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Keeping Swimming via Wet Labs

Nantika DuTime flies quickly—I feel that this is so true. One-third of the fall semester has already passed. When my day starts, usually at 6 a.m., it does not stop until midnight or as late as 2 a.m. As Dory, from the movie “Finding Nemo,” says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”...that’s each day for me. It seems tiring, but certainly not boring, because along the way I am learning many different aspects of medicine for different species.

As a second-year veterinary student at Texas A&M, there is still a lot to learn until I become a veterinarian. With little clinical experiences prior to applying to the program, I felt like a deer in front of the headlights. But soon enough, I learned that opportunities are always around, not only in the clinical skill labs provided in school curriculum, but I can also easily get clinical experiences outside of the classroom. The more I practice my clinical skills, the more confident I will be when I graduate.

One of the ways I receive hands-on experience during the semester is through wet labs. A wet lab is set up by the student organizations, of which there are more than 20 at the CVM, including student chapters of the national associations for Equine Practitioners, Bovine Practitioners, and Internal Medicine, and Emergency and Critical Care; groups focusing on Laboratory Animal Medicine and Zoo, Exotics, Wildlife Medicine; and many others. These wet labs are scheduled for the weekend or after-school hours, and each is supervised and taught by board-certified veterinarians who are specialized in the field being covered in the wet lab. Last weekend, I participated in a dermatology wet lab. Dr. Alison Diesel, who is board certified in veterinary dermatology, came to teach us to perform sample collection and diagnostic evaluations for ear cytology, skin scrapes, and impression smear cytology in dogs and cats.

Last year, I participated in five web labs. First, during an internal medicine wet lab, I learned to perform centeses (thoracocentesis, abdominocentesis, and arthrocentesis), esophageal tube placement, lymph nodes aspiration, and organ and skin biopsy (aspiration and punch biopsy). Second, during a lab animal wet lab, I learned to handle and restrain the rats, as well as to administer drugs and medications. Third, during a Surgery Club wet lab, I learned how to scrub, gown, glove, wrap packs, and suturing techniques and patterns. Fourth, in a cytology clinical pathology wet lab, hosted by the Pathology Club, I learned to look for abnormal cells under microscopes, which prepared me for when I take a pathology class this year. My last wet lab last year was the small and large animal dentistry, hosted by the Dental Club, in which I learned to determine the age of dogs and horses and how to perform canine teeth cleanings.

I recently signed up for an emergency and critical care wet lab. In it, I will get a chance to practice techniques such as temporary tracheostomys and watch the clinician demonstrate open-chest CPR. This year the Internal Medicine group also will offer an equine echocardiogram wet lab.

Participating in these wet labs allows me to explore more about veterinary medicine; it is a part of my veterinary school journey I really enjoy, a part that helps me to “keep swimming."