Food Animal Fun

Catherine T.In February, Texas A&M hosted its annual Food Animal Wet Lab, an event designed to give students exposure to all sorts of food animal medicine techniques and topics we don’t always cover in enough detail in class.

Because my main career focus is working with beef cattle and other livestock after graduation, this event is always a great time for me! I learned about castrating calves, giving epidurals, and performing C-sections, all of which can be the bread-and-butter of a food animal vet’s practice.

Even though I’ve known I want to practice in this field of veterinary medicine for a long time, it’s fun to see my classmates from all walks of life getting involved, too. Even if you plan to be a bird vet or a radiologist, who doesn’t love to play around with animals and learn from our knowledgeable and entertaining professors? Plus, you never know when a great experience may change your career goals for the better (and, yes, that is a shameless plug for food animal medicine).

While I had a lot of fun participating in the different wet labs, one of the most interesting parts of the day was meeting other students from different schools and even different states. I was able to work with and help teach several pre-vet students from West Texas and was excited to see their passion for this kind of work so early in their school careers.

I also got to learn alongside veterinary students from Oklahoma and Kansas and share interesting tidbits about how our curriculum and veterinary experiences differ. I also got to learn some things that make me grateful that I go to Texas A&M, such as the fact that it was 8 degrees in Manhattan, Kansas, the day before the wet lab.

In my upcoming fourth year of vet school, I’ll have the opportunity to travel around Texas and to California and Colorado on externships. I’m excited for the opportunity to venture out from College Station and meet other students and veterinarians from different backgrounds.

The great diversity of veterinary medicine, and everyone’s unique experiences and perspective, is just one of the things that I love so much about this profession!

(Almost) Halfway There!

As a second-year veterinary student, I’m rapidly approaching the halfway mark in my veterinary education. In between the busy schedules and exams this semester, there’s been a lot of cause for celebration in my class! Just a couple weeks ago, many of my classmates received their Aggie Rings with their family and friends by their side. Although I already received my ring as an undergraduate at A&M, I remember how exciting it was to earn that ring and feel like a full member of the Aggie family. Now, we all have a physical reminder on our hand of all the hard work we’ve put into our education and the bonds of tradition that tie us to this school forever.

In another exciting development, my class recently selected their electives for the upcoming school year. The third year of vet school is unique because it allows students to build their class schedules around their individual career goals, and it focuses more on the clinical application of everything we learn. We’re encouraged to select a “track” of interest—which can focus on small animal, equine, food animal, or exotic animal medicine—and choose our electives accordingly. If you’re unsure of your future career path, or just want to learn more about a subject, you’re free to take any class that interests you! I don’t know my exact elective schedule yet, but I’m excited for all the possibilities and the opportunity to learn more about what I love.

Now, my classmates and I are looking forward to our White Coat Ceremony, an event during which we celebrate our halfway point and are presented with a white coat to recognize the progress we’ve made. It’s also an excellent opportunity to thank all of the people who have helped us get this far by recognizing how instrumental they are to our success. Whether it’s your parents, significant other, professors, or friends, no one goes through vet school alone. The White Coat Ceremony is an opportunity to bring all of those important people together under one roof to share in the excitement as we progress into our third year.

Needless to say, this has been a very busy semester, with a lot of exciting events and important changes. It’s hard to believe I’m (almost) halfway done, but I’m eager to see what this next year has in store for me.

Hurry up and Wait

Sometimes, I feel like my life can be broken down into the years B.D. and A.D.–before doctorate and after doctorate. As a second-year veterinary student, all that’s standing between me and my DVM is one more test, and then another, and another…you get the idea. When you’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since kindergarten, it’s hard not to see veterinary school as that last final hurdle before you can finally get out in the “real world” and start putting all this knowledge to good use. But after anticipating that goal for so many years, I’ve realized that now is the time to slow down and enjoy everything that makes veterinary school uniquely wonderful. After all, I’ll have decades to work and experience the ups and downs of a career in veterinary medicine. But, I only have four years to enjoy the experience of veterinary school, and it’s already flying by.

Although veterinary school involves a lot of work, it also constantly reminds me of why I love this profession, especially through participation in wetlabs almost every other weekend. In the past year, I’ve ultrasounded sheep in West Texas, drawn blood from rabbits, de-antlered a white-tailed deer, and much more. These wetlabs are a great way to learn practical skills in a low-pressure, interactive, and downright fun setting.

Over the course of the year, veterinary conferences and events are held throughout the country, giving students the opportunity to travel, interact, and experience unique fields of veterinary medicine. Texas A&M is hosting the national Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Symposium in March 2017, so I’ll be one of the lucky students who gets to participate in all of the events!

During summer breaks, students have the opportunity to expand their horizons in so many different ways. Some students travel abroad, conduct research projects, work at veterinary clinics, or take some time to relax. This past summer, I worked alongside veterinarians in several hospitals, but also found the time for a road trip to the Grand Canyon and other national parks. When else in life will you have three months free to pursue your passions?

Of course, possibly the most important aspect of veterinary school is the friendships you’ll make. Maybe it’s a result of being in a classroom for eight hours a day together, but you’ll meet some of your closest friends in veterinary school. These are the people who help keep you sane during busy weeks, and who are always ready for an adventure over the weekend. Odds are, when we graduate in a couple years, we’ll be scattered across Texas, the U.S., and maybe even the world. For better or for worse, life will change a lot after we walk the stage in May 2019.

So, in two and a half years I will graduate with a doctorate that says I’m qualified for my dream job. That’s two and a half years full of tests and exams, but also everything that makes this veterinary school experience so amazing. Being a veterinarian will no doubt be another adventure, and while I’m looking forward to the future, I’m no longer in a hurry to get there. I’ve got two and a half more years of memories to look forward to, so graduation can wait.