Planning for the Future

Sydney M.Well, I made it to my last semester before entering my fourth year of vet school, when I will be completing my clinical rotations in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, but now, the real future planning starts. I am amazed at how much A&M is preparing us for our future. They put a lot of effort into providing us with resources and opportunities to grow in our profession and graduate confident in that knowledge.

This semester started with a choice of which prep course to get for the NAVLE. The NAVLE is the exam you have to take in your fourth year of vet school to become a licensed veterinarian. I will be taking the NAVLE in November or December of this year. In order to quickly be able to review everything we have learned during our vet school journey, we sign up for online prep courses that guide us through important topics. I just signed up for one of the prep courses, and it’s now becoming real just how close I am to my fourth year and graduation!

This semester has already been jammed-packed with new knowledge for not only veterinary medicine, but also for financial and business knowledge. This semester, the third-year students are taking a class called “Practice Management,” in which we learn to effectively manage a veterinary practice when we graduate, as well as basic business skills for our resumes and cover letters, the hiring process, and personal finances. I am really excited about this class because I believe that I will gain great insight on life outside of vet school, which will help me make great choices when I graduate. The class has guest lecturers who discuss different topics. So far, we have covered resumes and cover letters, and the pros and cons of building a vet clinic or whether it’s better to buy an existing clinic. I am excited to hear the rest of the lectures throughout the semester!

Another way to help with your future planning is by joining the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA), an organization that is great for helping you plan for the business aspect of veterinary medicine. I joined VBMA in my second year and I have learned so much from this group. The VBMA offers several ways for you to boost your resume for the future. One way is through the business certification program, in which you attend 16 hours of business lectures hosted by the VBMA before you graduate from vet school. If you attend the lectures, you graduate with a business certificate, which will help set you apart from other applicants. In January, the VBMA holds a Professional Development Symposium with lectures that provide additional business knowledge. I just attended this seminar and was able to finish all of my hours for the certificate, so I am really proud of myself for sticking with it during vet school.

With all of this future-planning, I am getting excited for the next step in my career!

Interviewing for Vet School

Carter M.During this past winter break, I was invited to interview with the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. Upon receiving the emailed invitation, I was elated; it was a very surreal feeling. I have wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember and getting my interview made it suddenly feel real.

Obviously, I had not been accepted at that point but getting my interview was a huge step for me. My interview date was about two weeks from when I received my email.

The interview process for Texas A&M’s vet school is in the form of multiple mini interviews (MMIs). On the date of the interview, you show up and have six mini interviews, with the idea being that if someone does not do as well in one of his or her interviews, not all hope is lost.

Each interview lasts eight minutes, and they fly by. Prior to my interview, I had gone online and found practice MMI questions, and each night I would sit down with my mom (who is a veterinarian) and we would do mock interviews. This really helped me get comfortable with the process.

The day of my interview I was nervous, but at the same time, I was excited. Interviewers stress the fact that they want everyone to have fun in their interviews; I tried to focus on this and I think it really helped me. I just tried to enjoy each topic I was given.

When it was all said and done, I felt really good about how I had done. Now all that is left is to just wait.

The Trials of a Pre-Med Student

Courtney N.The first wave of tests is finally upon us! As the second semester of my junior year flies past, I, like any pre-med looking to apply this cycle, am feeling the pressure of the process. I have found that the life of a pre-med is a delicate balancing act. It is difficult finding time to devote to extracurricular activities, volunteering, research, classwork, and readying applications for submission.  It feels like I am constantly adding things to my to-do list and never crossing anything off.

The first round of tests seems even more daunting when you have to start off the semester behind in all of your classes. I think my experiences are pretty indicative of the typical pre-med experience. I spent the entirety of winter break and the first week of classes studying for the MCAT, and I think about half of my anatomy class took the MCAT right along with me. Medical school hopefuls, and any student who wishes to attend graduate school, do not get time off, even during school breaks. As graduation approaches, breaks are spent gaining pertinent experiences.

I have learned a lot about myself through my experience preparing applications and taking the MCAT. Studying eight to 10 hours a day almost every day for the entire winter break definitely took its toll. However, it showed me how important it is to take some time for yourself. Sometimes stepping away from my studying was one of the hardest things I had to do. There were some days when I became so stressed from not studying long enough that I would force myself to study longer without actually absorbing any of the information; I was my own worst enemy and my stress kept feeding on itself. Stepping away from my studying allowed me to return refreshed and helped me look at old problems from new angles.

