New Year, New Mindset

Taylor SheffieldThe same old saying of “New Year, New You” really is one of my least favorite sayings. Instead, I like to think of it as a new year, new mindset.

Every year we create goals and ambitions for the start of the semester, and as life gets a little chaotic, we tend to forget those goals or think they are unreachable. So instead of trying to change who I am and my life style, I decided I am going to change my mindset.

I’ve set out to have a more positive outlook on life, and instead of adding more things to my plate (as a veterinary student, that is a lot), I’m going to focus on how to rearrange the plate to make it less full.

By being more positive and looking at the silver lining, I hope my life can be more focused on the “what can I do to make it better” versus the “this day really stunk.”

In order to do this, there are apps that send me daily affirmations and positivity quotes to start my week. The positivity train doesn’t stop there—I have decided I will try to pass it on to my classmates or fellow colleagues, because you never know who truly needs that small reminder that everything is going to be OK.

As veterinary students, our plates are filled with more activities than a normal student, so the question becomes how do you balance it all without getting rid of some things?

Well, that is where the thought of rearranging comes into play; sometimes you have to get rid of things that may not be of use or benefit to you in order to allot more space to things that are important.

If getting rid of that activity is not your style, I encourage you to look at your time as a puzzle and all of the activities are pieces. Each week may be a different puzzle, and each activity may be a different size, but that is a slightly different mindset than just piling up activities.

With the New Year and new semester, I encourage all students and faculty to think about instead of changing you, change the mindset around you and your life.

Be more positive about the small victories that happen throughout the day, versus focusing on the small mishaps. Spread the good energy from classmate to classmate or friends to family because you never know who needs it. Change the way you look at a busy schedule by focusing on what makes you happy and getting rid of things that are just extra. Piece it together like a puzzle rather than a pile of responsibilities in order to create so more structure.

Welcome to the New Year, and go for that goal!

Innovation, Diversity, and Fourth Year

TaylorI attended part of the second annual Veterinary Innovation Summit (VIS) that was held over the weekend here at Texas A&M. Veterinarians, veterinary students, and other members of the veterinary industry from all over the United States descended upon the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences for three days to talk about the future of veterinary medicine and what we can do to advance the profession. There were talks and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the human-animal bond in the 21st century, one health, on-demand veterinary services, telemedicine, and the future of practice models and ownership, to name a few.

I attended a panel discussion where the deans from Texas A&M, Florida, The Ohio State University, and UC-Davis veterinary schools discussed the different ways they are trying to better prepare their new graduates through their respective curricula. There were mentions of business courses, communications training, and other things of the like. But diversity was a common theme.

The deans discussed their commitment to the further diversification of their veterinary school classes. Diversifying the veterinary school classes can help to create even better veterinarians and vet clinic environments in the future, as people from a wide variety of backgrounds can all bring experiences and perspectives to the table. It will also help the veterinary profession to better serve a diverse group of people and their pets in our ever-diversifying country.

I think the VIS is a great networking event and a great way to gather up veterinarians, innovative technology, and other companies to exchange ideas and push the veterinary profession into the future!

On a side note, it is now only 28 short days until I start my clinical rotations as a fourth-year veterinary student!!! I really cannot believe how fast this year (and all of vet school) has flown by, and I am a bit intimidated by the responsibility that comes with being a fourth year. I’m slowly mentally preparing myself for the change to come and am SO excited to be done with the constant studying and exam-taking portion of my veterinary studies.

I’m especially excited for all of the hands-on learning I’ll get to do, new challenges I’ll face, and interacting with clients and patients!

Receiving Our Fourth-Year Schedules

TaylorLast week we received our fourth-year clinical rotation schedules! During your fourth year of veterinary school, you complete 24, two-week clinical rotations throughout the different services in the Small and Large Animal Hospitals and have some time set aside throughout the year for externships and vacation.

We third-year students selected our tracks (small animal, large animal, mixed animal, food animal, or alternative) back in November and ranked our preferences for some of the services in the Small and Large Animal Hospitals. Needless to say, we’ve all been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our rotation schedules for the past three months! As soon as we got the email that our rotation schedules were in our mailboxes, most of my classmates excitedly ran over to get our schedules and immediately started comparing them to see which rotations we may have together. The whole class was abuzz with excitement! To be honest, I could barely pay attention in class the rest of the day because I was just too excited to focus!

