Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3 Days of Orthopedics

A couple weeks ago, I was assigned to the orthopedic department for 3 days. I imagined myself taking patient histories, helping with office calls, and being told to do a lot of stuff I haven't learned yet. Well, I was right about the last one. Monday morning I was finishing writing my first official SOAP when an intern told me I would be going to surgery soon. This is awesome!! Then I find out who the clinician is and they are very intimidating and have a reputation of being extremely strict. Not so awesome!!
I meet with the clinicians as they're reviewing the radiographs and find out that we will be repairing a tibial fracture. While prepping the dog, I received some very good advice from an anesthesiologist: "Make sure you pee before the surgery." The surgery lasted 5 or 6 hours and I was glad I followed the advice. I was extremely tired that night not only because of the marathon surgery but also because in ortho surgeries, we apparently have to wear lead vests under our gowns because we are taking radiographs throughout the surgery. That night I went to dinner with the scary surgeon, the resident, and another clinician. The surgeon ended up buying my dinner and offering me a summer job. It was a nice change of pace to talk to these doctors about life and get advice on what I should be doing now to get where I want to be. While this surgeon is still somewhat intimidating, I realize they are not mean, and they do just want to make students into the best doctors possible. This was so much more than I expected from this holiday job!!
The next 2 days I learned a lot about caring for these dogs that were hit-by-cars and assisting with 2 more femoral fracture repairs. I have become very proficient at suctioning blood, holding a leg for very long times (which reminds me of Turk on Scrubs when he scratches his nose with some guy's toe during surgery), cutting suture, and cleaning instruments. I did get to practice suturing and stapling during the closure on the last dog. My last hour working was spent discharging one of the dogs with the resident to the owners. This was a very rewarding time to see this dog walking again and the owners so happy to have him back!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's Like Christmas

After classes ended, I wanted to start reading a book for fun and I had 2 to choose from that I bought back in August: "All My Patients have Tales" by Jeff Wells AND "Tell Me Where It Hurts" by Nick Trout. Yes, that's right I read about veterinarians for fun when I'm not studying. Talk about well-rounded. Anyways, Nick Trout is a surgeon so I started reading his book and was hooked. I highly recommend this book to any aspiring small animal vets and especially surgeons. He explains clinical diseases and techniques very clearly but not too simple since I was still learning more about procedures I was somewhat familiar with. He also has enough humor to keep it entertaining. In the first chapter, he talks about a dog with GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus). Briefly, it usually occurs in deep-chested dogs after a big meal. During exercise, the stomach twists (volvulus) and the gas being produced during digestion? becomes trapped - dog is unable to burp - and results in a bloated stomach (gastric dilatation) with no way to release the pressure. Obviously, the dog does not feel good and time is important because the twisting can cut off blood supply to the stomach as well as the spleen.
Up until today, my job at the teaching hospital has been rather boring. We have 3-4 people giving treatments to 2 animals in the mornings. One day, I barely did anything because we have too many people doing too little work. Today, I got to take care of a German Shepherd with Myasthenia Gravis (animal's body makes antibodies to acetylcholine receptors ->dog gets stiff/tired after exercise) and possibly secondary megaesophagus. This dog looked terrible 3-4 days ago - not moving much, not eating much, salivating a ton. Today, the dog went for a walk outside, wasn't salivating much, and scarfed down a can of food. He may have even gone home today. It was fun talking to the doctor about myasthenia gravis and its treatment/prognosis. It's a good chance to see what I know and what I have to learn. There are a few drugs to treat myasthenia gravis, but the important thing to look for are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
I was also on-call for surgery today. My plan was to sit at home and watch movies all day until my phone rang and I was called into surgery for an emergency GDV. It was an answered prayer to scrub in on the surgery. I am still struggling with finding the arm holes for the gown, but the rest of the scrubbing and gloving went fine. I always find one arm hole and have no clue where the other is. I gowned up and was put in charge of suction. We immediately removed 1 liter of bloody fluid from the abdomen. At this point, I was thinking, "Oh great, my first real surgery I get to scrub in and it's going to bleed out." My thinking seemed to be confirmed when we could not find the source of the blood and 1 liter approached 2. Finally, we found a broken vessel and ligated it. The rest of the surgery went fairly smoothly and I can add retracting and cutting suture to my resume'. The surgery was a couple hours long due to all the complications.
In the middle of that last paragraph with 5 minutes left for being on call, I was called in again by the surgeon. He said he could get someone else, but I couldn't pass up another opportunity to scrub in. This one was a pyometra (pus in the uterus). I arrived to finish scrubbing the patient. Gowning went much smoother this time. Just before the surgery, I confirmed that the point of the surgery was to just remove the uterus which is what we did. The surgery only lasted 20-30 minutes. Tomorrow we meet to write the surgery report and discharge - things I was asked to do, but won't learn until next year.
To put the cherry on the top of my GDV and pyometra filled cake, I got paid for all of this that I would have done for free. I love my job!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3/8ths a vet