Similarly, I found that it was really important to do something fun and stress-free to break up the studying. Whether it was a movie night with friends, a night alone with Netflix, or a nice dinner with my parents, I felt like the day after I had taken a night off was much more productive than one after a long day of studying. Likewise, being able to lean on people who made up my support system (parents, friends, siblings, etc.) was so important during this extremely stressful time. Even if I couldn’t admit that I needed a break, the people who care about me pushed me to take care of myself.

I believe that the things that got me through studying for the MCAT can be applied to almost any kind of situation. It is important to take care of yourself and remember that even if you don’t do as well as you had hoped, you can always find the silver lining and take something away from the situation. With that being said, good luck to all on the first round of tests and good luck to anyone waiting on their MCAT scores!

Food Animal Fun

Catherine T.In February, Texas A&M hosted its annual Food Animal Wet Lab, an event designed to give students exposure to all sorts of food animal medicine techniques and topics we don’t always cover in enough detail in class.

Because my main career focus is working with beef cattle and other livestock after graduation, this event is always a great time for me! I learned about castrating calves, giving epidurals, and performing C-sections, all of which can be the bread-and-butter of a food animal vet’s practice.

Even though I’ve known I want to practice in this field of veterinary medicine for a long time, it’s fun to see my classmates from all walks of life getting involved, too. Even if you plan to be a bird vet or a radiologist, who doesn’t love to play around with animals and learn from our knowledgeable and entertaining professors? Plus, you never know when a great experience may change your career goals for the better (and, yes, that is a shameless plug for food animal medicine).

While I had a lot of fun participating in the different wet labs, one of the most interesting parts of the day was meeting other students from different schools and even different states. I was able to work with and help teach several pre-vet students from West Texas and was excited to see their passion for this kind of work so early in their school careers.

I also got to learn alongside veterinary students from Oklahoma and Kansas and share interesting tidbits about how our curriculum and veterinary experiences differ. I also got to learn some things that make me grateful that I go to Texas A&M, such as the fact that it was 8 degrees in Manhattan, Kansas, the day before the wet lab.

In my upcoming fourth year of vet school, I’ll have the opportunity to travel around Texas and to California and Colorado on externships. I’m excited for the opportunity to venture out from College Station and meet other students and veterinarians from different backgrounds.

The great diversity of veterinary medicine, and everyone’s unique experiences and perspective, is just one of the things that I love so much about this profession!

Fighting Hunger One Gala at a Time

Picture this: A jiving jazz band, flickering chandeliers, dancing flappers, a plethora of fedoras, strands of pearls, and clinking glasses…

 

Karly at Gala
Karly, getting “dolled” up for the 1920s-themed gala

The Brownstone Reserve in Bryan was filled with a crowd of people all coming together with the appearances of having a roaring good time but, in reality, collecting money to take action on hunger and poverty in the most selfless way.

The 5th Annual Heifer International Charity Gala was a success on many fronts. Not only did the event run ever-so-smoothly, but the guests made many contributions to our great cause. In total, we raised nearly $15,000 in tickets, silent auction items, and heartfelt donations.

We also raised awareness. Education is often a more valuable commodity because, while money remains stagnant, knowledge grows between people and between dreams.

Our keynote speaker, Ardyth Neill, the president of Heifer International, honored us with her presence and shared her passion for a cause that touches many hearts. It’s difficult to think of how many people still continue to suffer in our world, but when an organization like Heifer International develops a logical plan to alleviate the pain many communities feel, one cannot help witnessing the hope radiating from the people the organization has touched.

As a member of the planning committee, I was so grateful for the family, friends, fellow students, faculty, and staff who came to support our endeavors. When our TAMU College of Veterinary Medicine comes together in this way, I know that I am exactly where I belong. I cannot compare this community’s compassion, empathy, and unconditional love with anything else, because there is truly no comparison.

I am grateful to be surrounded by so many likeminded individuals, who are constantly giving and giving, even when they have nothing left to give. So that night we danced, and we ate, and we lite up the room, not only with our strands of pearls, but also with our loving hearts.

For more information on the gala, click here or Heifer International, click here.

Letting Life Lead

I had a lot of big moments in 2017, most of which were not planned. Looking back, I see that many of my favorite moments were decisions I made on a whim—to travel, to grow, to take opportunities. Last year was the year of receiving the beauty that is the Aggie ring, seeing my beautiful 91-year-old grandma in Vietnam, helping rebuild a home in Oklahoma for the sweetest family, and falling in love with California when visiting universities for graduate programs. These were the beginning of my senior-year memories that will make me cherish my undergraduate days for years to come.