In my fourth year, I will start out in general surgery and then go to the Houston ASPCA for my first two clinical rotations. I’m very excited to start on these rotations because I will gain further experience spaying and neutering dogs and cats, which will give me great confidence and allow me to apply these skills during my externships later in the year. I’m also excited to complete the small animal emergency/critical care rotation, because I have not had a lot of experience with emergency cases in the past and am interested to learn more about how to stabilize and treat emergent patients. I’ll also rotate through many other services in the hospitals including cardiology, radiology, food animal medicine, equine field services, dermatology, and anesthesiology, just to name a few. I’m so excited for fourth year, and I can’t wait to see cases, interact with patients daily, and finally get to put the knowledge and skills that I have learned for the past three years into practice!

I honestly cannot believe that I’m in my final semester of classes before entering the clinics! Vet school has really gone by fast! It’s scary and exciting to think that in just a little over one year I will graduate and finally achieve my lifelong goal of becoming a veterinarian!

Third-Year Excitement

TaylorOne of the best things about third year is getting to choose our electives! Veterinary students are required to take 14 hours of electives by the end of our third year, in addition to our 14-plus hours of core classes per semester. The electives are one to two credit hours, with smaller class sizes ranging from 12-80 people. This means that we get to take a variety of electives and learn more about the specific topics that we’re interested in, in a smaller setting and with more hands-on learning.

I’m currently taking the “Oncology” elective, in which I’m learning more about common tumor types and cancer treatments. I will also be taking the “Dermatology,” “Exotic Hoofstock,” “Avian Medicine,” and “Cardiology” electives this semester. I’m particularly excited about some of the electives that I will be taking in the spring, including “Small Animal Behavior,” “Dentistry,” “Diseases of Swine,” “Feline Medicine,” and “Preventative Medicine.” I’m grateful for the opportunity to take such a wide variety of electives to learn more about interesting topics that cannot always be covered in-depth in the core classes and to become more familiar with the clinicians and residents that I will work with during my fourth year.

Our core classes for this semester include “Small Animal Medicine,” “Large Animal Medicine,” “Radiology,” “Junior Surgery,” and “Correlates.” I’m excited to take all of the information I’ve learned from first and second year and apply it to the big picture of our small- and large-animal medicine courses this year to learn how to treat our veterinary patients and “think more like a doctor.” So far, I’m enjoying “Small Animal Medicine” the most and look forward to learning more about common diseases and pathologic conditions in small animals and how to treat them.

We also have a few clinic days each semester, during which we get to work with the fourth-years, residents, interns, and clinicians on different services in the Small or Large Animal Hospitals. This semester, I’ve already shadowed in the “Neurology” and “General Surgery” services. I’ve enjoyed these clinic days; I feel that they’ve helped me better navigate the Small Animal Hospital and get a feel for how fourth year will be, in addition to learning from some cool cases!

I’m excited for all that I will learn this year! I know that my electives and clinical rotations, in addition to our core classes, will help prepare me for fourth year, which is only a short nine months away! This year will fly by, and I will do my best to soak up every minute of fun and learning from it!

My ‘Last’ Summer

As I write this blog entry, I have just finished my eighth final exam and have now officially completed my second year of veterinary school! “Whoop” to being “half” of a DVM! Second year has been challenging, but it also has been filled with new and exciting knowledge, as well as great memories like receiving my white coat! The end of the year is always an exciting time, but this year it means that I’m now entering my last summer break EVER.

The summer between your second and third years of veterinary school is the final summer break that you will get as a veterinary student because there is only a one-weekend break between the end of your third year and the start of you fourth-year clinical rotations. Therefore, I’m determined to make this summer count, with a lot of fun and interesting veterinary experiences planned for the summer. I also have left myself some time toward the end of the summer to simply relax and enjoy family and friends before starting my third year.

In just 10 short days I will be leaving for Cusco, Peru, to volunteer on a World Vets trip to conduct a large-scale sterilization program in the area. I’m excited to experience Peru’s unique culture, assist the veterinary team with health consultations and spays and neuters for local pets in the area, and visit the famous Machu Picchu!

