A few days ago in anesthesia lecture, Dr. Drile announced, “Now we are going to learn about xylazine. All of you in the audience who are women, or men under 200 pounds, can be thankful for this drug.” She then plunged into her lecture on xylazine, and it took several minutes for her to get around to explaining why I should be thankful for it, during which time I was mostly distracted by what a weird introduction that had been.
Eventually we got to a slide depicting a small woman leading an enormous draft horse, and Dr. Drile explained. Xylazine is a really excellent sedative/tranquilizer, used primarily in large animals (although also sometimes in small animals). Before we had xylazine for chemical restraint, we had to physically restrain these enormous animals in order to do simple procedures on them. This was difficult and dangerous, and if you were a small person, you couldn’t easily do it. Xylazine hit veterinary medicine around the 1970s, which coincides with an increasing influx of women into the field. The estimates vary for women in veterinary medicine now, but we decidedly dominate numerically. In my first year class, there were 70 women and 12 men. My school recently spent a hefty chunk of change to remodel the anatomy building’s changing rooms, to increase the space in the women’s room at the expense of the men’s. There are, of course, lots of reasons why there are so many more women in veterinary medicine now than there used to be, but this was one I hadn’t considered before.
Thanks to xylazine, veterinary medicine is no longer a wrestling match. I am, accordingly, grateful.
What I did today: Quiz in zoological medicine (not supposed to be hard, and wasn’t). Gym! Two hours of dermatology lecture (new class, very engaging guest speaker). Lunch! (Went to meeting about how the lottery for scheduling our clinical rotations will work.) One hour of small animal medicine lecture (vaccines). Out super early.