I just finished my 3rd semester of vet school, and I am very excited for it to be over. Finals were ridiculous - I was only getting 3-5 hours of sleep each night. In the middle of the week, our public health exam was extremely difficult. I thought I could have easily missed 20-30 questions out of 110. I did slightly better than I expected, but then Christmas came early this week when I received a higher grade in the class than I expected. Overall, the gpa dropped, but not as much as I anticipated. I need to get my act together for next semester since I will be busier with work and other extracurriculars than this last semester.

Over break, I am working in the teaching hospital. My "interview" occurred when I was unlocking my bike and the surgery tech asked if I wanted a job, and I was officially hired during final week. Yesterday was orientation and it looks like I should learn a lot doing the treatments over the holidays. I've already learned where more things are and some of the paperwork to fill out. The most difficult part of orientation was the emergency part. The tech kept asking clinical questions that we should technically know, but my brain was turned off after finals. Hopefully, I'll learn a lot this next week and be more prepared for clinics next year. I'm also on-call somedays and will get to scrub in if an emergency comes in. SOOOO, I hate to say it, but I hope some emergencies happen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

10 More Days

Last week, we had a lab that was really cool. I learned how to fix a pneumothorax (not that hard), place a chest tube, intubate a dog, and how to theoretically do transtracheal washes and tracheostomies. I was excited because I thought I was going to learn how take a pen and stab a choking dog in the throat (tracheostomy) and open an airway like the heroes do in the movies with people all the time. However, the emergency vet said he's seen 1 or 2 in the past 7 years which means I'll never do it and doing a blunt dissection to place the tracheostomy tube is much more likely, though less exciting. It was easily the best part of this semester.

I also had my Pathology final today. It feels so good to have another class done. I have no more tutoring for the semester. Everything is coming to an end.... not fast enough though. Now, I have classes the rest of this week and then finals all next week. The pain is about to begin. Oh, how I missed the taking a final, having 22 hours to prepare for the next one, and then repeat 4 times - all the while getting less sleep as the week progresses. Welcome back Finals Week!!

I'm trying to start studying hardcore, but the motivation is hard to find. I was talking to a 3rd year the other day who had some encouraging words: he was saying how I didn't pay attention this semester because there wasn't much worth listening to (I totally agree). Then next semester, he said the classes will be interesting, but it will just be too hard to pay attention in class. Next semester's final schedule is supposed to be the worst too. At least, I have something to look forward to.

Time to get back to respiratory diseases with a little bacteriology sprinkled on top.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Break

Apparently, a month has flown by and I didn't realize it. I've just been focusing on surviving the semester and it sounds like next semester is going to be even worse. I was very happy when the Thanksgiving break finally arrived. It's a much needed break from classes and a time to reflect. I know I complain a lot, but I have so much to be thankful for and I need to remember these things occasionally:
1. Even though vet school is hard and I hate it at times, I was given a chance to experience it when many are denied each year. Hundreds of people would do anything for my seat in the class.
2. Gradewise, I have caught a lot of breaks over the last year and a half to maintain my current gpa.
3. I have met a lot of great people in my class that I wouldn't have had the chance to see these people everyday if I was accepted one of the 2 previous times I applied.
4. I have not had any major illness or injury. Many people in my class have been hit by cars, had the swine flu, or major family problems. I can't even imagine trying to study through that and keep up with the material. I am very thankful that I haven't experienced any of those so far.
5. I have a lot of family and friends that are extremely supportive. These people keep me sane and remind me that there is more to life than vet school and that it will all be over someday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Possibly Burnt Out

The epi exam last friday wasn't too bad, just extremely long. We now have pathology tomorrow and public health on thursday. I feel pretty good about pathology, but may just start public health tonight. You would think public health would be an easy A, but not with this professor. He is notorious for asking trivia questions and that's the same impression I got from his random lecturing. Granted, I rarely paid attention in the class, but in my defense I don't think it's physically possible to listen to an entire lecture of his.

