One Down, Three to Go

Caitlin with her friends
Caitlin (far right) and her friends celebrate the milestone of completing their first year of veterinary school.

I cannot believe that I am writing this, but I just finished my first year of veterinary school! I have spent so much of my life anticipating vet school that it was really weird to be done with the first year and considered a “second-year” because I had not spent any time thinking about how that would feel.

It was a year full of adjustment and learning a lot, but my first year of vet school was a blast. Something that is really neat is that A&M revamped their curriculum, so we had so many hands-on experiences this year. My first semester, I learned how to do physical exams on dogs, horses, and cattle, and then we got to practice them again that semester. I liked it so much because working with the animals kept reminding me of the reasons I wanted to be a vet amidst all of the difficult classes.

This semester, we learned how to perform physical exams on tortoises, rabbits, and pigeons, exams I never thought that I would do or learn. One of the most useful skills that we learned (in my opinion) is how to work an ultrasound machine. I have probably put my hands on an ultrasound probe and worked with the machine at least four times; this is a skill that I know that I will need in practice, so it is great to start learning it now. I also have had time to become acquainted with the orientation of the patient when they receive an ultrasound, and the models that they let us practice on were really helpful in being able to figure out how to hold the probe and the types of hand motions needed to move it.

With the new curriculum, our first year in the classroom also looked a little different. Our first semester, we took the typical classes like anatomy and physiology and immunology, but we also had a class called “Integrated Animal Care” in which we learned from the A&M clinicians how best to treat a normal animal. We learned about animal behavior, vaccine schedules, and how best to care for neonates (a newborn animal), things that I know I will need and use when I graduate in three years.

My favorite part about my first year of vet school has been all of the communication practice that we have received. We have worked with actors who simulate a veterinarian-patient interaction, and it has been so helpful to start these encounters early. We learn from professors who know a lot about communicating well, and it is cool to see how it can even affect my day to day life as I listen and try to communicate well with people.

My first year was one of growth and adjustment, but it makes me all the more excited to continue with the program and learn how to be the best vet that I can be. I truly believe that I will learn about being a great vet who practices good medicine, and I cannot wait to continue with that as a second year in the fall.