Performing the Small Animal Physical Examination. Veterinary medicine is an ever-growing field of knowledge. Much like its human counterpart, the profession of veterinary medicine has expanded into a great many specialty areas of interest that have collectively magnified the standard of care that today’s veterinary patient is able both to expect and to receive.
Performing the Small Animal Physical Examination
Veterinary clients are often astounded when I recommend referral of their companion animal to any number of board-certified specialists. It may come as a surprise to our clients that we are so well represented as a profession to be able to offer such specialties as anesthesiology, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, neurology, nutrition, and oncology, to name just a few. To the veterinary student, these areas of expertise are often captivating and represent opportunities that did not exist within the profession 50 years ago: open doors through which we can practice a standard of medicine that is increasingly progressive and state of the art.
With all the bells and whistles available to the veterinary student in the modern teaching hospital, it is easy to forget that at the heart of every successful veterinary encounter is a basic, comprehensive physical examination. No matter how many diagnostic tests and procedures are developed to provide answers to our patients and clients alike, there is still no substitute for a thorough examination. The physical examination links the generalist to the specialist because all veterinary practitioners must master this set of skills that collectively paints a picture of our patient and its needs.