Fourth Year is Almost Here!

rebecca gooderIn just 15 months that are sure to come and go in the blink of an eye, I will officially be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine! We are currently about halfway through our sixth and final didactic semester of veterinary school, and I must say, the light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright!

Come May 6, it’ll be time to pack up all of the knowledge I have gained and make that highly anticipated journey from the Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) over to the Large and Small Animal Hospitals to begin clinics.

Clinics span an entire year; we spend two weeks on each rotation collaborating with classmates, technicians, residents, and clinicians in a quest to apply our veterinary knowledge in a clinical setting with real patients.

Core rotations that we all must participate in include small animal emergency & critical care, veterinary radiology, anesthesiology, and equine medicine & surgery, just to name a few. My very first fourth-year rotation will be small animal emergency & critical care, and while it certainly sounds intense, I am looking forward to jumping right in.

At Texas A&M, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to “track” during our fourth year, which means that, in addition to the core rotations that all veterinary students must participate in, we can focus our remaining time on either small/companion animal, equine, mixed, food animal, or alternative rotations.

Considering my dream of becoming a dairy veterinarian, it is no surprise that I chose to track food animal.

Preparations for this began last year, as students choosing this track are required to select a mentor and enroll in food-animal focused electives during our third year; some of these elective classes include “Advanced Food Animal Medicine & Surgery” and “Advanced Herd Health Production.”

For me, a big advantage of the food animal track is the opportunity to participate in off-campus production rotations, which count as two of our track-specific rotations. Both of my production rotations are scheduled with dairy practices—one in Dexter, New Mexico, and the other in Los Banos, California—and I cannot wait to gain more experience in my field of interest.

Other benefits of the food animal track include having three food animal medicine & surgery rotations (for a total of six weeks!) in the Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital and a rotation with the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

It is very surreal to think that I am almost 75 percent of the way to being all done with veterinary school. With clinics, NAVLE (the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination) studying, and job searching coming up within this next year, it is sure to be very busy.

But as busy as I will undoubtedly, I am so excited to being so close to realizing my dream.

As I finish writing this, I realize that this will be my very last blog as a CVM Ambassador. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to represent our college and guide tours for prospective students and guests and I value all the memories I have made!

Taking on Phoenix

Rebecca at Quizbowl
Third-year veterinary students Ryan De Vuyst, Reagan McAda, Rebecca Gooder, and Kale Johnson prepare for the Quiz Bowl Competition.

Recently, 10 Texas A&M veterinary students, including myself, traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, for the 51st annual American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Conference. As if simply attending my very first AABP conference wasn’t exciting enough, three fellow third-year veterinary students and I had the opportunity to compete in the Quiz Bowl competition!

The Quiz Bowl is bracket-style competition, during which students must not only be well-versed in a variety of bovine veterinary medicine related topics, but also have lightning-fast fingers in order hit the buzzer before another team does! While our team, unfortunately, did not advance out of the first round (congratulations to University of Georgia for winning our round and the entire competition!), it was still a very fun, worthwhile experience and I am proud of our team!

The AABP Conference also offered a trade show with more than 100 exhibitors ranging from pharmaceutical and ultrasound companies to our very own Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory! The most beneficial part of the trade show, for me, was learning about a student loaner ultrasound program, through which students can request to borrow an ultrasound for use during a two-week externship. As someone who plans to practice dairy medicine, the opportunity to have substantial reproductive ultrasound experience prior to graduating from vet school is HUGE and I am so excited about taking advantage of this opportunity.

When not wandering around at the trade show, talking to company reps and snagging some cool freebies, you could likely have found me sitting in on the dairy sessions. What was neat about the AABP conference is that they offered concurrent dairy, beef, practice-management and student sessions—something to pique everyone’s interest! Talks on the use of thoracic ultrasound to monitor lung health in dairy calves, antimicrobial stewardship (presented by Texas A&M’s own Dr. Virginia Fajt), and field necropsy were just some of the many diverse topics aimed at equipping us to embody this year’s conference theme to “Become Indispensable.”

Another highlight of the conference was the opportunity to reconnect with friends made at past externships, as well as meet other students and veterinarians. We came to Phoenix from all over the country, but we all have one thing in common—we are proud to be future and current bovine practitioners and will continue to strive to do the best job we can protecting the beef and dairy industries.

The countdown is on for next year’s AABP conference in St Louis, Missouri! 🙂

Halfway There!

Rebecca in her white coat with family
Rebecca (third from the right) and her family, who flew in from California for the White Coat Ceremony on Friday

This past Friday, April 13, my fellow second-year veterinary students and I received our white coats! The White Coat Ceremony is a much-anticipated tradition that celebrates our “transition from classroom study to clinical work.” During the ceremony, our faculty mentors presented us with our coats as our loved ones proudly cheered. For some neat history of the White Coat Ceremony here at Texas A&M University, I encourage you to check out this link.

