One of the many incredible things about veterinary medicine and Texas A&M is that not all learning happens in a classroom! Now that I’m in my third year of veterinary school, I have come to truly appreciate any opportunity to learn beyond sitting in a chair listening to lecture.
As ready as I am to hit the clinic floor come my fourth year in May, I am a little apprehensive to find out exactly how much I have learned. I am thankfully reassured every time I get the chance to exercise my knowledge.
My pet Labrador Retriever, Paisley, also gets to participate from time to time. In exchange for staying still enough for me and my groupmates to practice casting her leg or running an ultrasound, Paisley gets more treats and attention than she could ever ask for. As almost any Lab would, she loves it!
Not every day can be “Bring Your Lab to Lab Day,” though. Thankfully, we have models that also serve as great learning tools.
Recently, in Orthopedic Surgery, we practiced fixing fractures on synthetic plastic bones. Although they weren’t exactly like the real thing, it was good practice trying to align the bone and drive a pin through it to stabilize it.
By the end of the lab, I really got to admire how good I had gotten at twisting my wire tight.
I was surprised to find that something I never would have considered doing in normal practice two years ago—fixing a fracture with pins and wires—seemed totally feasible in the next year or two. What I had considered as a “specialty” procedure before, I now consider doing in the future if my patients need it all because I’m more comfortable performing it now.
It’s amazing how much a single lab can change your viewpoint!
One of my favorite hands-on opportunities is one that isn’t even specific to the veterinary college. Disaster Day is an annual disaster simulation that nursing, medicine, public health, and veterinary students all get to participate in.
I had opted not to participate in my previous two years of vet school and having finally taken the chance to try it out, I thoroughly regret not participating sooner!
Though the event is a simulation that utilizes actors, it was surprising how much I immersed myself in the moment and learned from working through the various cases that were presented. The actors were so convincing and would show up anywhere from calm and collected to crying to screaming in panic!
What was truly engaging and eye-opening to me was seeing the crossover between the veterinary and human medical fields as zoonotic diseases—diseases passed from animals to people—popped up over the course of the day. After the event, I found myself wrapped up in just replaying some of the day’s excitement over and over again in my head.
Just when I start to really grow tired of all those hours studying, some exciting opportunity pops up for me to practice what I’ve learned.
I’m three years in now and I can confidently say vet school is just exciting as it was on day one—if not more! Here’s looking to fourth year and all the exciting cases ahead of me.