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Do Vet Students Have Time to Do Anything?

One of the questions that I commonly get asked as a tour guide is "Do vet students have time to do anything other than study and take tests?"  Well, yes and no.  We are in class from roughly 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, but some lucky students have shorter variations of that schedule.  Then we all go home and study.  This might sound rough, but it's what we need to do to become great veterinarians.  I would say about 90 to 95% of the vet students in this school have dreamed of becoming veterinarians since they were little kids, and all of us have worked hard to get to where we are now.  We have a passion for working with animals and a devotion to helping both animals and their humans.  But as with any "job" it's easy to get overwhelmed.  This is why each and every veterinary student finds a way to let loose and enjoy themselves on a regular basis.  Personally, I have two handsome cats at home to play with - well, one plays fetch and one just cuddles and looks pretty (but that's just fine with me).   I take dance classes at the student recreation center and make time on the weekends to practice dancing.  I even perform at a few cultural events around town.   And I love just going for walks, going to the movies, and hanging out with friends.  I spent last night (Halloween) handing out candy to the kids in the neighborhood, watching sappy love movies with friends, and trying to prevent a basset hound from gnawing on a dachshund's head - friendly gnawing, but still slobbery.

And now that I have you thinking that that veterinary school is "all work and no play," you'd be surprised to learn that we get to interact with animals regularly.  For example, one of my electives is Exotic Hoofstock Management, where we learn about all the different hooved species, how they are all different, and how to manage them from a veterinary standpoint.  As part of this class, we visited the Houston Zoo two weeks ago, and watched their veterinarians perform TB testing, blood draws, and vaccinations on both a Kudu and a Bongo.  We were also introduced to the new giraffe exhibit and got to meet all of the giraffes. Imagine scratching a 15 foot tall giraffe on the head and letting her nibble at your shoes while learning about how the zookeepers take care of the entire group on a daily basis.  During lunch, we enjoyed two lectures, one on chimpanzees and one on sun bears.  The day ended with watching the zoo's new baby Asian elephant, Tupelo, take a bath in her water bowl.  This past week, we learned how to de-antler deer and actually got to work on one of the Wildlife Center's white tail deer.

Another amazing thing about veterinary school is the unique opportunities that randomly occur.  One day after a lecture on trimming cattle hooves, we were given the chance to stay after class and practice on two dairy cows that needed a hoof trimming.  In less than an hour, ten of us went from just seeing pictures to interacting with animals and getting our hands dirty.  Another day, after learning several basic cattle skills, we had a little free time and went to visit the neighboring research goats.  About 12 kids (baby goats) had recently been born, and we just had to interact with them.  We had an impromptu lecture on goat herd management and how to do a quick physical exam on a goat.

Veterinary school is full of challenges and opportunities.  We make the most of each day - whether it's through learning and studying, or goofing off and sleeping.