However, I believe I am currently burnt out. My brain is not functioning right and I am extremely tired. It was hard focusing in any of our lectures today. I think I actually paid the most attention to the final lecture which was odd. We are currently in the middle of a test taking marathon too - I think it's 5 exams in 14 days. It's a terrible feeling knowing that I can't focus but I have to study. Well, it's naptime followed by some hopefully productive studying.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Third Semester

Well, I'm 5 weeks into my third semester and as you can tell by the lack of posts on this blog, it's been a little busy. This is very strange because we don't have many morning classes and you would think I could get a lot done. At least 2 days a week, we don't have class until 1 pm. However, I somehow find myself at a loss for time. The only extracurricular activities I have are tutoring physics 3 or 4 hours/week and working in the lab when I have time.

I just took our 3rd exam yesterday. It was pharm and it was bad. Here's a taste: dermatopharmacology covered 3 or 4 of the total 13 lectures and its material was 20 pages of text and 160+ powerpoint slides. That is way too much information to even attempt to remember!! Plus, we were learning about drugs to cure skin diseases that we haven't been taught. It would have been nice to know about the disease instead of memorizing that this drug cures these unknown diseases. All in all, it went ok for me, but I know a lot of people failed it which I completely understand. I feel it was an exam that everyone was on the same playing field no matter how much you studied - we were all guessing on most questions and in the end your score depended on how lucky your guesses were. But I noticed a difference in my class from people failing a test 1st semester compared to this one: It's almost like we don't care that much or we're just used to it or we know it will probably be curved. There were no tears and no one sulking. I only knew people did poorly from what they told me. I think we have officially been desensitized to our test scores.

Over the past 2 weeks, we had our first micro and toxicology exams. Micro went very well for me and I felt that I may have overprepared for it but it did pay off and I can take it a little easier on the next exams. However, the toxicology exam had my number. While I didn't do terrible, I would have liked to get a couple more questions correct in a class with only 2 exams. I actually did fairly well on the part that I didn't study much and have a chance to take twice.

I do feel like my test-taking skills are improving which is consistent with the professors and 4th years telling me that vet school makes you into a test-taking machine. I'm really started to see that conversion. I feel like I'm getting better answering questions that I don't necessarily know the correct answer. Another sign is that I don't think I will get upset as much when I fail. I understand that it will still hurt and shake confidence, but I don't think it would be as bad as last semester.

I have an epidemiology test on Friday which I'm not too scared of. The old tests seem straightforward and the professor is really cool. The downside is that I may have only paid attention to half of the lectures. I also want to start studying for path and public health exams next week. And somewhere in there, I want to work on finishing my first draft of my research article that I will be submitting to Veterinary Surgery for publishing. Lately, I've been getting calls from the new guy in the lab I did research in last summer so I will probably have to go in there and collect samples sometime this week. I think these are the reasons I feel busy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


After my 26 hour visit to Singapore, we went back to Japan. English is not the primary language over there so I didn't understand anything. It actually wasn't that hard to order food at restaurants since they either spoke some English there or had a menu in English. I went to a bunch of castles and temples which was cool.

One place had a bunch of sacred deer wandering around the grounds. Most of these deer were accustomed to people so you could pet and hang out with them. There were vendors selling crackers to feed the deer. As soon as you buy the crackers, you are swarmed by deer. I was trying to break off pieces and slowing feed them, but a couple were biting my shorts and I just wanted to get rid of the crackers and not feel like I was about to get mauled. One of the deer looked nasty because he was very dirty for an unknown reason with 1 antler and was coughing (tuberculosis?). There he is:

We visited an aquarium there which was actually a good size. The highlight there was getting to pet a walrus. At the end of the show, the walruses walked (not sure if that's the correct term for how they move) by the audience. I also learned that those animal shows at aquariums and zoos are not as interesting when you have no idea what the animal trainer is saying.

