Building Foundations

One of the first things you receive as a first-year veterinary student is a “bone-box” for anatomy. This bone-box contains pieces of a dog skeleton that you will learn in its entirety over the course of the semester.

On the first day of class, I remember receiving my bone box and being instructed to inspect each bone for cracks, abnormalities, or blemishes.

I felt the tendrils of panic creep in as I looked at the checklist of bones—radius, ulna, femur, tibia, fibula, to name a few—and again at my box of bones, soon realizing that I had no idea what a canine (dog) radius looked like, let alone what any of the bony prominences should look like. Before I spiraled too far, a classmate who had prior experience with anatomy helped me identify and inspect my bones.

I am now in my 10th week of my first semester of veterinary school, and we have already learned most of the bones in our bone-box, as well as each bony prominence and its muscular attachments. In addition, we have learned of each bone’s relative position in the canine body and its relationships to all the surrounding musculature, nerves, and vessels.

Black dog with students sitting in grass
Practicing palpations on my classmate’s dog, Snoozy.

The learning curve to get from day one to week 10 was quite steep, and I am continuously adapting my study strategies.

Over the past 10 weeks, I have consistently found one of the most valuable strategies to involve some form of group-studying. My classmates and I are all coming to veterinary school with different strengths and weaknesses; together, we can fill in each other’s gaps in knowledge, test each other, and discuss connections across our curriculum.

One of our upcoming anatomy assessments will be in the form of a live dog (or cat, if you’re feeling brave) palpation, during which we will be assessed on our ability to find and locate certain bony prominences, musculature, blood vessels, and organs.

Being able to apply everything we have learned so far in anatomy will be utilized in building our personal knowledge of a normal physical exam. Even though each of us will eventually be conducting our physical exams independently, we are able to support each other through group-study in learning the process.

Although we are only 10 weeks into our formal veterinary education, we have already laid a foundation for a lifetime of collaboration and learning from each other.

Hitting the Ground Running

So far, this semester is off to a great start. It has been fun but also very busy. I am taking anatomy, immunology, genetics, an online writing class, and phonetics and phonology.


Although this does not sound like a super busy schedule, they are all morning classes and then in the afternoons, I work as an ambassador and am involved in two student organizations, which means I am pretty much on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.


While it’s only the third week of school, I like the businesses of it all. And, thankfully, all of my classes are interesting, so that helps to stay awake!


Of all of the classes I am taking this semester, anatomy has been the monster already. We are responsible for knowing the bones, muscles, major veins and arteries, and nerves of the thoracic limb.


I have had tough classes before but never like this. We literally study every day just to stay on top of things. However, my labmates and the graduate student lecturer have been very helpful in understanding concepts, so things are getting better.


When things are challenging, I like to think of things in terms of “how is this going to benefit me in the future?” I’ve had to remind myself of that, even from the first day; yes, this class is tough, but it is going to be so beneficial to me in the long run because it is teaching me how to effectively study every day, collaborate with others, ask for help, and how to critically think about topics and connections.


Thinking this way has made me appreciate this class and the teaching style infinitely more.


On a more future professional note, I have received interviews at all three dental schools in Texas and I could not be prouder and more excited! I only applied to Texas schools because, one, they are cheaper and, two, I do not want to go super far away from my family. I have had two interviews already and I have my last one tomorrow!


Mostly, everything that is happening has made me realize that my dreams are finally becoming a reality! And I am so thankful to God for that!