Chau in California
Chau visited California to learn more about the area’s Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.

On the first day of class this semester, one of my professors introduced himself by first relating to undergraduates. His motive as an undergraduate was to just “get out” and become a veterinarian. But then he added a twist. Along the way and with the mentality to just “getting out,” he found another passion—a passion for teaching, a pathway that made him come back to academia after practicing as a veterinarian, graduating with a second doctorate, and continuing the process that he wanted to get out of. His moral importance for the class was to say follow where life takes you.I came into 2018 with nothing but positivity because I have been waiting for this year since 2014, my freshman year.

And at that moment, I related. I reminisced about my path in college to now and how I stumbled into my passion for physical therapy and to my growth as a student. I can say that this ongoing, four-year journey has changed me. but it is the change that has given me my dedication to strive and be here.

I like to live my life by Einstein’s words of being “passionately curious,” my constant need to question and search for answers through the people around me. So what will I be curious about this semester? A capstone style BIMS writing course, immunology, microbiology, and a neuroscience class. Yes, after three-and-a-half years of hard work, I am excited to announce my interest is in my set of classes this semester! I am on my second week and I am a whirlwind of emotions. I find myself loving my classes every day, even when the workload is massive. I see myself aspiring to be like my professors and express such passion for the sciences. I see my future just beginning as I get through these four months.

2018, the long awaited year, is now, and I cannot express how fortunate I feel for the people I have met and the relationships I have had. This semester I get to balance my classes, student activities, shadowing, GRE prepping, graduate school applications, and, most importantly, studying. And I am really excited!

Right now, I am letting life lead me.

Staying Motivated through the Spring

The spring semester of our 2VM (second-year veterinary student) year is officially upon us, and, boy, do we have a packed schedule: “Anesthesia/General Surgery,” “Infectious Diseases,” “Introduction to Diagnostic Imaging,” “Pathology II,” “Pharmacology II,” “Public Health,” and “Toxicology!”

Here are some things that I have found work well for me in staying motivated through a busy semester. Maybe they can help you tackle your semester, as well!

  1. Study in a new or different location! Some days I find that I am most productive in the study rooms in VIDI. Other times, I focus best while sitting at my desk at home. And sometimes, I study most effectively in the midst of a bustling coffee shop. Sometimes, you just have to switch it up; a change of scenery may be all you need to get back on track!
  2. Acknowledge how far you have come! 2VMs are already 3/8ths of the way toward earning our DVM degrees, which is absolutely wild to think about. We’ve had the strength, courage, and motivation to make it this far in our educational careers…surely we can keep going!
  3. Take breaks! When I wake up on a Sunday morning and tell myself that I am going to study all day long, it never fails that at one point or another during the afternoon, I will lose my focus. Studying for just a few hours at a time, however, interrupted by a 20- or 30-minute well-deserved study break, works wonders for my productivity and overall motivation!
  4. Look forward to White Coat Ceremony!!! April 13 is going to be here before we know it! All of my family will be flying out to College Station (some of them for the very first time!) from California, and I have no doubt that this excitement will carry me through the most stressful of times and help keep me motivated and pressing on this semester. Find something exciting you have coming up in your life and make a countdown
  5. Look forward to your summer plans! I will be spending my summer externing at two different dairy practices in California, and I am already so excited. The opportunity to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained in school and apply it to real-world situations on a dairy farm is reason enough for me to stay motivated and keep a positive attitude throughout the semester!
  6. Stay organized! Writing in my planner has become quite a hobby of mine. I can conveniently write down assignment due dates, upcoming exams, etc., all in one convenient spot. Seeing everything neatly written down and organized into different days makes me realize that there is, indeed, enough time to accomplish everything, thus preventing me from becoming overwhelmed. You cannot stay motivated if you are overwhelmed!
  7. Set reasonable goals! Rather than saying I am going to review all of the lecture material since our previous exam in a day, I split it up—for example, a half hour for each lecture. There is something satisfying about being able to check off a box on a to-do study list, and that keeps me motivated to keep at it!

Happy spring semester everyone! 🙂

A Song of Ice and ‘Flu’-er

Daniel's DogBeing from Texas there is nothing as exciting as some sort of winter weather. “Snow days” are something that we long for, covet, and store in our memory for as long as possible. You can ask any Texan and they can probably tell you the exact date of the last time there was snow in Texas. We’re constantly mocked by our non-Texan relatives in the North, as well as by the stories of walking both ways to school, up-hill, in 20 feet of snow, while Texas completely shuts down at the mere idea of ice falling from the sky.