On, my last day in Japan we went to a safari park. This was one of the coolest experiences of my life. It was basically a drive-thru zoo and the animals were free to walk next to your car. Giraffes walked right next to our car and stopped traffic. Lions and tigers were also roaming freely. You weren't supposed to roll down windows, but it was necessary to get good pictures at times. At the park, they also had more zoo-like exhibits. Some highlights were the rats swimming with the hippos, feeding the squirrel monkeys and springhares, and petting the wallabies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I know school has started a few weeks ago, but this is my first chance to write something. I will try to catch up this blog in between studying over the next week. Warning: this is not directly vet school related. Anyways, my only vacation this summer was going to Japan, Singapore, and Cambodia for a couple weeks. Research and jobs ate up the rest of my summer.

This was my first international trip. To start off, I flew 13 hours to Japan where I had about an hour layover before I left for Singapore. This first flight was not that bad. The flight to Singapore was 7 hours and the last 3 hours were the hardest. I don't sleep well on planes and I was trying to stay awake so I could sleep when I got there at 2 AM. I was only in Singapore for 26 hours before flying back to Japan. We went to the Singapore Zoo during the day and a Night Safari that evening. The Zoo was cool - white tigers were the best and it's probably right up there with the San Diego Zoo. I was slightly disappointed because I had read about how they used natural barriers instead of fences for the animals and I expected to get amazing pictures of all the animals. Sadly, there were a lot more fences than I expected. The best part was being able to pet the lemurs - they were roaming in the bird and bat area that you walk through. One was just chilling while we were petting it so I decided to start palpating anatomical landmarks. So I started with the spine of the scapula and the borders going to the humerus and I stopped when it snapped at my sister-in-law. Lesson 1: Lemurs don't like to be palpated. Another lemur was walking across a log above the path when it stopped, looked my way, and appeared to be getting ready to leap. There was only this small branch right above me that it surely wasn't going to jump onto. Lesson 2: Lemurs will leap onto seemingly too small of branches. It jumped, landed on the branch and swung into me. It let me pet it as it sat on the branch so we were cool even though it smacked me with a branch.

The Night Safari was cool, but we couldn't take pictures. This was probably the place I read about with the natural barriers and very few fences. It was cool to see the animals do their thing in the dark as they were looking for food and wandering around. However, it was a lot of walking in one day and we didn't see all the animals because we were tired and couldn't find the rest of the path.

Overall, Singapore was cool because it was so clean and green. Granted, there's some harsh punishments for chewing gum, littering, and jay-walking. The Zoo was still really cool and filled up the whole day with no problem. It was a good start to my first international experience.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Summer is Ending

Oh man, about 3 more weeks until classes start again. This summer has flown by. It was filled with 2 research projects and teaching a physics class. Today is technically my last day for the research program. Tomorrow I fly to North Carolina for a symposium and a poster presentation.

I saw the comments from the students in physics class yesterday. That felt like sucker punch. I knew they could be bad because it was my research projects were my highest priority this summer, not to mention I'm a boring person and I feel bad that they had to listen to me at 8 AM. It was a learning lesson though. I don't think I will be as harsh with my teachers on evaluations anymore. It's kinda funny though because this whole summer I've been saying I'm not a teacher. I was asked to teach because I tutored students in undergrad. I can tutor; I can't teach.

Oh and last week I had to give a 10 minute presentation to the summer research students and mentors. It wasn't the best presentation ever. Then came the questions which I'm pretty sure I answered some completely wrong - my answers were the exact opposite of what I did in my project. My bad.

Even though today's my last day to go into the lab, I know I will be in there a lot more during this fall semester. There's some cool projects coming up, and I have to finish writing my paper and get it published (hopefully that's possible).

