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!

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!

Departing Advice for Vet School Success

I am now only a week and a half away from starting my clinical year! Because our clinical year is so busy, fourth-year students do not serve as ambassadors, which means I will be leaving the team as both a member and its leader. While reflecting on my first three years of veterinary school, I remembered my blog post from first year that summarized my advice for veterinary school. These lessons were helpful to me in my second and third year and will continue to serve me well in my final year of veterinary school.

If I could give one final piece of advice for succeeding in veterinary school, I would say that success in veterinary school is determined as much by your attitude as by your knowledge and experience. With that in mind, below is a list of five personality traits that I believe are valuable in veterinary school:

  1. Resilience: Veterinary school is full of challenges, both academically and emotionally. My classmates and I all have had to deal with obstacles of different magnitudes while in veterinary school, whether the setback was failing a course, coping with a family crisis, or managing responsibilities while ill. Resilience is the strength to keep persevering through four difficult years even in times when it seems impossible to become a successful veterinarian.
  2. Adaptability: Being adaptable is a key part of resilience. Veterinary medicine is constantly changing and veterinary school constantly presents its own challenges. This year we had to adapt to a completely new Veterinary Biomedical Education Complex. Next year’s incoming first-year class will have a completely redesigned curriculum. Fourth year is the epitome of change during veterinary school—fourth-year students change rotations within the hospital every two weeks, and each service has its own rules and structure.
  3. Loyalty: It is far better to face the challenges of veterinary school united. Support your classmates through their struggles by sharing resources and offering help. This will be especially important during fourth year, when students share cases and patient care. Always remember that your classmates and professors will be your future colleagues.
  4. Confidence: It is sometimes hard for me to feel confident during veterinary school. However, confidence is needed to pursue opportunities and make the most out of a veterinary-school education. Because I was confident enough to apply, I had amazing experiences, such as spending three weeks working at a macaw conservation project in the Peruvian rainforest and serving as a leader in several student organizations, including CVM Ambassadors.
  5. Open-mindedness: Veterinary medicine is constantly evolving thanks to new advances in research. It is impossible to be an expert in everything, especially as a student. Be humble and willing to learn from others.

I hope that this advice is helpful, no matter where you are on your veterinary school journey. I have loved my time in veterinary school so far, and I am excited for next year!