Hey, I’m not complaining, especially when it turns our three-day weekend into a four-day one! The storm that hit last week that was supposed to bring lots of ice and, more importantly, snow. A winter storm warning would pop up on my screen as I watched the Patriots dismantle the Titans (Go Pats!), and my mind and body were ready for the snow. Monday came around and then the news that school is being cancelled due to the ice that is expected. The next day came slowly, as I had checked outside every 30 minutes the night before. Like a kid looking for Santa on Christmas Eve, I was looking for the snow that would soon turn my world white.

When I finally fell asleep, I woke up early and immediately noticed two things: one, I was getting sick, and two, there was no snow…just ice. The disappointment and the illness kept me on bedrest for the rest of the day and the next. I ate chicken noodle soup, tried to keep my puppy—who was quickly getting cabin fever—company, and binge watched the last season of “Game of Thrones” again (P.S.: shout out if you got my reference in the title). While I felt awful and was disappointed, I watched my dog constantly want to be outside. As a Canadian breed, he wanted nothing more to be outside to play in the ice; when allowed, he individually broke up all the ice, sprinted around full speed, and was completely and totally infatuated with a patch of ice on the back porch—he would sprint at it and then slide across. It made me think about my disappointment in the lack of snow and the presence my illness: he was making the best out of every situation; when life gave him ice, he made snow cones.

In veterinary school, it is easy to find disappointment—whether it is a lecture that you find really challenging or a lower grade than you wanted—but it doesn’t have to be like that. We all got here on our own merits, because of the hard work we put in throughout the previous years of our lives, while looking at veterinary school like a little kid waiting and hoping for snow.

So this semester (and future semesters) I’m going to change my outlook, and I hope that you do the same in your everyday life. Don’t look around and be disappointed with the things that occur in your life; look at them as opportunities to learn, to grow, and to enjoy. After all, you are living another day (hopefully without the flu). Look at the world not as a frozen wasteland like I did but, instead, as my dog did—as a winter wonderland. Make the best of each situation, and don’t be afraid to make your own snow cones.

Weather Days: A New Tradition?

Caitlin O.The best part of the bad weather days??? NO SCHOOL!! This semester, school was cancelled the Tuesday after our three-day, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend because of the ice. It was so nice to have two extra days of the weekend during which I could get to sleep in and study a little. I did not have much schoolwork to catch up on, because classes for veterinary students had just begun the week before, so I studied some, and then I also got to spend time with friends and just enjoy the extra day. After four weeks apart from people with whom I am use to spending all day, every day, I was so grateful that I was able to spend the day catching up not only on school but on friends’ lives and their breaks.

There is a catch with getting a random day off, though. Because the day was not planned, we did have to make up the labs that we missed, and on Tuesdays, first-year veterinary students have three different labs, so making up the classes was frustrating. I wanted to be back in grade school where some weather days were built into the schedule, but that is not the case here because everything that we are supposed to cover in vet school is important enough to make up.

Last semester, we had an unplanned weather day the second week of class, and there is a saying at A&M that once something happens twice it is a tradition. Maybe days off in the second week of school will become a tradition, but I almost hope that it doesn’t so that I don’t have to spend one of my few free Friday afternoons making up important labs. I guess we will just have to wait and see if the tradition continues.

Refreshing During Winter Break

LisaWhat an amazing winter break I had! Because I live eight hours away, I had been loning to see my mom and dad, so I really enjoyed being with my family for a whole month, cuddling with the family cat, and catching up on bunch of Netflix series. My family and I also got to travel and make some new memories; it was great to be close to them and catch up with the lives of my older friends. I was saddened to have to leave them, but they are never too far for a phone call.

On the bright side, I got a new cat named Moose! He is now living with me in College Station, and he is just purrrrfect. He loves to cuddle, eat, and play, when he is not sleeping. What a life he has!

While all good things must come to an end, the start to the semester has interesting because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and an extra day to relax due to cold weather. I was expecting some snow, but a girl can only wish. After that interruption, as I’m getting back into a routine, I’ve decided to try something new—Zumba! Let me tell you, it was a lot harder than I thought. Who knew that dancing could be such a workout? But it’s also very fun, something I believe I am going to enjoy with my busy schedule.

I have high hopes for this semester, as I do every semester, but the homework is going to be another story. I hope everyone’s semester started well and that you really love your schedules. Gig’em, Ags!