So tomorrow I go to NC and get back Sunday. Then I leave on Wednesday for my vacation to Japan, Singapore, and Cambodia. It's a 20 hr flight!! I was wondering what I'm going to do sitting in a chair for 20 hours - but hey that's kinda like studying for finals. This is going to be an experience since the only other country I've been to is Canada and I don't even think that counts. I really don't know what to expect, but it should be fun. The best part is that I get back the Sunday afternoon before classes start. Can you say jetlag? That will make for an interesting week of classes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Medical Shows

I do enjoy watching the medical shows on TV. They occasionally bring up diseases, pathogens, and other medical issues that we talk about in class. Personally, I like House and now Royal Pains on USA. There's something enjoyable about watching these unusual doctors treat their patients that always seem to figure out the case. However, the more I learn, the more problems I see in these shows.

I was just watching Royal Pains and Hank, the doctor, just performed a non-emergency surgery paying no attention to aseptic technique. He pulled out some latex gloves from a box and used those for surgery. It wouldn't be that hard for him to carry around some packs of sterile gloves and throw on a mask occasionally. I'll assume that the instruments were sterile. I get that it's TV, but that's my soapbox for the day and I still enjoy watching these shows.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Busy Month

My research project is winding down. Now it's on to writing the paper and trying to get it published. I don't know how hard that will be since our results weren't too significant.

A couple weeks ago I got to scrub in on my first surgery. It was an awesome experience! The hardest part was gowning and gloving, but it was good practice. It was a skin graft to cover a wound. During the surgery, all I really did was cut suture, but it was still fun to be right there and see everything. I was also doing anesthesia for some other surgeries. None of my dogs behaved according to the normals. One dog had low blood pressure throughout the surgery and another was breathing too fast. I still don't know what the ideal dog is supposed to be like under anesthesia. I've also been gaining a lot of experience bandaging wounds. I'm really excited about all of this because it gives me a chance to learn some of these things before I get to clinics.

The last few weeks were quite busy, but things are starting to slow down as projects come to a close. Sadly, this also means that the summer is ending and school will be starting up. I can't believe it's been about 2.5 months since finals. I had said I was going to review material from last semester and look at stuff for next semester but now of that has happened. I guess that's how it goes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brain Freeze

I went for a run the other day when it was actually hot in Michigan. I got back to my apartment and grabbed a gatorade from the fridge. I started drinking and immediately got a brain freeze, but I was so thirsty I kept drinking. I'm finding that doing research puts me in a different mindset - the detective mindset. I started wondering what causes a brain freeze. My hypothesis I came up with was that it was from a countercurrent heat exchange between the cold gatorade going down my esophagus and the internal or common carotid artery. The thought was that the blood going to the brain cooled down as it passed the cold water in the esophagus and made the brain feel cold even from a slight temperature change. It sounds good.

However, the next day I was talking to one of the doctors about it and ended up googling it. The real reason is that nerves in the roof of the mouth sense the coldness and go to the brain. Yes, people have done research on this stuff. Apparently, a brain freeze can be avoided by pressing the tongue to the hard palate and heating it back up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I am spending most of this summer doing summer research at school. My original thought of research was that it would be monotonous and boring and overall the worst experience ever. Once I started, it didn't seem that bad. There was a lot of pipetting, but I got to watch cells grow too.

Now, I like the idea of research - asking a question and then performing an experiment to see what answer you get. Sounds like some fun detective work. However, after my 21 day experiment failed a couple times and I still don't know if I'm going to get any meaningful results, research and I are not the best of friends. I'm not finding watching cells grow too exciting. I do basically the same stuff every day - pipetting, cleaning the lab, and taking pictures of my cells. So I have found research to be very monotonous and interesting at times.

My other job this summer is teaching a class of 7 students. I've only had a couple classes, but I'm starting to appreciate my teachers more. It takes a lot of work to put lectures together AND make them interesting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Veterinary Profession - Happy, Suicidal, or Both?

I found an interesting article a couple weeks ago about veterinarians in the work place. It begins with saying how vets have a high level of job satisfaction - above physicians. Then it talks about how also have a very high suicide rate - 4x the general population in the U.S. and 2x other health professions. I've always heard that vets have the highest suicide rate in Europe, but I never knew if that was true or not. The article says the possible reasons are job stress, lethal drug access, and acceptance of euthanasia. Finally, it says that vets are happy people with large animal vets being happier than small animal.