Shortly after I arrive back in the United States, I will be moving to the Houston area to participate in a six-week internship with a local Banfield clinic, where I will gain further clinical experience and learn more about corporate-style veterinary medicine. I’m excited to put into practice some of the skills that I have learned this year, like reading radiographs and blood work results, while interning.

Once I’ve completed my six-week internship, I’ll be jetting off to Belize for a week-long family vacation and then will return home to Boerne to spend some time with my family and friends, as well as shadow at two of the local veterinary clinics that I’ve been going to for years.

I’m excited to start my summer and enjoy this much-deserved break! However, I know that it will come to an end sooner than I expect. That’s not such a bad thing, though, because I’m looking forward to my third year, as it will be filled with our medicine classes and many interesting electives that are geared more toward our individual interests in veterinary medicine!

Spring Break and Looking to 4th Year

Spring Break is just a week away, and I am so ready for it. But it is also very bittersweet. This will be my last vacation before starting my fourth and final year of vet school. Breaks are so important. Here at Texas A&M, we really strive for overall wellness, not just academic wellness but physical and mental wellness, as well. As part of my mental and social wellness, I participate heavily with a student organization outside of the vet school. This Spring Break we will be taking a trip to Arkansas and going to various museums and on nature walks.

Even though I am so excited for the chance to take a breather, I can’t help but think to the future. In just two months’ time, I will start my last year of vet school. These past four years of undergrad and three years of vet school all have lead up to one final year of clinics before I earn my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. I thought I would feel more nervous, but an overwhelming sense of readiness has fallen over me, and the whole class. I know that my dedication, both inside and outside of the classroom, and the support of my professors have prepared me to confidently enter clinics.

I am most looking forward to my neurology and zoo-medicine rotations. The summer after my first year, I spent two weeks shadowing the neurology service. I learned so much and can’t wait to go back and have primary-case responsibility. As for zoo medicine, I have always loved exotic animal medicine and might end up taking the rotation twice. I’m also excited about my externship. Externships are great opportunities that give you four weeks to venture outside of the Texas A&M hospitals and learn from a veterinarian of your choosing, which allows you to pay special interest to specific areas and to become a more well-balanced veterinarian.

The Countdown

They tell us at orientation that Vet School will go by “in the blink of an eye,” and I never really believed them. But now, as I enter the fifth week of my fourth semester of Vet School, I’m really beginning to notice how fast it all goes by! I’m only a second-year student, but soon enough I will be halfway done with my veterinary medical education, and into my third-year. As a third-year student, I will have opportunities to take electives that are geared towards my career path of mixed animal veterinary medicine.

I always seem to find myself counting down to something, and this semester is no different with many exciting events coming up. This is the fifth week of class, which means that I’m already one-third of the way through this semester. There are also only five more weeks until Spring Break, when I’ll be going skiing with friends in Colorado. I’m involved in Vet School Open House as the Publicity Co-Executive, which is just over 50 days away. Some of my classmates will be receiving their Aggie Rings this semester, in about 60 days, which will be an exciting time to celebrate as a class.

And finally, White Coat Ceremony is just over 70 days away! This Texas A&M Vet School tradition is when second-year students receive their white coats that they will use as third-years while shadowing in the clinics. This is one of the biggest celebrations at the vet school, besides graduation, and a great achievement for students who have made it through two whole years of Vet School!

There are so many fun events that I’m looking forward to this semester, but I must remember to take life day-by-day and enjoy each week. Vet School is really tough! Sometimes, it takes a lot of determination and mental strength to get through a tough day or week. So, I have to remind myself to find the joy in daily life and celebrate my little victories.

As simple as it may sound, my personal goals for each semester have been to spend more time with friends outside of class, and to make it to the Rec Center more. And, I finally feel like I am achieving these goals! I have already had so much fun this semester going bowling, having game nights, and celebrating birthdays with friends. I’ve also finally gotten into a better workout routine, which I am really proud of myself for!

So here I am, celebrating the goals that I have already achieved this semester, and hope to continue to achieve throughout Vet School. For those reading this, my message is simple—don’t forget to celebrate yourself and appreciate one victory you achieve every day!

