The Positivity in Isolation

The current situation is one that I, like many people who crave connection to others, would prefer not to be in, but I have decided to look at all the good that has come out of such a negative situation.


One positive is I have increased my step count two-fold by taking my lovely blue heeler puppy, who has all the energy in the world, for two runs a day.  Not only am I getting in shape but I am strengthening my bond with my pet little by little every day.


Our run in the morning is around 5 a.m., and during this time I also practice my mindfulness. I don’t take my phone and don’t listen to any music. Instead, I listen to the world around me and take the moment to appreciate the nature that surrounds us and get my thoughts in order for the day.

Our second run is in the evening once it cools down a bit, and the view is completely different. I see families taking walks together, children playing in the front yard, couples sitting on their porches enjoying each other’s company. This is completely different than the normal view of people on their phones, children playing video games, and others constantly in a rush. It is as though this little isolation has brought forward what is most important.


Another positive is to see that social media does have the power to be good. For instance, Instagram has been one that I personally enjoy checking daily now. Not to compare myself to others, but to see all the fun challenges. There is one that is about squatting your pet (safely and if under 50 lbs) and it’s so fun to watch, as are others like the properly named “see a pup send a pup,” or the “until tomorrow” where embarrassing photos are posted just for a laugh.


Besides the positivity of puppies and a good laugh the world is coming together as a community. Professional students (medical, veterinarian, dentistry, and others) are helping with this in some way shape or form. Either on the forefront of the fight or donating extra personal protective gear to local hospitals. The profession of veterinarian medicine is trying to help out the medical community by donating ventilators and other equipment that can be used.


Last note of positivity is the Zoom meetings. Luckily, this day and age technology allows us to still connect face to face, and thank goodness we have this ability. Zoom meetings for class, although it can be difficult at times, have actually been really fun. This is because we can see how our classmates and professors live, and it gives us insight into other people’s lives. Some of us are using it as a study tool and still meat with the study groups that we normally do just to keep the normalcy. Others are using it to connect with friends to do a workout class together because we all know staying fit is better with company. It allows us to fulfill that connection we need as humans.


I know this is a trying time on everyone, but with every dark day there is a cloud with a silver lining. Take a moment each day to look and find the silver lining.

2nd year Alexandria Phoenix donating extra surgical supplies to her local hospital.


Getting More Hands-On in Second Year

It is already week six for veterinary students here at Texas A&M.

The semester has been filled with so many unique learning moments I thought I would share what it looks like to be a second-year student. This year, our classes are more focused on what it’s like to be a doctor, rather than just lecture-based classes.

For example, we have one class called “Organ Dysfunction” in which we get different cases (based on real hospital cases) each week and work through them with our “team.” We come up with different test and diagnoses for that pet and then discuss as a class why we were or were not right.

I think it is remarkable that as a second year I get to start working through cases that came through the hospital just as if I was in my fourth-year clinical rotations at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Another class in which we get more hands-on time is our anesthesia lab. We learn what each machine does, how to properly place it on the patient, and what it monitors during the anesthesia process.

For this lab, we got to bring our furry friends from home and take a blood pressure reading. We also connected them to an EKG (an electrocardiogram, which is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat), and learned how to read and interpret the information properly.

Taylor’s dog Jameson is a model patient, allowing Taylor to practice taking his blood pressure—using a blood pressure cuff similar to those human doctors use to take your blood pressure—during her anesthesia lab.

Lastly, in our “Professional & Clinical Skills” class, second-year students learn how to properly do CPR using models. Yes, even dogs can get CPR. We learned all about proper hand placement and rhythm, and then we worked in teams through different scenarios in which CPR would be needed.

It was eye-opening to work with different classmates and see how each person handles “high-stress” situations differently. We were able to give each other feedback on what went well and what we could fix. There has been a lot of peer teaching this semester, and although many students may not care for group work, I would say it’s been very helpful because each student sees the situation differently; what one student sees, another may not.

This creates a learning opportunity that is different than just sitting in a lecture-style classroom. It also gives students the chance to work with peers they may not normally work with and to work with a variety of personalities as well. As a second-year student, this semester has been filled with hands-on activities that makes learning really fun.

It also has shown me a preview into some things we may encounter in fourth-year rotations, or even later in life. This small preview has made me super excited for what may come and fuels the passion I have for veterinary medicine. Here is to more adventures to come!

Returning from the Break

The hardest part of winter break is how short it is—just long enough for a mental break from school, but just short enough that you yearn for another week off. On the positive side, winter break can be a time to enjoy friends and family or even show off your new skills that you learned during school.