Conclusion: Veterinarians are a happy, suicidal group of people.

A Quarter of a Doctor

I am officially a quarter of a doctor!! I have survived Finals. Anatomy was funny because no one studied for it and our class average displays that. On Tuesday, we had Histology aka the worst test ever. The professor told us that some of the questions would have 10 choices and that would somehow make it easier for us. Yeah, it didn't. Oh and did I mention that it was cumulative over the whole year, not semester - year. Everyone walked out of that exam feeling like all our studying was a waste of time and we have no idea how we did. The questions were very specific for covering a year's material. I should find out my grade by Wednesday. Vet school teaches us patience and provides practice for handling disappointment. The best part is that the second years tell us that it only gets worse.
The rest of finals week seemed fairly easy. I guess a ridiculously hard histo exam makes me appreciate the regular exams. Histo made physiology, parasitology, and radiology seem like a walk in the park. It became extremely hard to study for those exams too. Studying all day for over a week is not fun. Now I get to wait for the grades to be posted.
I will say that I am going through vet school withdrawal. I don't know what I should be doing with all of this free time. I feel like I should be studying or doing homework.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This is Going to Hurt

I have finished a few classes - business, pharmacology, nutrition, and maybe some others. BUT I am far from finished. More finals start tomorrow. I am unprepared for all of these and don't have time to get prepared. Histology on Tuesday is the scariest because it covers the whole year. By year, I mean Fall and Spring semester material. It's a 2 credit class too!

Physiology is also cumulative for the semester and I need to do well on it too. Radiology is on Friday and it should be easy, but there's still a lot of material I won't have time to look at until Thursday evening.

I am truly learning that Finals week is all about my GPA sustaining the least amount of damage possible. The funny thing is that I was trying to prepare for this the last 3 weeks and I'm still not ready. Well, 5 more days of sleeping, eating, studying, taking exams and repeating the next day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Client Interviews

For a couple of our classes this semester, we have client interviews at the learning assessment center. The clients are all volunteer actors. I hate these interviews because they are very unrealistic at times, but I know it's good practice. We study cases and then are assigned a case to make a handout and visit with the client for 15 minutes. The biggest problem with these interviews is we never know where we are in the case and what the client knows. My problem today is that I focused more on the general problem, Addison's disease, than the actual case. The client asked what we had done to her dog, and all I could remember from the update on the exam room door was giving fluids. This is part of the unrealistic part because we never actually did anything in these case studies and we have a couple minutes to read the update on the door of what has happened in the case up to this point. We have 4 of these interviews this semester and I just finished my 3rd interview.
This last interview was unique in that the clients were told to act upset about the case. Some were crying; my client was just sad - the whole time. I had the plan that I would just inform the client that their dog was doing fine and Addison's disease is manageable. It didn't work as planned. I know I have a lot to learn about interacting with clients and am still waiting on my client's comments. It should be interesting if I came off compassionate enough - kinda don't think so.
The most painful part of these interviews is that they are recorded and we have to watch them and evaluate ourselves. My biggest lessons so far: Don't call a client by their first name even if you have no idea how to pronounce their last name. Butchering my second client's last name actually lightened the mood from the beginning. Also, admit that you don't know things and you have to check with the clinician. I did a lot of that this last time.
Next week I do a physical exam on a real animal and take a diet history. This should be interesting.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote from Professor

When asked about the difference between anxiety and depression, our Pharmacology professor said, "Anxiety is what you feel before a test and depression is what you fee after the test." So true.

Vet School has Consumed My Life and Made Me Sick

The first 2 weeks after Spring Break were nice and relaxing (Read "no tests"). Then tests started again. Then I'm expected to go into the lab every week to learn about the research I will be doing this summer. Then the weekly quizzes for 3 of our classes started again and Finals are just around the corner. Also, being sick and in vet school is no fun either. I thought I would be able to avoid it, but it finally got me. Once one person in the class gets sick, you know it's coming for you. After a few weeks of it spreading around the class, it got to me. When you don't even feel like being awake, it's hard to do any homework. I felt like my head was going to explode and had to sleep sitting up on my couch so everything could drain out of head.

