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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

It's unbelievable how fast time has flown! It truly feels like it was just yesterday I was submitting my application to vet school, checking and double checking to make sure all of my information and essays were in order. Honestly, the 3 months I had to wait for a decision letter feels longer than the 3 years I've been here! I can't believe it, but here I am, preparing to submit my tracking request and 4th year clinical electives!

As most of you know, the 4th year of veterinary school at Texas A&M is very different from the first three years. The most alarming change is the lack of a summer break! That's right, 3rd year will end on a Friday, and 4th year clinical rotations will begin on the following Monday. In one week, I will officially submit my request to track a small animal career choice. Other options include large animal, mixed animal (half large and half small), and alternative practice. Up to this point, we are trained and educated on all domestic species, large and small, from basic anatomy to complex pathophysiology. However, for 4th year, we are able to hone our focus in on what we see ourselves practicing in the future. If horses and/or cattle are your expertise, you will choose large animal. If you're like some of my friends and love ALL aspects of veterinary medicine, you will track mixed-animal. What if you're interested in a unique area of veterinary medicine, like research or public health? That's great! You will choose the alternative track and a specialized curriculum will be adjusted for you.

The 4th year consists of 22 weeks of "core curriculum" rotations; no matter what you decide to track, you will be required to rotate through these 11, 2-week blocks consisting of large animal community practice, small animal primary care, large animal emergency, small animal emergency, etc. These blocks are your small and large animal foundation and help prepare us for our national board exam. The additional 28 weeks will be focused on your career choice, and you will rotate through all of the services in the veterinary teaching hospital (internal medicine, radiology, surgery, etc.). For example, since I am tracking a small animal career, I will go through the "core curriculum" rotations (which includes some large animal rotations), but then I will spend the other 26 weeks rotating through every single one of the specialty services offered in the small animal hospital. If you've added that up already, I bet you're wondering about those extra 2 weeks - that's our much needed vacation!

Although 4th year is 50 challenging weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, to all vet students, it is a faint light at the end of a tunnel.