During my break, in December, I traveled to the lovely state of California to watch my little brother play in his last high school lacrosse tournament. Watching my little brother enjoy his passion is an inspiration and a reminder for me to find a hobby to be passionate about it.

Also during the trip, the state of California won my heart; I possibly found my future home.In addition to my small amount of travel, I went back to work at my home clinic. To most, working over break would be less than ideal, but I really enjoy it.

Going back to the clinic gets better and better with each semester as I learn more and more here at Texas A&M. I can finally understand the doctor’s thought process when working up a case, and the veterinarians continue to push me to think more like a doctor each and every day.

Plus, I get to show off the new skills I have learned in my “Professional and Clinical Skills” classes, things like new suturing patterns or how to work the ultrasound.

I did get to enjoy the little things in life over winter break, things like dinner dates with your best friends you haven’t seen in a year or eating a messy breakfast with your goddaughter; little moments like these are ones that last a lifetime and stick with you in the future. Break is always nice time to reflect and get in the right mindset for the next semester. The second semester of every year is an exciting one, as we start to test our knowledge and are encouraged to start thinking like doctors in classes like “Organ Dysfunction.” We also get to dip our hands into the exciting world of surgery with our “Principles of Surgery” class, which is where we start to learn about the proper techniques and gear up for “Junior Surgery” come fall.

My 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting one, filled with new adventures, positive thoughts and encounters, and encouragement in learning. As we begin a new year and a new semester, I encourage students to take a moment to reflect on their break and what they did, to recognize the little joys that were experienced over break and the memories that come.



To Be Thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, both veterinary and biomedical sciences students can see the tiny break on the horizon and with it, the chance to escape school, eat a free meal (or multiple), and to see family.

Sometimes, however, we forget that Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have or where we are in life.

As a veterinary student who is gearing up for the end of the semester, I thought I would share what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for a small, deaf puppy who strolled into my life unexpectedly. Although having pets in vet school can be difficult (especially an 8-month-old puppy) Jameson has been an amazing stress relief I never knew I needed. From our early morning mediated walks to our Saturday dog park days, he is a small reminder to breathe.

I am thankful for the support system Texas A&M has brought me. As a student who did not go to A&M as an undergraduate, you could say I was initially worried about making new friends. However, the friends I have made here are ones that will last a lifetime. We support each other through school, remind each other we are human, and bring each other candy every once in a while.

I am thankful for the opportunities Texas A&M has brought into my life—from the professional skills lab where I can practice skills like ultrasound in order to become a better doctor, to the career fair where I get to network with future employers who said, “I was there once too, you got this!” and even my ambassador role through which I get to meet with students and share the same passion of veterinary medicine and remember why I started veterinary school.

The list could go on and on.

As we go home this Thanksgiving to enjoy a free meal or two and our time with family, I hope everyone will think about what you have to be thankful for. It just may surprise you everything that comes to mind.

The Value of ‘Brain Breaks’

Taylor SheffieldThe first year of veterinary school is fun, exhilarating, and, sometimes, exhausting. With the excitement of class and lab throughout the day and then coming home to study at night, we vet students occasionally forget how to step away from the books and slightly relax.

Now that the semester is half way over, I have learned that those tiny moments away from the books are essential to everyday life. At first, school seemed to take a big chunk of my time, or so I thought, and I could not possibly imagine fitting in any “brain breaks.”

Well, that did not last too long. I found my focus had started to decrease once I got home from school, and so I had to learn how to incorporate a small break here and there.

First, I decided to continue my summer exercise routine of 40 minutes a day of some kind of exercise I enjoyed. Personally, I enjoy running and yoga. Although some days I may not have all of that time, even 20 or 30 minutes of exercise is enough to get me up and away from the books. During those 30 minutes, I get my blood pumping, clear my mind, and take a step away from the bright luminesce screen. On days when studying is long and vigorous, after two hours I take a break and do a workout video from YouTube, and that short, and free 20, minutes of exercise is just enough to get me up out of my chair and reset my brain.

There are days when exercise is just not appealing, so other little stress relievers are useful. Coloring while listening to music, doing a load of laundry, baking a cake, taking 10 minutes for meditation, or even vacuuming up the apartment are all ways I step away from school. An even better brain break, and one I enjoy very much, as most veterinarian students do, is to play or cuddle with my cat, which releases that small amount of stress I was focusing on while studying.

Over the last nine weeks, the most important thing I have learned is to take those small breaks. I know it can be difficult at times, but those breaks help improve studying! Research has shown that our brains are not meant to look at something or stay stationary for long periods of time, so having short mental breaks, ranging from 20-30 minutes, can actually improve information retention.

So, no matter what you’re doing, remember to occasionally take a step away, enjoy the fresh air, and let the mind reset.