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Being Selective About Third-Year Electives

Mikaela StanislavAs a third-year veterinary student, I have been able to choose the electives that I take; after two years of taking a pre-selected curriculum, this is an amazing experience! I get to pick what I want to learn, which makes learning all the more fun.

This semester, I have completed an oncology elective. Oncology is a big part of veterinary medicine because 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 years will develop cancer. Through this elective, I was able to learn about current research being done that correlates human cancers and cancer in dogs, because it is very similar and advances in each field can help each other.

The elective I just finished is dermatology. This is also a large part of veterinary medicine, as many pets have issues with skin or allergies, especially living in Texas. In dermatology, we learned how to identify different infections, causes, and how to treat common dermatologic problems. Did you know that dogs can have food allergies, too? It's a lot harder to find out if dogs have a food issue because they can't tell you they feel bad after eating something or if they eat something that causes them to itch.

The next elective I will be taking is clinical pathology, in which I will learn all about how to interpret blood work and understand what the values mean. I’ll be able to tell if a dog is anemic, if it has liver issues, or even if it’s a diabetic. Clinical pathology is a skill that we will be using every day in practice. Interpreting blood and urine are common practices and taking this elective will hopefully help me feel more comfortable with this aspect of veterinary medicine.

Overall, all of my classes have been good, but it’s even more exciting to get to decide what you learn!