LIVE ANIMALS, and Why They Keep Us Sane

There are days/weeks/months when it really can be hard to “find the joy,” as we say here at the vet school. It can be a struggle to see through the mountain of assignments, tests, quizzes, and looming finals dates. It can be difficult to find something that really does make you joyful, because, though we all love to be here, and we all want that coveted DVM after our name, often, school is the place we go to Stress. Out. This means that when there are opportunities to find the joy during the school day, things are that much more enjoyable! Recently I had a rotation for my correlates course that required us to head out to Aggieland Humane Society and perform a physical exam and a couple of vaccinations on some cats that were housed there. My group of three had two tomcats and one pregnant queen. Though we all had something to do with an exam of all three cats, each of us was “assigned” to one specifically. I was assigned the pregnant queen. And, let me tell you, after all of the embryo and reproductive physiology we’ve learned this semester, I couldn’t have been more excited to see an animal inside whom all these complicated processes were occurring. This particular kitty was only about 7-10 days from delivery, and we were able to feel all the bony angles of the kittens within her when we palpated her abdomen. It was pretty amazing to say the least.

In the time I’ve been a student here, I’ve also come to cherish even more the times I have with live animals at home. My puppy dog, Lulu, is always happy to see me when I get home, and even though she’s a little crazy, she certainly keeps me sane on the days when I drive home dreading the amount of work that I have to do when I get there. Lulu also served as my “palpation quiz dog” last semester when we had to bring volunteer animals for our small animal anatomy class. Currently, she is scratching her booty on the carpet by rolling upside down and making hilarious faces at me. It is these animals I look to when I need to find the joy. These experiences that I crave when I need to be reminded why I want to be a veterinarian in the first place. We need live animals, especially in this first semester, and we need animals in the world in general. Without these adorable little buggers, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are, as determined as we are, or as fulfilled as we are in our jobs when we finally do graduate and enter the working world. I love animals, and sometimes a reminder is all I need to keep me sane and motivated. These are the lives that I advocate for and the reason I am doing the work that I do. I am a lucky, lucky girl to be where I am today, no matter the amount of work it takes.

How long is a semester, really?

It’s been an entire semester since I started my veterinary career as a student at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. It feels like it’s been about three years. The difference between my attitude, confidence, and knowledge after just a few months is tremendous! Admittedly, things were difficult last semester. As someone who came into the vet school class having not been a science major in undergrad, I had a lot of adjusting to do. For one, I wasn’t used to taking 18+ hours worth of straight science classes in any one semester. I wasn’t used to having to study for hours and hours, or to having two, three, or four, tests and quizzes in a week’s span (sometimes two weeks, if we were lucky). I wasn’t used to treating life as cumulative, rather than simply final exams. So, yes, it was a struggle. But, I made it through stronger and more knowledgeable than ever.

Vet school is truly a life-changing experience. I learned so much about the things I can handle as a student, as a future veterinarian, and as a person in general. I gained confidence from knowing that I got through an entire semester of 8-to-5 classes and some of the most difficult tests I have ever taken. Now, I feel like I can take on this semester without the fear of “newness” that accompanied last semester, without the anxiety about “change” that came with starting at a new school, in a new town, and making new friends. Honestly, I missed Texas Tech (my undergraduate school) more that first semester than I experienced Texas A&M. I left my friends and roommate and fiancé in Lubbock, Texas. Of course I was going to miss it, but you know, all those things are still there. I still have those friends, that roommate is a going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding this summer, and I get to marry that wonderful man who is about to graduate from Texas Tech. I have learned so much, and probably by the end of this, I’ll have forgotten more than I will ever learn, but it is so worth it. I feel like I’ve lived another life having finished only a single semester, and I can’t even imagine the opportunities that await me in the coming years! I survived, I am surviving, and now, in vet school, I have finally figured out how to thrive. Prospective students—this is something you can do. Current students—you are amazing and intelligent and talented! It’s go time, 2015. Vet school is going to have to survive me now.