A Research Opportunity

As usual, this semester has been busy, busy, busy. We second years have had four weeks of Monday and Friday exams and have just returned to College Station after our spring break vacation. I went home to Austin for several days during the break to visit friends and family. Upon returning to vet school, my mind cannot help but wander to this summer and everything it has in store.

In the midst of our exams, I found out that I had been accepted into the Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program (VMSRTP) here at Texas A&M. The VMSRTP allows veterinary students to conduct full-time research under the direction of a faculty mentor of their choosing. During their time in the program, students will not only conduct research, but also go on field trips, attend lunch seminars, and present their findings at a research conference. This 13-week long program provides first and second year veterinary students with little to no prior research experience a chance at hands-on learning from experts in a large variety of fields of veterinary study.

My project will consist of looking into treatment options for a disease in Texas rortoises under the supervision of Dr. Jill Heatley.  I am especially interested in this project because of the scarcity of research in exotic animal medicine. After attending Exotics Con and searching for at least 20 references to use as a starting point for our research, I realized just how few articles there are about exotic animal medicine. This is especially true for reptiles. Once I receive my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), I want to add to scientific literature about reptile medicine as well as other areas of veterinary medicine.

But, in order to get that DVM, I must persevere to the end of the semester. At least I know that my summer will be full of learning and fun!

The New Testing Schedule

With one month of school and three exams behind me, I am finally starting to settle into my second year of vet school at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. The transition between summer and school can be difficult for many students. It was made even more difficult for me thanks in part to missing three days of class for Exotics Con, an annual conference for avian, exotic mammal, and reptile practitioners. Thank goodness for the new testing schedule the College of Veterinary Medicine put in place this year.

Those of you who read our blogs regularly have probably noticed that every once and a while the vet students had what some might call “hell weeks.” Those times when we had three tests, a paper, two quizzes, a worksheet, and a Fightin’ Texas Aggie home football game all in one week. The only thing we had to look forward to was usually the quite week that followed. While it was nice to have a week with no exams, many would agree that the stress of multiple tests in one week all in a row wasn’t worth it.

After talking to students and attending a conference on student wellness, the decision was made to incorporate an assigned test block into the first and second year’s schedules. The new second year schedule only allows one exam on Friday afternoons. Even though that means I will have an exam almost every Friday, I couldn’t be happier. Instead of frantically memorizing material, I now have the time to sit down and truly learn the information that is so vital to my future career. The new schedule not only permits students more time to study and really absorb the information, but also allows them to relax more and spend time on hobbies outside of academics. I am an avid Texas A&M football fan. With this new testing schedule, I will be able to go to all the home games and even a few away games as well. The balance this new schedule brings will allow us to not only be better veterinary students, but happier and healthier as well.