One of the best parts about third year is our ability to take electives. First and second year we take the same classes, no matter what our main interests are, and then third year we have the opportunities to take electives in addition to our core classes.
I am currently in the camelids elective, and it is one of my favorite electives that I have taken so far. Our camelids class focuses mainly on llamas and alpacas. Although camels are also a part of this group, they aren’t as common in Texas. The class focuses on the veterinary care, husbandry, and behavior of camelids and also involves several hands-on opportunities so that we can practice our handling skills.
A few fun facts about camelids:
1. Llamas and alpacas are originally from South America.
2. Llamas are taller, have less hair on their face, and have ears that are shaped like bananas. Alpacas are shorter, have fuzzier faces, and smaller ears.
3. A baby llama or alpaca is called a cria (pronounced cree-yah).
4. In Texas, llamas and alpacas are very prone to overheating, and we combat that by shearing them in the spring.
5. Although they can kick like a horse, their main defense mechanism is spitting. They spit partially digested food and it smells terrible!
Being exposed to many different species has been one of my favorite parts of veterinary school, and I can’t wait to work on these fun creatures when I get out into practice!
There was a huge flood of third-year veterinary students to the mailboxes on Monday because of one little blue piece of paper: our fourth year schedules. These schedules are all of the rotations that we will have for the entirety of our fourth year, from the week we start fourth year to our last week of fourth year before we graduate.
As fourth years, we spend an entire calendar year in the small and large animal hospitals actually working with the clinicians, residents, and interns and really learning how to be doctors. We are responsible for our patients and work with them to come up with treatment plans for each animal. Students have the options of tracking large, small, mixed, or alternative, and our rotations reflect that. For example, if you track large, you have rotations primarily in the large animal hospital; if you track small, you have rotations primarily in the small animal hospital. We also have certain required rotations, such as anesthesia, the Houston SPCA rotation, and radiology.
This is an incredibly exciting time for all of us third years—it really marks the beginning of the end. In just a few short months, we will be moving out of the classroom and into the clinics, and we will really begin to put together all of the topics we have learned in the last three years. I’m equal parts excited and nervous, but right now the excitement is definitely winning. It’s really exciting to finally begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel!!!