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!

New Year, New Leader

Chelsea B.Welcome back to another year at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences!

Professional DVM students returned to classes on Aug. 21. This is a special year on many accounts. We have officially been in our new Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) for one full year, and the college is entering its second century of educating veterinary professional students. The DVM Class of 2021 has a revamped curriculum that prioritizes the hands-on clinical aptitude and communication skills that underscore the core competencies of a veterinarian. Furthermore, our fourth-year veterinary students, the Class of 2018, are pioneering expanded clinical tracks in our teaching hospitals, which will benefit their post-graduation career interests.

New opportunities are constantly being introduced within the CVM, including my position as Lead Student Ambassador of the CVM Tours Program. I took over for my predecessor, Clarissa, in May, when she moved into her fourth-year clinical rotations. Since then, I have been learning the ropes of how to manage the many tour requests our college receives.

We aim to provide tours Monday through Saturday (daily at noon and 3:30 p.m., and at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays) throughout our academic semesters and breaks. Visitors of all types are encouraged to view our renowned facilities. Just in the past few months we’ve given tours to summer camps, FFA clubs, school guidance counselors, newly-admitted students, applicants, alumni, and more! Those interested can visit our website, where there is a self-registration page. Large groups work with me, directly, to set up alternative times and additional tour guides. We also are able to provide students with contact information for our DVM and BIMS program advisers.

As you can imagine, arranging these events takes a great deal of organization—both with the groups attending, as well as with the student ambassadors leading the tours. I’ve learned how to use new software, delegate with others, and manage communication efforts with various personnel across the college and hospitals to ensure that our guests receive the best behind-the-scenes experience.

It’s important to remember the privilege that is touring a hospital setting. The CVM Tours Program invites current undergraduate biomedical science majors and professional DVM students to become ambassadors, who showcase the advances of our interdisciplinary field, from the human-animal bond to translational medicine. To have been selected to be a student at this institution is a great honor in itself. It is even more humbling to have been selected as a representative of an institution that has successfully operated for more than 100 years.

This term we have a record 25 BIMS and VetMed ambassadors on staff. While we all learn the same route, each tour guide delivers a unique perspective on the Aggie student experience and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospitals (VMTH). Whether you’re hoping to attend A&M for college, veterinary school, or graduate school, our ambassadors can help give you insight into all of the attractions of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences!

Feeling Certainty in Second Year

Laine T.Howdy! My name is Laine and I am a second-year veterinary student and a brand new ambassador! My interests lie in small-animal medicine, focusing on dogs and cats. I am a strong canine enthusiast and absolutely love dog training and pet photography. I have wanted to be a veterinarian since fifth grade and have spent much of my time after my 16th birthday either volunteering or working at a vet clinic. Now in my second year of veterinary classes, I am more excited than ever to pursue my dream as the countdown continues until I receive my doctorate of veterinary medicine—only 33 months left!

I had assumed my second year of vet school would start just like my first one, with the added luxury of more time to study and less time in class. While I was not necessarily mistaken—the coursework is still rigorous, the expectations are still high, and the opportunities are still endless—the beginning of my second year was radically different from my first. For starters, my attitude has changed drastically. After having made it through my first year, I am now more confident in myself and eager to help the incoming first-year students as they learn how to adapt to the change in course load and the shift in lifestyle that comes with entering the veterinary curriculum. The sense of a vet school “family” has become stronger in me as I reach out to those who seem unsure so that I can offer my help and experience in any way that I can. We each worked so hard to enter this program and are now in it together. We also are future colleagues who treat each other as equals and help those in need. If there is anything I wish to accomplish this year, it is passing on this feeling of belonging to the first-year students.

Less subtle a change than my attitude, however, was the nationwide eclipse on our very first day of class; yet, it drove home the same idea. It was heartwarming to watch students and faculty gather in the courtyard to set up scopes and cameras to view the eclipse with their special glasses. Everyone had something in common as they struck up conversations all day, whether they were a longtime friend or stranger.

Then, natural disaster struck that Friday as Hurricane Harvey commanded the news. Though undeniably devastating, it has been incredible seeing the Aggie core value of “Selfless Service” in action for the entire past week. The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ own Veterinary Emergency Team was deployed along the coast to offer medical support to animals in need. Homes have been opened up to anyone facing floodwater threats in Houston. Kayaks were bought to assist in rescuing those trapped, and countless fundraisers and relief efforts are constantly being made. In this trying time, I am proud to call myself a Texan and an Aggie.

Last year I entered vet school excited, but apprehensive and unsure. This year I know without a shadow of a doubt that I belong here and I am not in this alone. It’s not just a school; it’s a community.

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!