DVM Student
Class of 2019

Winding Down

Thanksgiving break is fast approaching, which means that the semester will be over in the blink of an eye! I am very much looking forward to Thanksgiving break, and being able to spend time with my family and enjoy the delicious Thanksgiving meal that my mother always prepares! The five days of break will provide me with some much-needed rest and relaxation and will help me to return to school focused and ready to conquer my final exams!

I have really enjoyed this semester; it has probably been my favorite thus far. The schedule has been amazing, and has provided me with free time to relax and enjoy more activities outside of school. One of my favorite parts of this semester has been the Clinical Correlates rotations that we have participated in.

Second year Clinical Correlates has provided us with several opportunities to practice a variety of skills like venipuncture and physical exams on horses, goats, and exotic animals. My absolute favorite lab thus far has been the exotic animal lab! We had the opportunity to improve our exotic animal physical exam skills by receiving instruction from the Zoo Medicine residents and fourth year veterinary students as we worked with pigeons and tortoises. I enjoyed the time spent learning these important skills, because I’ve never been taught them before, and never know when I may need to use them! Because of that lab, I have a new-found confidence in proper handling and physical exam assessment of birds and reptiles.

I am grateful to attend such an amazing veterinary school that offers several hands-on labs during each year of the curriculum. Exposure to these important skills and techniques before our fourth year of clinical rotations enhances our confidence and allows us to be better fourth year students and will ultimately make us better veterinarians!

Speaking of clinical year…I am almost there! Well, not quite…but after this semester, I will be halfway done with the classroom-oriented portion of my veterinary education. I will have only three semesters left until my fourth year of clinical rotations! That thought is exciting, but a bit scary at the same time. However, I know that my knowledge base will only continue to grow during the next three semesters, and I will be able to walk into the clinics with confidence thanks to amazing education that we receive here.

Halfway Point

Today begins the ninth week of class, which means that the semester is now half over! This first semester of my second year seems to have flown by so far, faster than both of my first year semesters ever did. So, I’ve stopped to think about why that is. Is it because I’m finally acclimated to the workload of veterinary school? Or is it that I’ve hit my stride with this semester’s schedule? Or maybe it’s because I’m enjoying this semester’s classes more? It’s most likely a combination of all of these things.

My classes this semester include pathology, pharmacology, parasitology, nutrition, and clinical correlates. I find these classes to be more interesting than first-year classes were and can see the clinical relevance coming into play more often during class.

Pathology is probably my favorite class thus far, because we learn about many of the fascinating disease processes that we will see all the time in practice. It’s interesting to learn about the many different things that can go wrong in the body, and it makes me appreciate that the body functions properly most of the time.

Clinical correlates is also a lot of fun because we have opportunities during the semester to work on our physical exam and animal handling skills with horses, goats, reptiles, and birds. It is always nice to have time to practice those skills and be reminded why we are in veterinary school: to interact with and treat animals. Correlates has also allowed us opportunities to participate in ultrasound and suture skills labs, and it has enabled us to sharpen our communication skills in a variety of ways. For example, we’ve had the opportunity to learn some medical Spanish from Spanish-speaking members of the hospital staff, as well as the Spanish veterinary exchange students that were on externship at Texas A&M this year. This semester has also provided more opportunities to enhance our critical thinking skills in a clinical setting, as we have had case-based discussions during pharmacology class to further review the drugs that we are learning about.

By my estimations, I’ve already learned approximately 200 drugs, 250 parasites of veterinary importance, and over 100 disease processes at just nine weeks into the semester, and I know that the second half of the semester will be just as packed with knowledge! It is amazing to think about how much we can learn in just 16 short weeks!

As I think about the eight weeks left in this semester, I look forward to learning more, but also look forward to the Thanksgiving and Winter breaks! Veterinary school is a whirlwind, and I feel as though I am constantly in motion. So, the time spent relaxing with my family and slowing down for a bit will be restorative, and will help to keep my mind fresh for more learning to come! Veterinary school is a crazy ride. It is a challenging, exhausting, and exciting experience that is unlike anything else, but I am learning so many amazing things every day and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.