I was talking to one of the surgery residents about what GPA I should aim for to eventually get a residency. She said a 3.9, maybe a 3.8 with good letters of recommendation. Who does that? Well, I better start making friends with faculty to get those letters of rec. I'm also finding out that failing a test makes it very difficult to pull up your GPA. I have 2 more tests and can only miss 5 questions to have a happy ending with Physiology. Not cool.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finally, No Tests

At least for a while... I finished the first round of tests and am now "relaxing" on Spring Break. I also have 2 weeks of classes without any tests. It's AMAZING!!

Two weeks ago we had our Pharmacology exam which I thought would be easy because I knew all of the equations that they said we needed to know. However, I guess they were just kidding about those equations because it turned out that we didn't need to know them after all. Needless to say, the test wasn't exactly what I expected. I did alright, but would have liked to do much better...Story of this semester.

Last week, we had Anatomy and Physiology. Yes, we had a Phys exam the Friday before Spring Break. Fun. Since I learned from the first exam that I'm no good at Phys, I spent most of the previous week studying Phys instead of Anatomy. It's nice that I can learn Anatomy as it's taught and don't have to spend too much time studying around exams. (I suppose I could learn other subjects as they are taught, but I haven't figured that out yet.) I'm still waiting for the scores from Phys - not sure why this is taking so long. I know a lot of people were unhappy with one professor's questions so hopefully there will be a curve or something. I need all the help I can get in that class.

Spring Break is halfway over and so far so good. I got into the routine of doing homework in the mornings and hanging out with friends in the evening. I'm hoping to keep myself in school mode while getting ahead in some classes. I started reading Cardiology as that's the next section in Phys, finishing Nutrition modules (, Anatomy, and research articles. I wish I was back in high school or at least undergrad when I had so much more time.

So much to read, so little time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to Pay Attention in Class

After my first Physiology exam, I knew I had to start paying attention in class and reviewing on a regular basis. This semester we have computers in the lecture hall which means playing Freecell, Solitaire, and checking my email. These are all very tempting to do during lecture, and I needed a way to force myself to pay attention. Here's the solution: the course moderator has started to sit directly behind me so I really can't check my email and play games anymore. I think I'm getting a lot more out of lecture. I've started googling things that are pertinent to the lecture and find out how this information relates to the actual clinical cases. I'm not sure if the moderator totally approves of this. He just asked me today if I do it for all my lectures so I don't think he minds.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Downs and Ups

This week we had our first tests in Physiology and Parasitology. They say everyone fails at least one test and this was the week for me. I felt prepared for the Physiology exam, but apparently I was wrong. I hate tests that have less than 40 questions since the margin for error becomes quite small. There were 33 questions and too many that I could only eliminate to 2-3 choices. Most of my guesses ended up being wrong, I changed answers (always go with your first gut feeling, I know I know), and one I was just too stubborn to put the right answer. I must say that if there was ever a test to fail, this may have been the best one. It's only worth 16% of my overall grade so I can still somewhat recover from it...hopefully.

Let me tell you that failing this test rocked my world. Any confidence I may have had before Tuesday was wiped out. It was especially hard because it was Physiology which is our biggest class this semester. I was starting to think that this semester may be easier than last, but I was wrong about that too. Physiology!! It's basically the foundation of all of medicine!! It was hard to study and feel prepared for my Parasitology exam today after that.

But thankfully I did well on today's exam. I am just waiting for the results from the essay portion. Taking Parasitology in undergrad is definitely helping now. Today's exam has given me some confidence back, but I'm still shaken from Tuesday.

I have a friend that I started studying with last semester, and it's funny because we excel in classes that the other one does not. I failed Physiology when they did very well, and I did well in Parasitology today when they did very bad. I highly recommend for future vet students to find someone whose strengths are your weaknesses. Studying together usually helps both as one person can explain what the other doesn't understand. It didn't work out this time though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Test of 2nd Semester

I've almost made it through the first 3 weeks of my 2nd semester. This Friday we have our first anatomy exam. It's not supposed to be that difficult, but it's strange feeling prepared a few days before the exam. I don't feel like studying anymore, not because of exhaustion, but because it feels like we already learned this material in the dogs and it's not that different in the cows and horses.

