Planning for the Future

Sydney M.Well, I made it to my last semester before entering my fourth year of vet school, when I will be completing my clinical rotations in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, but now, the real future planning starts. I am amazed at how much A&M is preparing us for our future. They put a lot of effort into providing us with resources and opportunities to grow in our profession and graduate confident in that knowledge.

This semester started with a choice of which prep course to get for the NAVLE. The NAVLE is the exam you have to take in your fourth year of vet school to become a licensed veterinarian. I will be taking the NAVLE in November or December of this year. In order to quickly be able to review everything we have learned during our vet school journey, we sign up for online prep courses that guide us through important topics. I just signed up for one of the prep courses, and it’s now becoming real just how close I am to my fourth year and graduation!

This semester has already been jammed-packed with new knowledge for not only veterinary medicine, but also for financial and business knowledge. This semester, the third-year students are taking a class called “Practice Management,” in which we learn to effectively manage a veterinary practice when we graduate, as well as basic business skills for our resumes and cover letters, the hiring process, and personal finances. I am really excited about this class because I believe that I will gain great insight on life outside of vet school, which will help me make great choices when I graduate. The class has guest lecturers who discuss different topics. So far, we have covered resumes and cover letters, and the pros and cons of building a vet clinic or whether it’s better to buy an existing clinic. I am excited to hear the rest of the lectures throughout the semester!

Another way to help with your future planning is by joining the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA), an organization that is great for helping you plan for the business aspect of veterinary medicine. I joined VBMA in my second year and I have learned so much from this group. The VBMA offers several ways for you to boost your resume for the future. One way is through the business certification program, in which you attend 16 hours of business lectures hosted by the VBMA before you graduate from vet school. If you attend the lectures, you graduate with a business certificate, which will help set you apart from other applicants. In January, the VBMA holds a Professional Development Symposium with lectures that provide additional business knowledge. I just attended this seminar and was able to finish all of my hours for the certificate, so I am really proud of myself for sticking with it during vet school.

With all of this future-planning, I am getting excited for the next step in my career!

Looking Back and Ahead

Sydney M.Wow! This semester has just flown by! It seems like I just started classes again, but, instead, I just completed my finals.

In my last block for the semester, I took two electives, “Clinical Pathology” and “Emergency Medicine.” Clinical pathology is understanding disease processes and how they commonly present themselves using diagnostic tests such as blood work or cytology. Knowing how often veterinarians in practice read bloodwork, I was excited to be able to practice those skills and increase my confidence level before my fourth year. Emergency medicine was great because it helped me create a plan for the worst outcome, in hopes of saving lives. Having a basic idea of what to do in emergency situations helps give you a framework and the confidence to face those challenging cases head on. I have really enjoyed my electives this semester because I love how clinically relevant they are and how much they are preparing me for not only fourth year, but when I am out in a regular, practice setting.

Also during my last block was the Veterinary Job and Externship Fair. The Dean’s Office is great at making sure we are given a ton of opportunities to meet veterinarians and find great places to work for summer jobs, fourth-year externships, or even potential future employment! The fourth year of vet school is the clinical year, which means you work at the Small and Large Animal Hospitals to get tons of on-the-job training from the clinicians who work there full time. However, we are not confined to just one hospital for training; we also do externships for two weeks at a time at other veterinary clinics. I found one externship in New Braunfels, but I need to find another clinic to work during my fourth year, so this job and externship fair was a great way for me to do it.

While I have been able to do some hands-on and exciting things this semester, I still have a lot to look forward to during winter break, not only because I get to see my family and get some much needed rest, but also because I have an elective over the break at a clinic in Seguin, where I will focus on the client-communication aspects of veterinary medicine, as well as hone some basic veterinary skills. A veterinarian will be my mentor and will help me work through cases and put all of my lecture knowledge to good use. This winter break elective counts toward the total amount of elective hours I need to fulfill my veterinary degree, so the veterinarian at the clinic will evaluate my progress and send it back to Texas A&M.

There were so many fun and important things happening at the end of this semester and more that will happen over winter break. I am excited to be a part of it all!

Hitting the Ground Running

Sydney M.After just finishing the first two weeks of my third year, I am already feeling busy, but also excited for the semester. Third year is full of not only important lectures, but also awesome skills lab, clinics, electives, and surgery! The schedule is jammed packed with material to get us ready for fourth year, so it’s a nonstop day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Third year is very different from the first two years of vet school in that we have electives of our own choosing throughout four different blocks. My first elective is “Oncology” and I am learning from the oncologists in our hospitals; they are specialized in this field, so I am learning from clinicians who can give us tricks of the trade and break down what is most common or most important to know for when we get out into practice. So far, they have lectured to us about the different cancer types, different treatments options, and the differences in our species. This past week we met at the Diagnostic Imaging & Cancer Treatment Center, where they showed us the state-of-the-art equipment A&M has that we can use treat our patients, such as CT, MRI, and Tomotherapy. The elective is broken up so that we are not just in lecture the entire time, but also are getting a chance to work on cases ourselves and see how we would go about diagnosing an animal and staging the types of cancer.

I am also taking “Small Animal Skills” this block, and it’s been good practice as well! The very first week of “Small Animals Skills” started with a reptile-handling lab, in which I learned how to restrain snakes, different sized lizards, and turtles. A reptile rescue group came in, bringing a plethora of reptiles with them so we could get plenty of practice. I personally held several species of snakes, including a corn snake, ball python, and hog-nosed snake. Out of the lizards, I held a Chinese waterdragon, Tegu, and bearded dragon. It was amazing to be able to have that experience and learn so much about them.

The classes themselves are really interesting because we are starting our small-animal and large=animal medicine courses. Medicine really helps us gain the tools necessary to think like a doctor! In large-animal medicine, we are starting with the topic of theriogenology, which is all about reproduction. For our cattle, horses, goats, and sheep, knowledge of reproduction is very important so we can make sure we are keeping our breeds free of congenital problems. Small-animal medicine is starting a lecture series on oncology, so I am getting a lot of knowledge in that subject!

With all of the new and exciting labs and classes I am taking this semester, I’m happy I am hitting the ground running with third year and hope to gain a ton of new experiences along the way!