An Unexpected Education

Laine with her dogThe more time I spend in vet school, the more I’m in awe of the passage of time. Perhaps it’s just growing older or the realization that I’ve just experienced my last “summer break,” but it has become more striking than ever that time simply flies by.

Recently, as I stood in my coveralls, watching the farrier demonstrate how to maintain a horse’s hoof, I reflected on the many years of my childhood dreaming of being a veterinarian and working tirelessly toward that goal. All the skills I was once so terrified to do for fear of messing up—injections in large animals, reading blood smears, conducting a physical exam—seem so simple and natural now.

It has only just now truly hit me—I’m over halfway done with vet school! More than that, clinics are right around the corner, and in a matter of weeks I’ll be donning my “big doctor coat,” all white and freshly ironed. It really sends my head spinning to think about, but that isn’t to say I’m not ready.

Summer was an educational adventure in its own way.

As luck would have it, my dog started coughing before I could even return to work at my home clinic. I was only a handful of days into summer and I was already back at the vet school. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing more than a case of kennel cough and the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital had her already improving within the day.

paisleyIt was exciting, though, to speak with a fourth-year student (4VM) who had only just begun her clinical rotations. Knowing I am a vet student, the 4VM even brought me into the discussion when it came time to decide how we wanted to proceed with my dog’s case. Though I didn’t realize it at it the time, it was the first instance of many that summer during which I would realize just how much I’d learned the past two years.

Back in San Antonio, working at my home clinic, I found myself understanding more and more. The veterinarians there showed me radiographs and discussed cases with me, helping me practice my new skills and get into the habit of trying to make educated clinical decisions.

Then, lo and behold, my family cat, Antonio, became a little “quiz” of his own within the month; Antonio began refusing food, and I knew something wasn’t right. I took him to work with me and he had a 106F fever!! Instantly, we went about trying to fix the issue.

The next two weeks were an absolute roller coaster! He got better briefly…and then worse. Having turned down every avenue, we, again, turned to the Small Animal Hospital, this time to consult with an internal medicine specialist. And, yet again, I was invited to listen in on the conversation as we discussed potential diagnostics and treatments. Once more I found myself able to keep up with the conversation and even made the final decision on how to treat my cat. Finally, the fever cleared Antonio the Catand Antonio’s appetite returned. As stressful as the situation had been, it was so rewarding to reach that happy ending. Through Antonio’s illness, I learned that even if I didn’t know all the answers, I was developing valuable skills as a veterinarian and could even think through difficult cases I never would have imagined being able to before.

Looking back on how quickly the first half of vet school has flown by, I can confidently say I’ve loved every second of it—at least, almost every second. That’s including the nights poring over textbooks and the minutes before a big test, fidgeting anxiously as I mentally reviewed every little detail that could possibly be on it.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely. Not once have I doubted the path I’m on, and every day I only become more certain of it. I know just on the horizon awaits uncertainty and new challenges, but I’m excited. I’m ready for it.

Clinics, here I come!

Finally Entering Clinics

Class Of 2019 White Coats

The Texas A&M Veterinary Class of 2019 shared a bittersweet moment last Friday afternoon as we concluded our final classroom lecture of our professional curriculum. Without a doubt, the last three didactic years have been very challenging, and I am so proud of myself and my classmates for making it to this day, as we prepare to put on our white coats and begin clinical rotations next Monday.

That said, we must get through our final exams this week and endure the endless hours of studying before reaching for that white coat. Of course, we don’t expect the studying to end this week; we have the national and state licensing examinations to start preparing for, after all.

When my rotations begin, I will start on the anesthesiology rotation, which will expose me to anesthetic management in a variety of domestic, exotic, and laboratory species. As a fourth-year student, I will be participating in all aspects of anesthetic management, from preanesthetic evaluation of the patient, selection of drugs, monitoring of patients, supporting and recovering patients from anesthesia, and learning about pain management in post-operative care.

Needless to say, I’m filled with a lot of excitement, mixed with a heavy dose of nervousness and suspense. I hope the clinic floor is ready—the Class of 2019 is on its way!