Receiving our white coats marks the halfway point of our veterinary school career. It’s absolutely crazy to think that I have already reached this point in my education. Looking back on the past eight years since I graduated from high school…yikes, what a journey! Veterinary school, and the path to getting here, has certainly held its fair share of challenges. Despite still having two more years to go, I can FINALLY see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel so close to realizing my dream of becoming a dairy vet!All of my wonderful family flew out to College Station from California for the occasion. There is no doubt that I have been able to make it to this point thanks, in huge part, to their endless support and encouragement of my DVM pursuit, and it was so nice to take a break from school for a few days to enjoy having all of them here with me in town.

As a CVM ambassador, I love sharing this with prospective students who come to visit and tour the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. I understand how daunting eight years of schooling can be for a high school student interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, and I empathize with college students who are trying to make their veterinary school application as great as it can be.

So, in these conversations, my message is always the same—time flies when you’re chasing after your dream; it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. In the blink of an eye and with some hard work, they’ll be receiving their very own white coat before they know it!

Staying Motivated through the Spring

The spring semester of our 2VM (second-year veterinary student) year is officially upon us, and, boy, do we have a packed schedule: “Anesthesia/General Surgery,” “Infectious Diseases,” “Introduction to Diagnostic Imaging,” “Pathology II,” “Pharmacology II,” “Public Health,” and “Toxicology!”

Here are some things that I have found work well for me in staying motivated through a busy semester. Maybe they can help you tackle your semester, as well!

  1. Study in a new or different location! Some days I find that I am most productive in the study rooms in VIDI. Other times, I focus best while sitting at my desk at home. And sometimes, I study most effectively in the midst of a bustling coffee shop. Sometimes, you just have to switch it up; a change of scenery may be all you need to get back on track!
  2. Acknowledge how far you have come! 2VMs are already 3/8ths of the way toward earning our DVM degrees, which is absolutely wild to think about. We’ve had the strength, courage, and motivation to make it this far in our educational careers…surely we can keep going!
  3. Take breaks! When I wake up on a Sunday morning and tell myself that I am going to study all day long, it never fails that at one point or another during the afternoon, I will lose my focus. Studying for just a few hours at a time, however, interrupted by a 20- or 30-minute well-deserved study break, works wonders for my productivity and overall motivation!
  4. Look forward to White Coat Ceremony!!! April 13 is going to be here before we know it! All of my family will be flying out to College Station (some of them for the very first time!) from California, and I have no doubt that this excitement will carry me through the most stressful of times and help keep me motivated and pressing on this semester. Find something exciting you have coming up in your life and make a countdown
  5. Look forward to your summer plans! I will be spending my summer externing at two different dairy practices in California, and I am already so excited. The opportunity to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained in school and apply it to real-world situations on a dairy farm is reason enough for me to stay motivated and keep a positive attitude throughout the semester!
  6. Stay organized! Writing in my planner has become quite a hobby of mine. I can conveniently write down assignment due dates, upcoming exams, etc., all in one convenient spot. Seeing everything neatly written down and organized into different days makes me realize that there is, indeed, enough time to accomplish everything, thus preventing me from becoming overwhelmed. You cannot stay motivated if you are overwhelmed!
  7. Set reasonable goals! Rather than saying I am going to review all of the lecture material since our previous exam in a day, I split it up—for example, a half hour for each lecture. There is something satisfying about being able to check off a box on a to-do study list, and that keeps me motivated to keep at it!

Happy spring semester everyone! 🙂

Connecting the Dots

Rebecca G.As happy as I am to be back in College Station and in the midst of my second year of veterinary school, I can’t help but long for the days of this past summer—waking up at 2:30 a.m. each day, throwing on my coveralls and tall rubber boots, and having the amazing opportunity to spend my days working alongside veterinarians and health technicians on a commercial dairy in northeast Texas. Whether we were ultrasounding cows to confirm pregnancy, performing a necropsy, discussing a mastitis outbreak, dehorning heifers, or vaccinating calves, I loved it all; each day ended with me being even more excited about pursuing a career in dairy production medicine upon graduating from vet school in May 2020.

