Class of 2019 Story: With Every Patient, an Indelible Lesson

Name: Tyler Perkins
Hometown: Greensboro
Focus: Small animal and exotics
Post-graduation plans: Emergency medicine

The first year of veterinary school was an academic challenge unlike anything I had ever experienced. I embraced the challenge and thankfully had access to faculty and staff who were more supportive than I ever expected.

That was my first glimpse into the special environment at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. The faculty and staff truly care about students both as people and as future veterinarians. The three years of classroom and laboratory education laid an incredible foundation as I dove headfirst into clinical medicine in my fourth and final year.

From the second I entered the Terry Center I was amazed by the things that happen there every single day. On any given day, incredible anesthesiologists are monitoring patients during life-saving operations performed by excellent surgeons, while another patient is being imaged and those images are being reviewed by skilled radiologists. At the same time, another patient is being monitored around the clock in the ICU.

It’s been a life-changing experience to be a part of so many care teams, learning to practice veterinary medicine from some of the best clinicians in the world.

I remember being told from the second I got to veterinary school that plans change and that you might change your mind about what you want to do within veterinary medicine. Throughout clinical year I have remained fascinated by all aspects of the field.

I always thought I would start out in general practice. As I continued in my clinical year, I began to realize how much I enjoyed learning about and participating in stabilizing patients, fluid therapy, general problem solving and pain management.

Everything came together when I was in my small animal emergency rotation. Within 30 minutes of the rotation, I had placed my first nasal oxygen cannula and assisted in the stabilization of that patient who we later determined was in heart failure. The emergency medicine rotation gave me the opportunity to be there for patients at a time when they are most vulnerable and, with the incredible emergency clinicians, provide life-saving and compassionate care.

I saw skilled veterinarians do amazing things. I saw the resilience that is often overlooked in small animal patients as they beat the odds time and again.

Whether the patients had an overnight stay in the emergency room or went on to have their care continued by another service, each patient I came in contact with taught me something that will undoubtedly make me a better veterinarian.

After taking this rotation, I quickly realized that emergency medicine allowed me to practice and grow in all of my interests — neurology, internal medicine, exotic animal medicine and anesthesia to name a few — in a way that was unique, challenging and rewarding. I opened my job search window to include private practice emergency jobs and am happy to say that I will be practicing emergency medicine in Greensboro.

I look forward to taking the standard of care, excellent medicine and compassion that was modeled each day at the Terry Center with me as I enter my next chapter. I have so much gratitude for the senior clinicians, residents, interns and technicians who have instructed me, believed in me and challenged me on this clinical year journey over the last year.

The hours have at times been long. At times the cases were frustrating or heartbreaking, but I wouldn’t trade a second of what I’ve experienced here. I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible people, both in the CVM and in clients who bring their pets here. I have had the honor and privilege of caring for and learning from countless patients.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, for the wonderful foundation in veterinary medicine, the priceless experiences, the friendships and the mentorship.