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Third Year

I am writing this blog after enjoying a much needed weekend of relaxation.  I am in the sixth week of school as a 3rd year student and am realizing that this year is quite different than the two prior years.  In one word I would describe it as "hectic."  Most of our days are spent in class from 8-5, and some days tend to go beyond that as we are now performing surgeries one day a week.  While this schedule leaves much less time for studying in the evenings, I feel as if I am getting a better taste of what 4th year will be like and am enjoying being one step closer to being a veterinarian.  For the first time, professors have begun saying in class, "be sure to know this, you'll probably see it on board exams."  While that line can be a terrifying thing to hear, it also helps me realize that we are not too far away from that point in our education.

One of the best parts about 3rd year is that you get to begin taking elective classes.  These classes are opportunities to learn in greater detail areas of veterinary medicine that may be a completely new subject, or areas that one wishes to pursue in greater depth upon graduation.  I am taking small and exotic animal electives this year and have loved the one-on-one interaction these smaller classes afford.  Many professors in elective courses want students to soak up all the information and be more concerned with learning the concepts rather than worrying about exams and grades.  Don't get me wrong, some electives do have difficult tests, but most of these professors offer a more relaxed approach.

I am in an elective called "Pocket Pets," which has been a pretty eye-opening course.  We go through the various lab animal species (such as mice, rabbits and gerbils) and learn about the many diseases and special husbandry considerations for each species.  You can imagine the large demand for lab animal veterinarians when there are approximately 13 million mice involved in animal research!  In this course, we have learned the importance of veterinarians in keeping these research animals healthy and how that also translates into the care of "pocket pets" that are kept as pets in the home.  It is interesting how different (and similar) these creatures are to our usual domestic animals.  Did you know that in the wild, gerbils don't always have to drink water, and that they can get enough moisture from their food?  (Disclaimer:  give your gerbil pets water, they need it because their diet is different!)  Did you know that a Jack Rabbit isn't actually a rabbit?  It's a hare!  Did you know that Chinese hamsters can get diabetes?  These facts can make for very interesting conversation starters!

I am looking forward to the many more interesting bits of knowledge I will gain in the elective courses like dentistry, emergency medicine and avian medicine.  Of course, this is why most veterinary students are here­­-to learn about the many wonderful creatures on this earth (both large and pocket sized) and how to give them the best veterinary care possible.