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Bearcats 101

Do you know what a bearcat is? Of course you do. I, on the other hand, had absolutely no idea before I went to pathology rounds last week. Allow me to paint a picture for you; pathology rounds consist of six 4th year veterinary students, six DVM clinical residents training to become board certified pathologists, multiple already-board certified pathologists, various instructors and fellow classmates in a big, cold room geared up for a fast-paced Q&A case-study session over the cause and nature of disease - slightly intimidating to say the least. All veterinary students are encouraged to join, and I am currently taking pathology, so I decided I'd go and listen, keep my mouth shut and learn a few things…it would be great!

An interesting case comes in and a 4th year student begins her presentation, "A female bearcat came into the hospital this weekend for…" She loses me. Excuse me, did you say Bear Cat? She finishes and presents an abnormally "large" kidney from said Bear Cat. I confidently raise my hand, ready to impress 4th year students, residents and pathologists around, and ask, "On average, how much do these cats weigh?" I thought it was a great question. If an enlarged cat kidney is shown, I'm positive everyone in the room would love to know how much that cat weighed, so we had something to compare, right? I mean, we're talking about a bear-sized cat! That kidney isn't so impressive.

Apparently I was absent on bearcat lecture day.

A deafening silence fills the room, and the 4th year student, along with our entire pathology audience, looks at me as if I'm joking. There's an awkward pause, and a resident chimes in, "…Cat? No. It's a BEARcat." I wittingly play along, "OH! Of course." Puzzled and slightly embarrassed, I look at the ground and hope everyone directs their attention on something else. Nope. It's still on me. Another resident delivers, "It's actually nothing like a cat at all." I can literally feel myself melting into a puddle at this point. Great…now the upperclassmen, pathologists, residents and clinical professors probably know me as That Guy. I can hear it now, when I get to that rotation, "Hey! You're That Guy who thought a bearcat was actually a cat when, in fact, it's nothing like a cat at all and you couldn't have been more wrong in front of so many intelligent people. That's you, right?" Yep. That's me.

Honestly, it's not as bad as I make it sound - I still go every week and continue to have a great time in pathology rounds! The clinicians, residents, and 4th year students are always willing to take time out of their busy day to help you understand difficult cases. My favorite thing about vet school is having the privilege to learn so much outside of the classroom. Various rounds with clinicians and residents, hands-on instructional labs, and animal related community service events are just a few examples where veterinary students are reminded of why we're here.

But, seriously, wouldn't you think a bearcat was, like, a cat? No, just me? Okay.