Summertime during vet school is the perfect opportunity to get out of the classroom and laboratory setting, further explore our veterinary interests, and gain valuable hands-on, clinical experience. What made my experience so beneficial, in particular, was how I was able to utilize all of the knowledge I acquired from my first year of vet school. For example, thanks to microbiology, from the spring semester, I knew that those Johne’s calves were infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis and that this pathogen is primarily transmitted via the fecal-oral route. Or, now that we are taking pharmacology this semester, it makes perfect sense why pirlimycin was being used to treat Streptococcus uberis mastitis—pirlimycin is a macrolide antibiotic that targets gram positive aerobes and S. uberis is a gram positive aerobe! I only wish I knew then that bile imbibition is a normal post-mortem change and that fibrin is associated with acute inflammation!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day “grind” of vet school, but experiences like this summer remind me why I am here and why I am just so excited to be working my way toward that Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. I look forward to spending the rest of this academic year soaking up all of the new knowledge I can so that I can go into next summer’s externship at a big dairy practice in California as prepared as possible!

Finishing First Year

In 41 days, I officially will be finished with my first year of vet school. Come May 5, I will have taken more than 40 exams, listened to roughly 200 hours of lectures, spent more than 200 hours in the gross anatomy lab, and easily put in more than 1,000 hours of studying, all since we stepped into our brand-new vet school complex on Aug. 22.

Whenever anyone asks me how vet school has been going, my go-to answer always tends to be something along the lines of, “It’s certainly challenging, but so doable.” It comes as no surprise that vet school is challenging. After all, we’re here to become doctors—that should be no easy feat! Gone are the undergraduate days of committing information to memory for the sole purpose of doing well on an exam, only to forget all of it in a matter of minutes. As a vet student, I am striving to make sure that I truly am understanding what we are being taught and learning the material so that it really makes sense, so that it can stick with me forever. What makes it so doable, though, is how interesting the subject matters are.

This is the foundation that I will be building upon for my next three years of vet school, and I want to make sure it’s a strong one! I am excited to make the most of these next 948 hours of life as a 1VM and end the year on high note, but I am definitely looking forward to the summer break and coming back as a 2VM! I have no doubt that the next school year will be just as great and memorable as this one has been.


How Time Flies

Changing the calendar from November to December signifies two very important upcoming events in my life—final exams and family time! Only five finals and a 2,000-mile journey separate me from a month-long break back home in California.

And like any eager and excited 1VM, you can be sure that I’ll be packing my fancy stethoscope that Texas Veterinary Medical Association gifted each of us back in August at orientation! After all, there is a dog, horse, and two goats at home just waiting for me to practice my physical examination skills on them. But, don’t go thinking that I’ll be spending every waking moment of my break in veterinary student mode! In addition to “Proud 1VM,” I acquired another special title this semester: maid of honor. My very best friend, who just so happens to also be my identical twin sister, recently became engaged while on vacation in Iceland! So, as one could imagine, I have all sorts of wedding planning to help with when I get back to California, and I couldn’t be any more excited.

Changing the calendar from November to December also means that we just celebrated Thanksgiving, which I spent with 105,000 Aggie friends at Kyle Field. I may not have known exactly what to yell or when to “WHOOP!” but I had so much fun anyway. Obviously, Thanksgiving is a great time to express what we’re thankful for, but there is truly not a day that goes by that I don’t walk into our new veterinary school and think about how grateful I am to be a veterinary student at Texas A&M. I’ve only been a veterinary student for 15 weeks, and already I have had so many wonderful experiences. Some of my favorites from the semester include weekly Food Animal Rounds, the Food Animal Wet Lab, BP (Bovine Practitioners) meetings and BP Herd Work. I also had the opportunity to help out with the Veterinary Biomedical Education Complex Grand Opening that took place on November 11, which was such a cool day to be part of.

For many others, changing the calendar from November to December means that Texas A&M veterinary school interview invites will be going out within the month!!! It really seems like just yesterday I was so anxiously waiting to hear back…. crossing days off my countdown and obsessively checking my email every two seconds. If you’re currently in this boat, I’m sure you can relate to this. For those who soon receive the good news, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Go into your interview with a smile and confidence. Have fun and you will do well. If the news isn’t exactly what you were hoping for, I can also relate to this! The best advice I can offer here is do a file review and stay strong. Everything works out when it is supposed to 🙂

New Year, New Building

The Class of 2020, which will be the centennial graduating class (!!!), is privileged to be able to spend the next three years in the brand new, state-of-the-art Veterinary Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) that now houses the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

For those of you that haven’t yet checked out VBEC, let me just tell you that the lecture halls and labs are NICE, which create the perfect environment for learning. In the first semester of veterinary school, first-year students all take Gross Anatomy, Histology (Microscopic Anatomy), Physiology, Immunology, Behavior, and Clinical Correlates.

I have absolutely no doubt that veterinary school will soon enough become challenging and stressful, but I hope that I can always remember how great it feels to finally be not only a veterinary student, but a veterinary student at Texas A&M.