience as an undergraduate in the states!