Protecting Our Deer Population

Karly B.There have been so many things that I have learned throughout my three years in veterinary school. I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have received to learn more than what our general curriculum contains.

Last week, I signed up for my certification to be able to do Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in our community. CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects cervids—or our white-tail deer, elk, mule deer, etc.—and has a lasting effect on our economy. The disease first came to Texas in 2012, and since then, we have been trying our best to contain it.

This certification is offered through the veterinary school, as well as the Texas Animal Health Commission. The class is part of a program of surveillance in the state of Texas to protect our wild cervid populations.

The certification course was provided to give us information and knowledge on the disease. It also served to train us on the proper ways to test deer antemortem (before they die) in an attempt to determine a cause of death and to survey the effects of CWD on our commercial herds.

We were taught by a veterinarian that is extremely passionate about protecting our Texas herds. We learned to properly collect and submit samples in order to be tested for CWD.

I took time outside of school to attend this certification, and I am so glad that I went because not only is it interesting to learn a real-world application of veterinary medicine that makes a huge impact in our community, but I was also reminded that veterinary medicine has many novel and important applications that are not necessarily just taking care of dogs and cats.

Big Decisions

Karly B.I have recently been tasked with submitting my fourth-year rotation preferences for our next, and last, year. I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. I was so overwhelmed when the administration first introduced this process to us.

The way our fourth year of veterinary school works is we enter into the Small and Large Animal Teaching Hospitals from May 2019 to May 2020. During this timeframe, we spend two weeks’ time on each of a series of rotations to gain experience in a clinical setting, making our own decisions, and taking care of patients.

It is our last step to becoming a doctor, other than passing the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination), of course.

The first decision we must make for our fourth year of veterinary school is choosing a track. These tracks include small animal, large animal, mixed, or alternative track. I settled on doing mixed animal, which is a combination of small and large animal track.

Although most of my experiences outside of school are small animal related, I have found a passion and interest in ruminants and chickens that I would like to continue to pursue through my education here at Texas A&M.

Then, we are given a choice of our rotations; some are elective and others are required. Of some of the required rotations, we have a month of anesthesia, two weeks of surgery, and two weeks at the Houston SPCA. In my chosen rotation selections, I chose community equine practice and the exotics rotation.

We also select a month to do externships at other hospitals and clinics. This was my most stressful decision. It’s so difficult to decide a timeframe to commit to going to another clinic when it’s so far away.

All in all, I believe I chose the right rotations, externships, and track to make the most of my remaining time here at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine.

Fighting Hunger One Gala at a Time

Picture this: A jiving jazz band, flickering chandeliers, dancing flappers, a plethora of fedoras, strands of pearls, and clinking glasses…


Karly at Gala
Karly, getting “dolled” up for the 1920s-themed gala

The Brownstone Reserve in Bryan was filled with a crowd of people all coming together with the appearances of having a roaring good time but, in reality, collecting money to take action on hunger and poverty in the most selfless way.

The 5th Annual Heifer International Charity Gala was a success on many fronts. Not only did the event run ever-so-smoothly, but the guests made many contributions to our great cause. In total, we raised nearly $15,000 in tickets, silent auction items, and heartfelt donations.

We also raised awareness. Education is often a more valuable commodity because, while money remains stagnant, knowledge grows between people and between dreams.

Our keynote speaker, Ardyth Neill, the president of Heifer International, honored us with her presence and shared her passion for a cause that touches many hearts. It’s difficult to think of how many people still continue to suffer in our world, but when an organization like Heifer International develops a logical plan to alleviate the pain many communities feel, one cannot help witnessing the hope radiating from the people the organization has touched.

As a member of the planning committee, I was so grateful for the family, friends, fellow students, faculty, and staff who came to support our endeavors. When our TAMU College of Veterinary Medicine comes together in this way, I know that I am exactly where I belong. I cannot compare this community’s compassion, empathy, and unconditional love with anything else, because there is truly no comparison.

I am grateful to be surrounded by so many likeminded individuals, who are constantly giving and giving, even when they have nothing left to give. So that night we danced, and we ate, and we lite up the room, not only with our strands of pearls, but also with our loving hearts.

For more information on the gala, click here or Heifer International, click here.

Learning: It’s for the Birds

Karly B.As a second-year veterinary student, it is sometimes very easy to forget that there are things outside of charts, notes, and endless PowerPoint slides. But, recently, I was reminded of the other learning opportunities we have here at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. One of those many fun and inspiring aspects of our professional program is the chance to head over the Avian Health Complex, where a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of practicing handling pigeons and tortoises.

I was elated to go to that rotation because I love exotic animals. After being debriefed on the safe and proper manner of handling birds, we got started. We gloved up to protect both the bird and ourselves, as we both can transmit diseases to each other. I then had to catch my pigeon! I caught mine pretty quickly; she was a lot less rambunctious than some of the others. My partner and I both took turns doing a complete physical exam on her, checking her eyes, ears, wings, musculature, and many other body parts. We identified in a report that she was healthy and then we moved on to weighing her. Lastly, we drew blood from her wing vein so that the flock could be screened and given a clean bill of health. I loved handling the birds.

The tortoises were a bit trickier. You see, when a tortoise does not care to be picked up, it has a very effective method of defense—IT PEES ON YOU!! And this is not just a little trickle; these little guys can aim! Part of our task was to do a bunch of similar examination techniques on the Texas Tortoises, but there is a huge difference between a tortoise and a pigeon—a tortoise has a shell, of course! So how do you take a heart rate on a tortoise? Well, I am glad you asked. I found it quite fascinating. We used a Doppler. A Doppler is a type of ultrasound machine that you place in the crook between the tortoise’s head and forelimb. Through the machine, you can actually hear the pulse of the heart.

For me and my partner, we got through our physical exam with no incidents. Others were not so lucky and went home with a little bit of tortoise urine to commemorate the event.

Nobody really minded.

It’s all in a day’s work.