Also, we had a project to make a budget for our first year out of school. It was time-consuming, but it also put things in perspective. If I do an internship, making $28,000/yr., I will be over my budget by $150 each month. I kinda expected it would be tight, but I didn't actually know I would be in the red. Oh well, what's a few more years living poor and a little more debt.

Feeling like a Professional

Something the faculty has always done since the beginning of the year is refer to us students as professionals, veterinarians, and colleagues. These are all terms that I don't feel apply to me yet. I am a veterinary STUDENT still aspiring to be a veterinarian. Last Friday was the Michigan Veterinary Conference in Lansing. All of our classes are canceled and we are expected to attend the conference. I went to it and it was probably the first time I started feeling a little professional. I was surrounded by veterinarians and at a professional statewide conference listening to presentations where I understood every other word if I was lucky. I couldn't help feel a little out of place and at the same time like a professional seeing my future. I am slowly starting to feel a little more professional every day, but I think the feeling of being a veterinarian will take a some more time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I'm working on my nutrition homework for this semester which is completing "Daily Nutrition Matters" on . It's a very good educational module that anyone interested in nutrition or has questions should check out. Anyways, I was thinking about what one of my friends said to me earlier this week. This person has become very involved in rescuing dogs (a good thing), but they have also become an "expert" in nutrition too (a bad thing). Now I think it's a good thing to be informed, but it's a bad thing when you have been wrongly informed.

Pre-Disclaimer: This is mostly my opinion combined with what I am just starting to learn. In no way am I saying I am an expert in this area. I would talk to your vet or do your own research.

This person was very pro-natural foods. My only problem with natural foods is that they are usually very expensive. I also don't know the exact benefit of these foods - Is my dog going to be healthy because he kinda already is without the "natural" food? OR Is my dog going to live drastically longer? I doubt it. This person did not like Hill's Science Diet, which is what I feed my dog, because it contains by-product. Reading about nutrition, I learned that there's a difference between ingredient (what is put in the food) and nutrient (what is absorbed by the animal). To me, something like chicken by-product that contains bones and organs is a good thing for a dog as it would provide a wider range of nutrients than just the meat. It also seems more natural as a wild dog would probably eat the entire chicken and not just the breast.

Another comment was made about some canned food that was 95% protein. That's nice and all, but a balanced diet for a dog only contains about 22% on a DM basis. Where's the fat and carbs and the vitamins they carry? I don't know, but maybe this person was adding other foods to this and making a complete diet - hopefully. People that cook for their dogs should be careful and know all the needs of their dog and be sure they are providing them - a grilled steak probably won't cut it. To me, it seems like too much work to calculate the proper proportions of human food to cook up for my dog while not destroying the amino acids when someone has already done it for me.

I think we as pet owners need to be careful that we remember that our dog is a dog, not a human, and that it probably doesn't need to be put on the Atkins Diet. Again, my nutrition course hasn't even officially began and I still have a lot to learn - Believe at your own risk.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter Break

We had a whole month for a break between semesters instead of the usual 3 weeks and it was a much needed break. I spent 2 weeks at home working and the other 2 weeks visiting a friend in Oklahoma, which is not as exciting as it sounds. The trip south was nice and relaxing. We did a lot of hiking in the "mountains" down there where we saw armadillos, bison, and longhorn steers. On the plane ride home, I sat next to an older lady that was telling me about how her 2 children are vets. It's really cool to meet people like this and hear about what my future life may be like. From talking to people, I am also realizing that just about everyone either knows a vet as a friend or is related to someone that is a vet. I always pictured this career as a small profession relative to other professions, but it's not seeming like that's true.

But now I'm trying to get back into school mode as classes start on Monday. I can tell that the semester because my school email is starting to get bombarded with emails from classmates and professors. We actually have some homework already to do before the first day of classes.

During break, I tried to read some of my Physiology book and do some of our Nutrition homework. Hopefully, this will lighten my load a little bit during the semester. I was able to somewhat understand Neurology material that we were supposed to learn last semester. I guess that's what these breaks are for - catching up on material that we get behind on.